Every morning, you unwillingly drag yourself out of bed and sleep-walk your way through your morning routine. You feel slightly annoyed by everyone around you, even after your third cup of coffee, and no matter how hard you try, you can’t resist when someone buys a box of donuts for the office. Despite the constant pressure and stress of looming deadlines at work, you can’t stay focused.
By the time you get home, you’re exhausted. You’re significant other left their dishes in the sink, which launches you into the familiar nagging argument you have almost nightly. You go to bed, back to your partner, and try to sleep. Instead, you toss and turn all night, until your alarm goes off the next morning and you start the process all over again.
If you’re reading this thinking “wow! This is totally me!” then you could be suffering from Adrenal Fatigue.
What is Adrenal Fatigue?
Adrenal fatigue occurs when your adrenal glands can’t keep up with your sympathetic nervous system, failing to produce enough of the hormones that keep you feeling good. It’s a mild form of adrenal insufficiency, known as Addison’s Disease, and is caused by chronic stress. (1, 2, 3)
It is estimated that 80% of the world’s population suffers from adrenal fatigue due to our increasingly stressful lives and poor lifestyle habits, yet most of us go through life completely unaware. (2)
Signs and Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue
There currently is no medical way to test for adrenal fatigue, however there are a number of signs and symptoms that are major red flags (1, 2):
difficulty getting up in the morning/extreme fatigue
sweet and salty food cravings
nervousness and feeling constantly overwhelmed
Adrenal fatigue is a major cause of excess fat storage, making it nearly impossible for you to lose weight. (1, 2)
How does Adrenal Fatigue Happen?
When you experience stress, your adrenal glands send hormones such as adrenaline in to deal with it accordingly. When you are chronically stressed, your adrenals can’t keep up with the roller coaster that has become your sympathetic nervous system (your “fight or flight” system), become overloaded and all but shut down. (1, 2) The most common causes of such stress are (1, 2):
chronic stress and anxiety (work, relationship, financial, etc)
poor diet and lack of exercise
lack of sleep
exposure to toxins and pollution
Trauma – Emotional (loss of a loved one) and physical (car accident, major surgery)
Thankfully, there are steps you can take to re-set your adrenals so they can function properly again.
4 Steps to Fix Adrenal Fatigue
1. Change Your Diet
Specific diet changes can help you reset your hormones and fight adrenal fatigue. Changes include avoiding caffeine, sugar and artificial sweeteners, processed foods and hydrogenated oils, and any foods that irritate your digestive system or that you are sensitive to.(1, 2) Foods to include are (1, 2):
Healthy fats (Avocado, nuts, seeds, coconut oils, salmon)
Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts)
Probiotic foods (kefir, kimchi, saurkraut)
Sea vegetables (kelp and seaweed)
2. Minimize Stress
Though hard to do, finding ways to reduce stress is crucial for anyone dealing with adrenal fatigue. (1, 2)Ways to reduce stress are (1, 2):
sleeping more/taking naps
building “Me” time into your day
Ask for help
Avoid negative people
3. Adrenal Fatigue Supplements
There are a variety of natural herbs and supplements to support healing from adrenal fatigue. Always talk to your doctor before taking something new, start with low dosages, and keep track of your body and how it is feeling. Herbs and supplements that may help include (1, 2):
4. Essential Oils
One of the primary problems sufferers of adrenal fatigue face is a lack of energy and the inability to relax. Though diet and lifestyle changes are the most effective ways to heal from adrenal fatigue, essential oils can help speed up the healing process with their energizing, calming, and soothing properties.
How do Essential Oils Work?
When you breathe in essential oils, the smell receptors of your olfactory gland pick up the scent. These receptors are connected to the amygdala and hippocampus areas of your brain, which control your response to stress. The scent from the oils trigger a response in your brain to calm your body down and help you deal better with stress and anxiety (4, 6). Watch the video below to learn the 4 ways to use essential oils.
While you are healing from adrenal fatigue, there are essential oils you can use to give you a boost of caffeine-free energy, and ones that will help you relax and sleep better at night.
5 Essential Oils for Morning Energy
Try one of these oils to help wake you up in the morning and focus during your workday, without the anxiety and jitters that come along with caffiene. (4, 5)
Peppermint Extract Oil
5 Essential Oils for Relaxtion and Anxiety
These oils have been shown to fight depression, reduce anxiety, and help you to relax and sleep at night. (6)
As always, check with your doctor before using essential oils, to be sure that you are using ones right for you. Start off using small amounts and monitor your body for any unwanted reactions.
The symptoms of adrenal fatigue are non-specific and could be signs of other underlying health conditions. If you have any of the symptoms mentioned above, visit your doctor to be sure there isn’t something even more serious going on.