Our bodies have two adrenal glands, located just above each of our kidneys. As part of our endocrine system, our adrenal glands secrete more than 50 hormones, many of which are essential for life.
The most common of these hormones are:
• Adrenaline. This hormone increases your heart rate and controls blood flow to your muscles and brain. It also helps with the conversion of glycogen to glucose in your liver.
• Glucocorticoids. These hormones help your body convert food into energy, normalize blood sugar, respond to stress, and maintain your immune system’s inflammatory response. The most well-known hormone here is cortisol.
• Mineralocorticoids. These hormones assist your blood pressure and blood volume to keep a normal balance by maintaining a proper balance of sodium, potassium, and water in your body.
These two glands weigh little and are about the size of a walnut, however, they perform a mighty role in our bodies, and they are responsible for managing our stress.
An excellent book, “The 21st Century Stress Syndrome” by James Wilson, explains that our adrenals are “the glands of stress”. He says, “It is their job to enable your body to deal with stress from every possible source, ranging from injury and disease to work and relationship problems. Your resiliency, energy, endurance and your very life all depend on their proper functioning.”
Our adrenal glands are there, in the main to help us cope with stress, but too much stress actually causes them to malfunction and break down.
A key function of our adrenal glands is to get our body ready for the “fight or flight” stress response, so we can run from a crocodile, which means increasing adrenaline and other hormones to assist us.
While this response is necessary and good when it’s needed, many of us are constantly faced with stressors, like thoughts about our future, money, not enough sleep, work, relationship problems, family, and other things. The downside to all this is that the “fight or flight” mode is switched on for far too long, much longer than was ever intended from a biological standpoint.
The outcome is that your adrenal glands, faced with excessive stress and worry, become overworked and fatigued. ‘Burn out’ results and we have to just stop and take stock of our health.
As the names implies, the most common symptom of ‘burn out’ is unrelenting fatigue, a feeling of being run down, or not able to keep up with your daily activities.
The good news is that natural treatments are very effective for this problem, and with time and patience, it is possible to recover. Things that help:
• The most important area is to have powerful de-stress tools and strategies to address the stress in your life. You will find a great selection of tools at https://www.stresstostrength.com/stress-relief-tools/
• Listen to your body, and rest when you feel tired. Taking short naps or just laying down helps.
• Sleep in if you need to.
• Exercise regularly, outside as much as possible, so you can get vitamin D from the sunlight.
• Eat a healthy diet with virtually no processed food. Organic, if possible, and lots of fresh fruit and vegetables that are in season.
• Avoid stimulants like coffee and soda drinks.
By Dr John Hinwood
for the Stress to Strength team