Maintaining a low-stress life is the very best approach to optimal health.
But sometimes, stress seems to creep up on us, and is almost inevitable for many who juggle busy schedules and struggle with dietary choices.
It’s important to take steps to avoid the negative effects of stress, and being mindful of your adrenal health will help you do just that. Your adrenal glands are an essential part of the body that you might be over-working.
What Are The Adrenal Glands?
The adrenal glands are located near your kidneys, and their job is to make the main hormones that control our response to stress: cortisol, norepinephrine, and epinephrine (adrenaline).
If we don’t give the adrenal glands a chance to rest and recover by giving them a break from the stressful situations that stimulate them, we are likely to start feeling unwell.
Why? Because if your cortisol level is either too low or too high, it sends messages throughout the body which affect your digestion, immune system, nervous system, and all your other hormones.
How Do I Know If My Adrenal Glands Are Over-Worked?
Symptoms of over-worked adrenal glands include everything from fatigue and low energy, to insomnia, dizziness, blood sugar irregularities, muscle weakness, frequent infections, and mood changes.
If you feel this way, even for part of the day, then it’s time to start thinking about your adrenal glands. It is possible to test the levels of cortisol and adrenaline in your body; this can tell you exactly what your adrenals are up to and what support they need.
In the meantime, to begin working on restoring your glands, you can start with these 10 easy steps.
10 Steps To Helping Your Adrenal Glands
1. Sleep 7.5 to 9 hours each night
Good sleep is one of the most important things you can do. Calculate your bedtime based on the time you need to wake. Get in bed and to sleep by 10 pm if possible to optimize the effect of melatonin, which naturally increases at that time. Minimize distractions and stimulation from light and sounds to fall asleep and stay asleep.
2. Eat every 2 to 4 hours from the time you wake until 2 hours before going to bed
This way, you will ensure that your body has predictable access to carbohydrates, protein, and fats throughout the day.
It is only when the body does not have the nutrition it needs that it starts to burn muscle tissue and store fat.
Large and infrequent meals push blood sugar and insulin levels to the max, which stresses your body and makes your adrenals work harder. Have small, frequent meals to avoid this.
3. Exercise for 10 to 30 minutes, 3 to 5 times per week
This should include core strengthening, stretching, muscle strengthening, and cardio.
Exercising longer than 30 minutes may only stress or exhaust your adrenals more, so don’t push it unless you are sure your body is supported and ready.
4. Connect with yourself
Connect with yourself, whether that is through prayer, meditation, mindfulness, therapy, a walk in the park, journaling, and/or singing. All of these activities help to bring cortisol back to optimal levels.
5. Connect with others, including pets
Did you know that calling a friend or family member has been shown to help your adrenal glands? Taking time to connect with others (even someone you don’t know)—can help give your body the signals it needs to relax. Even your pet can give you these great effects.
Related: 6 Health Benefits Of Pets
6. Build breaks into your daily schedule
Even 5 minutes to drink a cup of tea, read an article, walk around the block, or simply get your mind off the task at hand has been shown to increase productivity and help out your adrenal glands. A massage can offer a wonderful way to take a break.
7. Enjoy nature!
Whether you choose to spend time outdoors or simply look at pictures of trees, leaves, mountains, and flowers, either way you’ll be helping your body restore itself.
8. Experience your emotions
Whether you feel happiness, sadness, or anger, giving yourself a chance to feel what you feel, with acceptance and support, instead of reacting or suppressing, has been shown to help keep your cortisol levels on track.
Laughing, for example, is known to be one of our most powerful medicines. Find ways to experience emotion that work well for you and for others in your life – ideas include journaling, watching a movie, talking with a friend or therapist.
9. Be strategic with your day and your life
Think about your values and goals, and then outline what it is that you want to get done. Be realistic about what you can accomplish in one day, and create a list of tasks that you’d like to work on. This approach can help you stay on track, be less stressed, and be flexible with yourself.
Related: How To Plan Your Day
10. Take a high quality multivitamin
A good multivitamin will contain antioxidants, which help your body fend off the negative effects of stress; active forms of B vitamins, which are used by your body to detoxify and create neurotransmitters; and minerals that help keep your immune system and muscles working at their best.
Additionally, all of these nutrients are important for your adrenal glands to function well—you might as well make sure you are giving your body the nutrients it is going to need.
Stress will happen, but it doesn’t have to take a toll on your body. Promote adrenal health by following these steps for a healthier, happier you.
How stressed are you? Find out by taking our short quiz.
Dr. Donielle (Doni) Wilson, a nationally celebrated naturopathic doctor, teaches women, men and children how to make life-changing differences to improve their health using natural approaches. In her new book, “The Stress Remedy,” she discusses how and why we experience stress and its impact on health and wellbeing, in addition to providing expert guidance on how to reduce stress and reclaim optimal health.
Photo by Donna White2010