Phew! The hustle and bustle of the holidays are finally over.
So that’s it. No more stress until next December, right?
But if you’re like many women with Hashimoto’s, you may experience an onslaught of stress throughout the year. You know the kind… it makes you feel tired to your bones (hello, fatigue), yet still has you tossing and turning at night with a racing mind (cue insomnia).
Except… that mind tends to shut right off again once the sun comes out. (Brain fog, anyone?)
The stress can feel never-ending. And, it might be. That’s because, if you’re like many women living in the 21st century, you may be caught in a vicious stress cycle that is tough to get out of without the right knowledge and tools.
The Stress Cycle
First, we experience some type of stressor. This is called the Alarm Phase.
This can be the death of a loved one, a divorce, financial problems, health problems, job problems… you name it, we all experience it!
The stress triggers the production of cortisol and DHEA, leading to anxiety. Soon, you can’t stop moving during the day and at night? Sleep just isn’t happening.
Next comes the Adaptation Phase.
If the stress doesn’t let up, the stress hormones will eventually begin to ease back down to normal. But, before that happens, the adrenals (the glands producing the stress hormones) begin to tire.
Finally, the Exhaustion Phase.
This is when you really start to feel it. The adrenals give up and cortisol crashes. You’re tired. You’re looking around for your next caffeine fix, but it’s never enough.
Could You Be Experiencing Adrenal Fatigue?
If your adrenals are fatigued, the cycle will continue to worsen. You might crave foods that raise your insulin (and cause your blood sugar to plummet).
The exhaustion becomes a constant state of being, and getting through the day becomes a struggle.
If that wasn’t bad enough, you may begin to feel sad, moody, or depressed. That’s because the high cortisol levels from the prolonged exposure to the stressor have led to a reduction in serotonin levels1, and your brain is now craving a hit of happiness.
If you can relate, you may be experiencing adrenal fatigue.
Before we treat, we want to know exactly what’s happening with your body.
You can take a cortisol test to get a clear reading of your levels. Getting the right test is important (you can get more information about customized lab panels here).
When you submit to a saliva cortisol test, we can determine which phase of stress you are experiencing and suggest a treatment.
Treating Adrenal Fatigue
If you’re experiencing stress at any stage, Vitamin B and Magnesium are good places to start.
Knowing your cortisol levels are important. Depending on your current stage, the following may be recommended.
- PS (phosphatidylserine) to regulate high cortisol levels
- Amino acids L-theanine and GABA to help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety
- Ashwagandha to relax and balance the adrenal glands
- Rhodiola, Holy Basil, Eleutherococcus, Maca and Ashwagandha to help your body counter stress
- Glandulars, to increase cortisol
- DHEA to balance cortisol
Taking Stress into Your Own Hands
Besides supplements, there are some lifestyle changes that could help your body better cope with ongoing stressors.
First, check your diet. As we mentioned, high levels of cortisol may lead to sugar cravings, but sweets and refined carbs only make the problems worse. Cut back on refined carbs.
Although it might be difficult at first, aim for more sleep. Sleeping for 7-9 hours helps your body get the rest it needs to properly regulate your hormones.
Move that body. Regular exercise can reduce cortisol and keep your adrenals running strong.
Calm your mind. Practices like yoga and meditation help your mind process the external stressors and return to a state of calm.
Manage Your Stress, Manage Your Health
Beyond feeling sluggish, stressed, and just plain down, stress can have a bigger impact on your overall health.
Stress has been known to lead to weight gain (both from increased carb intake as well as a reduction in estrogen levels, which can lead to a higher rate of fat deposit… fun!)
And speaking of craving those sweets…
If you give in to the cravings (let’s face it, it’s hard not to), you could set yourself up for insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome.
When you constantly spike your insulin with sugary foods, cells begin to become desensitized. Insulin no longer does its job of removing sugar from the blood. This leads to chronic high blood sugar, diabetes, and even more belly fat (no, thank you).
So although the holidays have come and gone, we don’t want to let stress linger in our lives.
The risk is just too high.
Rather than letting stress take over, take action.
Find out if you’re experiencing abnormal levels of cortisol and create a plan for supporting your adrenals. Include healthy, stress-reducing habits in your daily life to help your body cope and give your adrenals a chance to rest and recover.
Once we identify the issue, we can move forward with a dietary, supplement, and lifestyle plan to help alleviate your symptoms and (most importantly) set you on track for a long and beautiful life! Check out our various ThyroSisters™ Freedom Programs to see if there may be a perfect fit for you at www.thyrosisters.com . You are not alone in this health journey. For the time being, here’s a quick guide I put together to help you find some of the answers you’ve been looking for.