The past couple of years have been some of the most stressful I’ve ever endured. I’m so grateful that I learned long ago that the most important time to care for myself is during periods of high stress. I’ve learned so much about how stress impacts the body. I know now how damaging constant stress can be to the adrenal glands and importance of healing them naturally.
Correlation Between Stress and Your Adrenal Glands
I’m sure you are familiar with stress — it’s a constant element in women’s busy lives. But you may not be as familiar with the body’s response to stress. The ways we face stress today goes far beyond the kind of stress we faced as we evolved. Plus, you may not know how stress can deplete your energy and health.
When faced with a stressful situation, our bodies rely on the adrenal glands sitting atop our kidneys to monitor our “fight or flight” response. For the most part, our stress response evolved from short-term events — crises that came and went. If we had to run from a predator, for example, our healthy adrenal glands responded by releasing adrenaline, cortisol, and glycogen. Adrenaline makes us more alert and focused, cortisol converts protein to energy and releases our stored sugar, and glycogen provides our bodies with the fuel needed to respond quickly.
In concert, the adrenal response rapidly increases our heart, respiratory rates and blood pressure. At the same time, it releases energy, tenses our muscles, sharpens our senses, and slows our digestion. This is all beautifully orchestrated so we are primed to escape or fight back – whichever is needed. When the threat is gone, the body returns to normal — quickly with respect to adrenaline levels, less quickly with respect to cortisol.
Permission to Nurture Yourself: Granted!
In today’s society, women are inundated with stress — stress that doesn’t let up. And our adrenals can’t tell the difference between this kind of stress and a real threat to survival.
When chronic stress repeatedly forces the adrenal glands to sustain high levels of cortisol, two things happen:
- The adrenals can’t attend to their broader role in hormonal regulation. This is because the same resources they use to make hormones like estrogen are required to make cortisol.
- Cortisol starts to damage healthy tissues.
Eventually, adrenal fatigue sets in. Many women experience symptoms such as weight gain, fatigue, insomnia, fuzzy thinking, depression, cravings and mood swings. Once the adrenals become depleted, it’s a short path to adrenal exhaustion and, potentially, more serious health concerns.
The best way to counteract the hormonal imbalance stress can create is to take care of yourself. Are you, like many women I see, someone who spends a lot of your time taking care of everyone else? If so, it’s more important than ever to make time for yourself. Do something to care for your body, your mind and your soul. I suggest getting a massage, a reiki treatment, even taking a nap or hot bath.
There are many ways to replenish adrenal health naturally. I can’t remove stress from your life, only you can. But one thing I can promise you is that when you heal your adrenal glands, you’ll see results on every physical and emotional level. And you know what? Your whole body will thank you for it!