How did I arrive at a diagnosis of Adrenal fatigue?
I always thought I was pretty healthy. I ate a very balanced diet and trained 4-5 times a week. There was an important aspect missing from the equation that led to my diagnosis of AF; stress management. By this I mean, mindfulness, checking in with myself, not just pushing through, managing my stress levels. Stopping, tuning in and allowing my body and mind some rest!
There were a number of contributing factors that had me arrive at complete adrenal exhaustion. Almost 2 years ago, my father had sustained a head injury and it was discovered he had a significant bleed on his brain, affecting his memory and personality, something we are still struggling to deal with now. Add to this, a renovation, studying, working full time and raising 3 children, the eldest, a strong willed, wayward 14 year old and you have yourself a pretty stressed out mumma! No amount of broccoli or spinach was going to help me!
When our bodies are under stress- whether emotionally or physically- the body initiates the flight or fight, survival response.
The adrenals flood the body with cortisol which elevates heart rate, induces sweat production, breathing and thoughts race, preparing our bodies to either confront or flee from the perceived threat.
Under extended periods or chronic stress this depletes our adrenals and creates many imbalances physical and mentally such as:
· Brain fog, memory problems, racing mind
· Tiredness, weakness, lethargy
· Weakened immunity- Inability to heal, illness
· Poor sleep – finding it hard to get up in the morning even after 8+ hours sleep
· Cravings for salty or sweet foods or stimulants
· Emotionally reactive, anxiety, depression
A 21st century disease, AF is quite common in today’s society. Left un-diagnosed, it can become quite detrimental so it is important to seek a qualified diagnosis as there are a number of underlying conditions that produce the same symptoms. I was first diagnosed by my GP, then confirmed with my bloods by my Naturopath. Having this diagnosis helped me find natural solutions that restored balance mentally, physically and spiritually.
My Naturopath provided some B Vitamin supplements among other things that provided my body with the nutrients that healthy eating alone wasn't able to provide. I started using Meditation apps and found that the emotional reactions that were creating issues were almost non-existent and I became more mindful of how I was feeling and when to give my body and mind the rest it needed.
Walking in the woods or along the beach has always been therapeutic for me and the recovery for adrenal fatigue was really a combination of Nutrition, Mindfulness and Movement in Nature. Having studied the benefits of Nature immersions, I am so passionate to share the benefits with anyone that will listen!
There is a significant amount of research that supports the following benefits of spending time in nature:
· Significantly decreased the levels of stress hormones
· Lowers blood pressure and heart rate (walking slowly)
· Suppresses sympathetic nervous system and increases parasympathetic nervous activity, bringing your nervous system into balance and creating a sense of comfort and relaxation
· Increases endorphins and stimulates a good mood
· Boosts immunity by significantly increases the number of NK (Natural Killer) cells and activity, as well as increasing the activity of anti-cancer proteins
· Increase hours of sleep (allowing adrenals to recover)
· Improves cardiovascular and metabolic health
· Helps lose or maintain weight