In my previous two articles, I have discussed the function of the adrenal glands and what can happen when we neglect their importance, as well as foods that can help you eat to beat adrenal exhaustion.
Here are 9 lifestyle pointers to help support your adrenal health.
1. Getting plenty of good quality sleep
To look after your adrenals, aim to be in bed by 11 pm at the latest, even if you tend to feel more energetic at this time than at other times of the day; staying up past midnight or ‘burning the candle at both ends’ is a disaster for our adrenal health. Turn off any computers or tablets, and preferably the television, at least two hours before going to bed. The bright light that they emit can block the production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle and makes us feel sleepy at night time. Try using dim lighting later in the evening. It’s important to note that when melatonin is suppressed, cortisol rises and this can interfere with progesterone, and long-term, our hormonal balance.
2. Getting regular exercise
Just like a healthy diet, exercise is vital for many aspects of our health. It can lower levels of the stress hormones such as cortisol, help to relax tight muscles, and increase our levels of endorphins – chemicals that give us a sense of well-being. Walking, swimming, a gentle jog, a dance class, or some form of yoga can be excellent types of exercise to relieve stress. It can be best to avoid more vigorous exercise such as spinning, fast running or squash if you are going through a very stressful time or suffer from adrenal fatigue, as these types of activities tend to further stimulate the adrenal glands.
3. Identifying Stress
Try to identify the main sources of stress in your life, or things that have a negative effect on how you feel, and make a plan to eliminate them or reduce their impact.
4. Learning how to relax
Meditation, deep breathing, yoga, listening to relaxing music, or hypnotherapy recordings designed to help relaxation may all be able to help.
5. Doing something enjoyable (for yourself)
Set aside regular time to do something that you love and that makes you feel good, or try to find a hobby, and don’t feel guilty for spending time on yourself. Laughter, in particular, is highly stress-relieving. Surround yourself with the people that make you smile.
6. Organising your goals
Not managing tasks or projects well can lead to stress. Consider making lists, setting realistic goals so that you don’t find whatever needs to get done is overwhelming. Get control to reduce stress!
7. Work, life, balance
Try to avoid checking emails when you're out of work. If you're more structured while ‘working’ it makes a clear line of distinction when you are in ‘non-work mode’. You are better off getting an early night to rise early the next day to tackle pressing tasks.
8. Putting yourself first
If you are trying to recover and rebalance your energy, this can take some time. Sleep and rest are important so do not over-fill your life with activities and social outings. Be selective about when you go out and most evenings after work – go home, eat, relax and go to bed!
9. Stop feeling guilty
Perhaps the most important tip of all is to stop feeling guilty about resting. For some of us, this can be the hardest one to implement. We are living in an era where ‘doing’ is valued more than ‘being’ and this is having a detrimental effect on our mental and physical wellbeing. Finding time to rest into yourself and simply ‘be’ will bring about more productivity in the long run.
For more on the importance of the correct nutrition for maintaining adrenal health, see 'What is adrenal exhaustion?' and 'Eat to beat adrenal exhaustion'