Overcoming Winter Stress and Adrenal Fatigue
Winter serves such an amazing purpose for inward reflection. During this unusually cold and snowy winter, however, many people had difficulty adapting to the additional stressors placed on their bodies. The adrenals (stress glands) worked really hard and the results of chronic, prolonged stress can be adrenal exhaustion or adrenal fatigue.
Some signs of adrenal exhaustion or fatigue are physical and emotional fatigue, depression, lack of drive/motivation, abdominal fat accumulation, seasonal allergies, salt craving, insomnia, back pain and body aches, recurring colds or flu, high or low blood sugar, high and then low blood pressure, and hormone imbalance (especially hot flashes).
Now that winter is finally behind us, it’s a great time to discuss stress and adrenal health because April is National Stress Awareness Month. Sponsored since 1992 by the nonprofit Health Resource Network (HRN), this designation offers the opportunity to increase public awareness of both the causes and cures for our modern stress epidemic.
Surprisingly, adrenal exhaustion affects children as well as adults. It can last from a few days to several months, but most people recover within several weeks. For efficient recovery, a clinician needs to identify the right treatment strategy using skillful interpretation of test results, proper lifestyle recommendations,and nutritional support (right time, right dose, right delivery system).
Nutritional supplement recommendations may include the following:
- Vitamin C —The highest levels of this vitamin are found in the adrenal glands and the body uses and releases more Vitamin C during periods of stress.
- Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) —Critical for the adrenal glands to produce stress hormones.
- Vitamin E — Absorbs and neutralizes damaging free radicals in the adrenal glands.
- Vitamin D —Helps boost the immune system.
- Hormones such as Pregnenolone and DHEA can be used to boost adrenal function. They should be taken when prescribed by a clinician and are intended for short-term use only.
- Herb or botanicals such as Ashwagandha, Siberian ginseng, and licorice help to manage the stress response and support adrenal function.
Lifestyle recommendations to support adrenal fatigue recovery may include:
- Getting plenty of sleep
- A diet full of healthful whole foods including vegetables, with a protein drink in the morning
- Beneficial exercise such as walking or yoga
- Meditation and relaxation.
Finally, laughter, fun, play, enjoyment: All are essential to achieving optimal health and wellness — and make life truly worth living!
Dr. Lisa Lewis, ND, Lac., is a leading naturopathic physician, acupuncturist, healthy living expert and the author of Stop Stressing Me Out: 7 Strategies to Overcome Overwhelm & Conquer Disease Naturally. She is the owner of the Lewis Healing Institute and partner of Nature Drs, a nutritional supplement and wellness company. Learn more about Dr. Lewis at DrLisaLewis.com.