Our lives are busier than ever before. For all of us these days, just living our daily lives causes stress and that can take a toll on our adrenal glands.
This causes these small pyramid-shaped endocrine glands that sit above the kidneys to be in a constant state of heightened stimulation, working almost constantly.
Our adrenal glands, or suprarenals are responsible for the production of anti-inflammatory and steroid hormones that keep the body in homeostasis, or stability during times of stress.
When your body is stressed, it’s your adrenals that help maintain balance. When they are taxed, the body’s ability to combat physical and emotional stress is greatly reduced.
The adrenal glands are meant to facilitate the fight or flight response and they prepare our bodies’ defense mechanisms to start the healing process in times of severe injury.
Adrenal stress may be triggered by lack of sleep, injury or surgery, emotional stress, drugs, alcohol or even by the foods we eat.
Excessive stress on the adrenal glands may also lead to a reduced ability to fight off inflammation in the body. Reducing stress triggers is the first step in reducing adrenal fatigue.
Seven ways to strengthen your adrenal glands
Meditation is a phenomenal way to reduce emotional stress. It not only balances the mind, meditation has been shown to regulate the hormone levels produced by the adrenal glands.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) adrenal fatigue is a sign of unbalanced chi, or life force within the kidneys. Weakened kidney chi refers to the energetic relationship between the kidneys and adrenal glands.
Acupuncture addresses this by opening energy channels called meridians specific to the kidneys. By balancing the kidney chi, the adrenals function better as a result of increased energetic healing.
Eat foods that support healthy adrenals and stay away from anything too stimulating. Alcohol, sugar, excessive salt and caffeine should all be avoided. Eat more whole foods that naturally energize the body like fresh veggies, fruits and high quality grains.
Increase your intake of magnesium as this mineral has a relaxing effect on the body. Eating smaller meals helps strengthen the adrenals by allowing them to rest more frequently throughout the day.
Exercise will naturally raise endorphins (the feel good hormones), which make us feel healthy and amazing. These chemicals combat stress and give the adrenals a break from producing stress-reducing hormones. There is such thing as too much exercise, so be careful to not overdo it.
Getting enough sleep and rest is just as important as getting enough exercise. Be sure to get a full 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. Your body needs that time to help repair itself. Anything less will actually put an extra burden on those little glands working so hard to keep you stabilized.
With everything in life going at such a hectic pace, be sure to spend some quality time relaxing alone or with your family in a quiet space. Go for a slow walk in nature, sit by the pool, read a book or simply sit outside and listen to the birds around you. It’s OK to slow it down a bit. Your body and adrenals will thank you in the long run.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed with emotional stress, talk to someone. Talking to a friend or even a therapist can be a great release. When we hold emotions and feelings in, it can be the cause of some of the greatest stress on the adrenals.
Jess Lewis-Peltier, ‘The Holistic Yogini’ is an expert in natural and alternative health, a holistic nutritionist, naturopath, biochemist and yoga teacher. Facebook Jess and follow her on Twitter.
Tang et al. University of Oregon (2007, October 9). Body-mind Meditation Boosts Performance, Reduces Stress. ScienceDaily.