The Relationship between Common Stressors and Adrenal Fatigue
Stress is a significant contributor to adrenal fatigue. What exactly is stress? It’s difficult to quantify, but you know when you’re under stress. One commonly used definition of stress is how you physically and/or emotionally respond to stimuli. Stressors can be external (your environment) or internal (your thoughts or emotions). You’re usually reacting to multiple stressors at any given time.
Constant stress throws your body out of balance and affects the functioning of many glands, especially the adrenal glands.
If stress is so bad, then why does your body have the ability to be stressed at all? Well, acute stress can be beneficial and actually life-saving. The goal of the fight-or-flight reaction is self-preservation.
Imagine for a second that you’re living in prehistoric times being chased by a wild boar. Your fight-or-flight reaction kicks in because you’re running for your life. This stress reaction ends when you climb a tree to escape or figure out a way to trap and kill the boar. This is an example of a normal or physiologic stress, and your reaction helps keep you alive.
In modern times, you may have an acute stress response when fleeing from an attacker or trying to avoid a car crash. In those situations, your pupils dilate, your heart rate increases, and your endurance and reflex capabilities are maximized so you can run farther and faster away from your attacker or turn to avoid the crash. Here, the acute stress saves your life.
Compare these scenarios to the constant sources of stress in modern daily life. You face personal, family, and work stressors, and even your cellphone and other electronic devices can be sources of electromagnetic stress.
You can probably relate in some way to the following scenario: You jump out of bed at the sound of a buzzer, still exhausted because you got only 6 hours of sleep. You quickly dress, rush to get out the door, and figure you’ll grab breakfast on the way.
Maybe you say goodbye to your significant other and kids, or maybe you fly out the door and miss them entirely. You go to your local coffee spot and grab a large morning coffee (the Super Jolt) as well as a doughnut, bear claw, or other sugary substance.
You drive to work, fervently looking at the time, hoping to make that next light so you won’t be late. You miss the light and begin to curse at the person in front of you traveling 20 mph in a 55 mph zone. You may add a couple of angry honks for good measure.
You barely make it to work on time and wait with a mob of people for the elevators. Although you work on only the third floor, you avoid the exercise of running up the stairs (if you have adrenal fatigue, you’re simply too tired). You mutter under your breath because the elevator is running slow.
You spend the rest of your day stressing out over deadlines; you work through lunch and through your breaks. You deal with various memos and bosses who don’t have a clue about what the heck you do all day.
You may even work late and grab something from the drive-through at your local burger joint on the way home. You drive home, exhausted, and still get little sleep. The next day begins like the previous one.
For most people, this is what a typical day consists of: chronic stress, poor sleep, inadequate nutrition, little or no exercise, and increased inflammation. Their adrenal glands never get a chance to rest and recuperate.