Exhaustion. I get it. I’m sure you’ve heard some variation of “If you aren’t tired all the time, you aren’t adulting right.” While this is true, it is so, so wrong. We are not meant to live in a state of chronic exhaustion!
A HUGE contributor to this exhaustion is stress. If you are a living, breathing human adult you are most likely barely managing to keep your head above the waters of the stress ocean. What you may not realize is that stress comes in many forms:
- Emotional – Ever feel like your head is going to explode from all that you are trying to balance? Ever feel like you Just. Can’t. Even?
- Physical – Illnesses, injuries and lack of sleep can all contribute to your overall stress level as your body’s coping mechanisms struggle to keep up.
- Nutritional – A diet that is not adequate in nourishing food will deplete your body of what it needs to deal with stress.
- Environmental – All those toxins that surround us every day put an extra load on your body’s ability to maintain balance.
Let’s talk about how this all works
Your body is intricately designed to maintain balance (homeostasis), and a chronic high level of stress can really mess with that balance. It starts with two organs in the brain: the Hypothalamus and the Pituitary. When your body perceives you are under stress, the Hypothalamus releases hormones that trigger the Pituitary to stimulate the Adrenals to release cortisol to tell your cells to convert stored fuel back to glucose to provide energy to react to the stressor. Hearing that process just wears me out!
Here’s the problem people: Because most of us now live in a chronic state of stress, our Adrenals are releasing too much cortisol which results in lots of circulating glucose (blood sugar). Your body’s goal is to get that glucose into your cells to be converted to energy. The Pancreas jumps in and releases insulin which knocks on the cell doors and escorts our friend glucose into the cells. But when the cells are constantly bombarded with insulin, they stop listening to the knocking and that glucose just stays in the blood stream, causing all kinds of problems!
This is called insulin resistance, and is a condition that is medically diagnosed. However, you may recognize the signs of insulin resistance in an expanding waistline, difficulty losing weight, fatigue (remember the glucose that isn’t getting into the cells to be used as fuel?) and a host of inflammatory issues like joint pain, headaches and digestive problems.
Let’s go back to the Adrenals. That hormonal response to stress we talked about earlier puts a huge strain on your Adrenal glands. This constant stimulation of the Adrenals can cause them to get really tired, which can definitely interfere with your ability to enjoy life. In addition to fatigue, you may find yourself feeling depressed, unable to fall asleep or stay asleep, experiencing lack of sex drive, dealing with anxiety and unable to handle stress.
When your Adrenal glands are getting overworked, your body is going to route all available nutrients to them because their function is foundational to our instinctive response to stress (ever hear of “fight or flight?”). All of the ingredients your body needs to make the hormones that are controlling your very existence are going to be given to the Adrenals first. So what suffers? The other body organs and systems that are reliant on hormones – thyroid (even more tired!), sex hormones (low sex drive!), circadian rhythm hormones (sleep problems!), blood sugar regulation (insulin resistance!) and many other hormones regulating body processes.
Are you ready for some good news?
You can make simple changes in your lifestyle habits to support your body’s ability to deal with stress.
- REST. Give yourself permission to rest, take a break, say NO, take a nap, go to bed early, do nothing.
- Drink plenty of pure water. Hormones circulate in the blood and are produced in cells, both of which are primarily liquid.
- Eat real, colorful food. You are literally what you eat, down to the cellular level. Give your body good material to build the hormones it needs, including cholesterol from healthy sources, such as grass fed meats.
- Balance your blood sugar by balancing your intake of complex carbohydrates (40%), quality proteins (30%) and healthy fats (30%).
- Practice slowing down your life-pace. Eat slowly, breathe deeply, practice silence, meditate. Find a new enjoyment of quietness and stillness. Pursue hobbies and activities that feed and fill you, instead of drain and deplete you.
Do you want some more good news?
Exhausted, worn-out, hungry people are my favorite people to work with! I would love to help you dive into this topic to find the root of your stress and exhaustion, and provide you with practical tools to bring you back to life. Who wants to be freaking tired all the time?
I can work with you remotely or in-person. Contact me for a free 15 minute consultation!