The letdown that almost invariably follows an illness, a stressful event or even the holiday season is largely attributable to adrenal fatigue. However, with proper adrenal support you can often minimize or avoid the letdown and maintain a healthy ability to handle stress.
To understand why letdown occurs, it is helpful to know a little about the pattern of physiological adjustments your body makes in response to stress — regardless of its source.
Primarily through adrenal hormones, you prepare for the same physical “fight or flight” reactions as did primitive man, even though modern day stress rarely requires that you physically fight or flee.
Your initial stress reaction produces a large rise in cortisol, adrenaline and other adrenal hormones that mobilize your energy, mental and physical resources to take action. This lasts for a few minutes to a few hours — essentially how long it might take you to fight or run away from a threat. At the end of this alarm phase there is a recovery period lasting a few hours to a few days (depending upon the magnitude of the stress) when levels of cortisol and other adrenal hormones drop and remain low. This is a natural letdown phase during which you likely feel more tired and listless and want to rest. At this time your adrenals are temporarily fatigued and less able to respond to stress. The more fatigued or depleted your adrenals were at the time of the initial alarm, the longer and more debilitated your letdown.
If stress continues, your adrenals adapt to handle it by producing slightly elevated levels of hormones, particularly cortisol, in a kind of constant semi-alarm phase. This phase can last for weeks, months or even for many years. However, your body’s prolonged biochemical readiness for “fight or flight” without commensurate physical action causes increasing problems in your body the longer it goes on, and it becomes another source of stress. If stress persists beyond your adrenal’s capacity to maintain this higher function, or another stressful event occurs, your adrenals may eventually become depleted, leaving you in the more lasting letdown of adrenal fatigue and no longer able to respond adequately to stress.
Stress intensifies the demands on your body — nutrients are used up faster than they can be replaced by food, toxic by-products rapidly build up, and every organ and gland (including your brain) is asked to work harder. Your adrenal glands must respond to every stress you experience by producing hormones that help your body cope with the stress and maintain homeostasis.
When you can anticipate stressful times, you can make a significant difference to how you will feel and the amount of letdown you will experience by paying attention to what your body needs and stepping up your level of self care. The following tips should minimize letdown, and help you bounce back more quickly, become more stress hardy, sustain good energy, experience more refreshing sleep, and remain calm, clear-headed, focused and steady.
- Eat what your body needs to function optimally by choosing fresh, wholesome food. When your adrenals are stressed, it is especially important to eat regular meals morning, noon and evening which each contain protein, healthy fat and complex carbohydrate.
- Avoid foods that stress your body, such as sugar, white flour/refined grains,hydrogenated oils, excessive additives and junk food.
- Minimize substances that over-stimulate your adrenals, such as caffeine.
- Exercise regularly and make sure you get up and move around frequently throughout the day to help keep that “fight or flight” reaction from creating further internal stress.
- For at least ten minutes a day take a mental break – concentrate on your breathing, meditate or focus on something peaceful.
- Take dietary supplements specifically designed to support and strengthen your adrenal glands for at least a month leading up to the anticipated stressful time, as well as for as long as needed afterward. Look for supplements, like the ones suggested below, formulated by an expert in stress to provide your adrenals and stressed body with precise forms, amounts, and ratios of high quality, natural ingredients they can optimally assimilate and utilize to enhance your health and minimize letdown. The right supplements can make a world of difference.
- If you are stressed and having difficulty staying balanced during the day, tend to feel anxious or mildly depressed, or are having trouble sleeping, look for a combination of organic herbs designed to support the Hypothalamus/Pituitary/Adrenal (HPA) axis and adrenal function to help balance you during the day and promote sound sleep at night.
- Adrenal hormone production is very nutrient intensive, so supplementing with the precise nutrients your adrenals need to make these hormones can help you feel good and maintain a healthy response to stress. To enhance your response to and feel better while under stress, look for a combination of vitamins and minerals formulated in precise ratios, forms and amounts to replenish the specific nutrients used up by stress, facilitate the production of adrenal hormones, and support adrenal health.
- To replenish the vitamin C that gets rapidly used up during stress, look for a true sustained release supplement that provides a steady supply of an optimal amount of vitamin C, plus a 1:2 ratio of bioflavonoids to vitamin C to enhance the vitamin C activity and help protect your tissues from the oxidizing damage of stress, as well as trace minerals to neutralize the acidity of vitamin C so it’s easier on your stomach.
- If you have been depleted by stress, your adrenal glands may need deep replenishment and extra support to maintain healthy function and adequately respond to further stress. Look for a hormone-free multiglandular that contains adrenal, hypothalamus, gonad and pituitary concentrates designed to provide natural building blocks that fundamentally support and strengthen the structure and function of the adrenals and other glands affected by stress.
- Many people who feel stressed also experience energy lows at in the morning, mid-afternoon, or after exertion. To help temporarily bolster your energy at these times, look for a caffeine- free energy booster that is designed specifically to both provide support to your adrenals and naturally enhance your energy levels.
By taking steps to bolster and protect your health from stress, you can minimize the debilitating letdown that often occurs during and/or after a stressful event, and discover a new level of steadiness and stamina that allows you to enjoy life more fully, even in stressful times.