Today’s video highlights how to support your body through burnout and adrenal fatigue. Why? Because chronic stress is rampant in our society. Because we’re all stressed to the max and overwhelmed with everything we need to do in our lives. Because we’re addicted to the chaos, even though we’re drowning in it.
In this video, I share the four key pillars to supporting your body during burnout or adrenal fatigue. In case you aren’t able to watch the video, or you simply prefer to read, here’s a recap of what I discuss.
First off, what is burnout?
Burnout or adrenal fatigue is often a state that we reach over long-term exposure to chronic stress. Stress can come from anything – work, relationships, family, etc. Unfortunately for us, our body can’t decipher between a workplace stress and a threat on your life. Regardless of the source, the response is the same.
Our endocrine system consists of a bunch of different glands, but those activated during stress include the hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal glands – also known as our HPA axis. When we perceive stress, our hypothalamus communicates to our pituitary which communicates to our adrenals, telling them to secrete stress hormones including cortisol, adrenaline and the neurotransmitter norepinephrine. As these messengers and hormones circulate in our blood, we experience things like increased heart rate and increased alertness. We’re in our ‘fight or flight’ state.
But what happens when the stress doesn’t go away?
Our body begins secreting more cortisol to deal with long-term stress, and we’re more likely to enter into that fight or flight state on a moment’s notice. Our body gets used to being stressed out and becomes less resilient to managing it. Over time, if too much cortisol is circulating in our body, our hypothalamus will begin to numb itself to the messages.
That moment is when you “crash”. You feel exhausted, drained, overwhelmed, burnt out and unmotivated. You’re burnt out and likely have adrenal fatigue.
(Not sure if you’re burnt out? Take my questionnaire to find out!)
So what now?
Well, in the medical community, the term adrenal fatigue is not entirely recognized. Doctors might say you have “busy brain” syndrome or call it “excess stress”.. Or simply they say you’re burnt out, and that you need to rest. That’s because there is no real medical fix for adrenal fatigue due to excess stress.
Instead, you’ll need to turn inside and support your body so that it can return to balance.
Here are my four key pillars to support your body during burnout:
What you eat affects your physiology in so many complex ways. Certain foods are inflammatory and put more stress on our body. Certain foods improve energy production while others deplete our energy. Certain foods affect our adrenal glands directly, putting more stress on our body. Some foods deplete the essential nutrients we need.
Eat whole foods.
Whole foods instead of refined foods are more likely to keep your blood sugar levels stable, which helps balance your energy throughout the day. That fatigue you feel will be supported by a good dose of quality nutrients. Add lots of healthy fats into your diet – like nuts and seeds, avocados, olive oil. Be sure to add lots of great protein-dense options – including lean meats if you eat animal products, or legumes and lentils as well as nuts and seeds if you eat a vegetarian or vegan diet. Be sure to eat lots of fruits and vegetables to get in those phytonutrients and antioxidants that support inflammation and provide a good dose of micronutrients.
Drink plenty of water.
Staying hydrated is HUGE. Your entire body – every single one of your cells – needs water to operate. Water is used for so many biochemical process in the body, including energy production. Drink your water and your body will thank you.
Cut out the coffee.
I go into more detail about it in this post, but simply – coffee zaps your adrenals even further by adding more stress on the body. Coffee also depletes your body of essential nutrients and can inhibit the absorption of certain key nutrients.
While I fully believe that whole foods should provide us with all of the nutrients we need, we know that our food quality is declining as the soil quality declines. I always like to support the body with additional nutrients just to make sure I’m getting what I need to thrive.
Supplementation can come in the form of vitamins and minerals. Some of my favourites for adrenal fatigue include a B-complex, magnesium and vitamin C. All of these are essential for supporting metabolism, cortisol and hormone production, and supporting the nervous system.
I also love supplementing with herbs, if possible. Look for adaptogenic herbs, which help our body adapt to stress by supporting our nervous system and adrenal glands. Chances are you’ve heard of ashwagandha, rhodiola, and maca, which are some of my favourites.
Supplementation can also come in the form of other products. Medicinal mushrooms have become very popular recently, and some of them are known to have adaptogenic effects. Probiotics and digestive support may also be required if you’re experiencing digestive distress.
Know that supplementation should be unique for everyone based on their needs and situations. If you are looking to introduce new supplements into your life, speak with a healthcare practitioner because some supplements are contraindicated under certain situations and with certain medications.
This is arguably one of the most important parts of overcoming burnout. You can do everything when it comes to changing your diet – you may be eating perfectly, supplementing your body in all the right ways, but if you don’t address the stress in your life, you won’t heal.
Check in with yourself. What is causing you the stress? Write down all of the sources. Now determine which ones are draining you the most. This is where your energy is being lost! Now, try and think up ways to change that relationship. Do you need to do everything? Can you say no sometimes?
Managing stress is very important too. Breathing exercises can help, as deep breathing actually reduces the heart rate and calms the mind. Practices like meditation and yoga are largely focused on breath-work and this is part of the reason why they’re so beneficial.
Also – SLEEP! Don’t forget to prioritize getting at least 8 hours per night. This is when your body repairs and resets itself. It’s critical to sleep so you can heal and rebalance your hormones.
Having the proper mindset will allow your body to recover much faster than those with the wrong mindset. Firstly, you need to recognize that you cannot support your body unless you put yourself first. This goes hand in hand with learning to say no. Say no if it serves you better to stay at home and relax. Even if your friends are going out on the town on a Friday night. If you know getting home late will ruin your sleep for the week, say no.
You also need to believe that you will heal. Believe that your body is strong. It’s meant to thrive. It’s meant to support you. The state you’re in is your body’s best way of making you listen! We so often ignore the signs, and our body finds ways to make us listen. Where you are right now is your sign. Listen to it. Be open to it. And believe that you can heal.
And there you have it! I could write an essay on each of those topics – there is so much that we can do to support our bodies as they naturally heal themselves from stress-related burnout. The big four places to focus your efforts include nutrition, supplementation, lifestyle and mindset. Now take these four pillars, support your body through burnout, and recognize how great you can feel.