Is that third cup of coffee still not peeling your eyes open? Are you exhausted, but can’t fall asleep? Adrenal Fatigue just might be the culprit. But instead of popping another pill, here is how to heal your adrenals naturally with Qigong.
From a medical perspective, you might be surprised to hear, but there is no such thing as adrenal fatigue. The condition of adrenal insufficiency, in which the adrenal glands fail to produce the required amounts of hormones they should, is most often due to underlying disease or the result of surgery. However, the collection of symptoms that comprise the layperson definition of adrenal fatigue are nevertheless all too real.
Because the symptoms of adrenal fatigue often fall into the mild category of improper biological function, medical professionals often have trouble diagnosing or treating the resulting collection of symptoms. This is why people often seek out how to heal the adrenals naturally.
What are the signs of adrenal fatigue?
Adrenal fatigue is more accurately classified as a collection of symptoms in a similar way as is I.B.S. People will often report feeling;
Fatigue and exhaustion no matter how much sleep they get.
The inability to fall asleep, even when feeling exhausted.
Seemingly random body aches.
Food cravings for salty or sweet
Lack of motivation to do anything
The symptoms can range from mild to severe, but often will not correspond to the classical medical definition of adrenal insufficiency or be properly confirmed on blood tests. This is where the problem lies in getting treatment from your average GP, and once again why people will often research how to heal the adrenals naturally.
Why do we get adrenal fatigue?
Our autonomic nervous system is fantastic at regulating bodily responses to situations we find ourselves in. Accordingly, we have two functional states that our bodies can exist in to facilitate these responses.
The first is controlled by our Sympathetic nervous system. This state and response are commonly referred to as “Fight or flight”. This is our “Crap, I’m being chased by a lion!” response. This state diverts blood and nourishment from our digestive and reproductive systems and redirects it to our muscles to help make our hasty getaway.
The sympathetic nervous response also shuts off our analytical mind and activates the reflex centres of our brain. The last thing you want to be doing when a lion is running toward you is to spend time asking yourself…. “Is that a South African lion or a northern plains lion?” All you want to be thinking about and doing …..is RUNNING!!!
Now we often categorize “STRESS” as a bad thing. But that is just not the case. Stress is necessary to make changes in our bodies and our lives. It is only when we are experiencing stimulus outside of our “comfort zone” that we change and grow. Working out is a form of stress. Solving a problem is a form of stress. Mowing the lawn is a form of stress, reading this blog…. Yes is a form of stress!
Any time our body is challenged by something outside the norm, it can be considered stress. As I said before, stress is a natural and healthy stimulus as long as it is SHORT TERM!
Our autonomic nervous system is designed to engage our sympathetic response about 10% of the time. This response has not changed in thousands of years. Back in the proverbial day, when that lion would chase us…. We ran like hell. After a few moments stress is over (one way or another! Lol). The rest of the day we wandered around looking for berries, drinking at the river and having a snooze.
Today’s world is a touch different, and a lot has to do with all the not-so-natural light sources we are exposed to. You see, every time we scroll through our phone, stare at the computer screen or binge Netflix, that artificial light tells our brain “hey it's morning, wake up!!”.
Morning is when cortisol levels are highest. It’s what gets us out of bed. But come noon the sun is at its peak and then from then on it slowly gets dimmer until it's dark and our brain says “hey you, it’s bedtime”.
All our tech is messing with our biological clock. We think every moment of the day is time to wake up, and that is exhausting us! But what makes matters worse, is that every moment our sympathetic nervous system is engaged means another moment that our Parasympathetic nervous system is shut off.
The parasympathetic state of “REST, DIGEST, HEAL” is supposed to be engaged 80-90% of the time. But if the opposite is true, is it any wonder we feel the way we do?
How do you heal your adrenal glands?
When you think to yourself “Can you heal the adrenals naturally?”, a simple place to start are with those parasympathetic headlines, “rest, digest, heal”.
Rest - Give yourself some REST from “Tech” every now and then. Give your phone the weekend off sometime… it deserves it. When was the last time you actually turned your phone off? I don’t mean side button click to the sleeping screen, I mean the dreaded “slide to turn off” Don’t worry it will still love you, and Instagram won’t crash. Try leaving your phone at home the next time you go out with your special someone (wait is there somewhere where people actually can go out???)
I promise you, you will notice how much quieter the day feels. How much slower time goes by. How much LESS busy the day becomes.
Giving your eyes a much-needed break from all that artificial stimulus can go a long way to bring you back into balance with the natural light stimulus of nature as well as the speed of nature, not to mention make you feel a hell of a lot better.
Digest- If you’re asking yourself “Does your diet affect adrenal fatigue?” The answer is absolutely!!!!!! When it comes to food, there are two things we want to get some rest from.
Caffeine - Try cutting the amount of coffee or tea you drink on a daily basis in half, or better yet give your coffee pot or Tim’s card the day off! Caffeine is one of the most popular stimulants we take in on a daily basis. The vast majority of us are totally addicted to its power. If you can’t go three days without a coffee and without a headache, chances are your body is addicted to the black gold!
If you usually drink two cups, cut it to one. If one is all you drink, go to every other day. Every little bit you can cut back will help. You can even try switching to herbal tea on certain days. Every day without caffeine is a day your adrenals will say Thank You!
Sugar - Giving your body a rest from the sweet stuff is a great way to calm your internal environment. Every time you spike your blood sugar and insulin with some sugary goodness, you throw your body out of balance. Blood sugar imbalances lead to hormonal imbalances which lead to emotional imbalances. I’m tired just thinking about it!
Every spike in blood sugar is followed by the inevitable trough. All those short-term highs and corresponding lows leave the body in a perpetually stressed state.
Here is something to remember. When your cortisol (stress hormone) is high, your body is in storage mode. So if you are filling it with sugary treats, while in this state, your body will be very happy to store all that sweet goodness. It will simply convert it to the storage form of sugar and add a few extra rolls of ….. you.
Foods to add - A high percentage plant-based diet goes a long way to keep inflammatory stress down in the body. A simple way to approach it is to fill one-quarter of your plate with lean organic protein and then fill the other three quarters with a variety of dark green and bright coloured veggies.
Doing so will ensure you get a wide variety of good bacteria and fibre to keep your gut healthy while avoiding the spikes and valleys of processed foods.
What exercise is best for adrenal fatigue?
Being physically active is a must. Our bodies are built to move. But if your life is already filled up to your eyeballs with stressful stimuli, a high-intensity workout may not be the answer you’re looking for.
Instead of pounding the iron or spinning like crazy, try incorporating an activity that is more calming in nature. Exercise doesn’t have to be intense to be effective. It simply has to challenge your mind and body to do something it is not used to.
Yoga, Tai Chi and Qigong are all great ways to activate the muscles of the entire body. They train coordination, balance, joint stability, flexibility and breath control. They also have the added benefit of including a mental connection to the moment which turns the physical exercise into moving meditations.
Exercise that slows your breathing and your mind down has the same effect on your nervous system. Incorporating moving meditations like these even a few times a week is a prescription for adrenal happiness!
Does Qigong help with adrenal fatigue?
Qigong exercise is a fantastic natural treatment for adrenal fatigue. Many Qigong movements focus on specific organs like the lungs, spleen, heart, liver and kidneys by stimulating the acupuncture meridians to promote the movement of blood and oxygen within them. By doing so the exercise can actually help them heal from within.
But the healing benefits go well beyond the organ stimulation. The movements of Qigong challenge your muscular coordination and balance, facilitating ease of movement and better reaction to external stimulus. This type of training is quite helpful as we age, as it limits trip and fall injuries.
In addition, the extended diaphragmatic breathing incorporated in Qigong helps you to properly oxygenate the body, as well as promote peristaltic movement through the digestive tract facilitating better digestion and elimination.
However, the greatest power of Qigong lies in the mental training aspects. The physical movements and the controlled breathing patterns serve to anchor the mind to the present moment.
By connecting to the moment, stresses of the past and anxiety of the future melt away, leaving only the peace and quiet of the present.
Never forget, when it comes to a natural treatment for adrenal fatigue, a mindful connection to healthier ways to REST, DIGEST, and HEAL should always be your focus.
If you found this post helpful, please help someone by sharing this article – help me to help others 🙂 !