This guest post features our October Event Speaker, certified traditional naturopath and owner of Be Well Nashville, Leslie Shew PhD. She’ll be giving us the 411 on stress and how it effects women’s bodies on Thursday, October 13th at 6:30pm at the Attitude of Wellness Space (above the Urban Juicer on 8th Ave). Event RSVP here: RSVP link
I wanted to give you a sneak peak of what’s in store at the event, so I asked Leslie to share a bit of her expertise.
By Leslie Shew, PhD – Certified Traditional Naturopath
Are you stressed? Who isn’t, right? We all deal with some level of stress in our busy lives but what you may not know is how it’s effecting your body.
One of the chief complaints I hear from clients is, “I’m so tired“. In fact, fatigue is one of the things that plagued my life for many years until I found help in the natural health field. “Your blood work is normal,” “There is nothing wrong with you,” “You must be depressed,” were just a few phrases I heard over and over from my medical doctors, and the common complaint I get from my clients.
You are not crazy and probably not depressed….at least not yet. What you may be experiencing is a very common result of long term stress called adrenal fatigue. This happens when the adrenals have been managing long term or sometimes short term stress in the body and begin to lose the ability to function normally.
The adrenal glands are responsible for our “flight or fight” response and were designed to help protect us in times of danger or immediate stress. They produce adrenaline to increase our heart rate, help us focus more clearly and give us an extra rush of energy to get through a stressful situation safely. In response to this adrenaline rush, they then release cortisol to help return the heart rate back to normal and basically bring our body back to a place of rest so that our adrenals can recover for the next episode.
The problem is that in today’s society, we are in a constant state of fight or flight mode. We work non-stop, answer multiple email accounts, never put down our phones and if we begin to feel fatigued then we run to the nearest Starbucks or grab an energy drink so that we can keep going. This leaves our poor adrenals gasping for air and eventually running out of steam. The process can happen quickly for some, but more often takes months or years to build up to a debilitating level.
In addition to fatigue, many may experience unexplained weight gain from cortisol overload. In an attempt to calm down the nervous system and help the adrenals to recover, the body can release too much cortisol causing a spike in insulin production, leading to a negative reaction in the cells. This reaction can lead to our cells actually storing fat in the body instead of using the insulin for energy. Many will notice weight gain around the belly, often referred to as “stress belly“.
Is any of this sounding familiar? There is good news! This debilitating condition can be reversed. Ideally, we SLOW DOWN! However, that’s not something most are willing to do in our over demanding lifestyles.
Here are a few things you can do to help give your adrenal glands some love:
- Eat healthy foods– organic meats, veggies, fruits, raw nuts and drink clean water.
- No more negative thoughts. Thoughts become things! Focus on what you want, not what you don’t want!
- Exercise – but don’t over do it. Keep cardio under 30 minutes and consider adding in meditative practices such as yoga. No marathon training with pooped adrenals!
- Remember to breathe! Take time out. Give yourself at least 15 min of quiet time twice a day. Meditate. Rest. Be still and quiet.
- Get adequate sleep. Use natural sleep aids such as valerian root or passion flower, if needed.
Your body will tell you what it needs! If you are tired, don’t reach for caffeine! That will only trick the adrenals into thinking they have energy they really do not. It’s a chemical energy that will only lead to further adrenal disfunction.
Most importantly, change the behaviors that got you where you are. Life is too short to do tired!