It really seems as though everything comes and goes in trends. One day mambo T-shirts and cargo shorts were cool… the next it was midriff tops and tube skirts. Serving Vol au Vents or Jatz crackers with French onion dip used to make you a fabulous dinner party host in the 80’s… but now if it isn’t made from quinoa, kale, acai or cacao – or at least from an organic, biodynamic, carbon neutral farm – you ain’t so cool. There was a period in time where mustard yellow and khaki were GREAT colours to decorate (even wallpaper!) your home with… until black, white and minimal took over (and the wallpaper was hopefully removed).
Well the same seems to go for health conditions – and the “in thing” right now is ADRENAL FATIGUE.
Now, I’m not saying that this isn’t a real condition. It most certainly is, and it causes devastating health issues for its sufferers. However I am not convinced that every person who feels exhausted or lethargic is suffering, and I want to explore what ELSE could be causing your low energy if it isn’t adrenal fatigue.
1. Inadequate sleep
This may sound really obvious, but there is more to your sleep than simply the number of hours that your head is on the pillow. How deep (and therefore restorative) is your sleep? Do you wake throughout the night, and if so, what is the cause? Are you going to bed feeling stressed or wound up about something? Did you eat appropriately in the evening and throughout the day? When the QUALITY of your sleep has been impaired, the QUANTITY becomes virtually irrelevant.
2. Food intolerances or allergies
It takes a lot of energy for your body to digest food as it is. Combine with this a food that cause aggravation or inflammation in the process and you have a recipe for disaster. It can also cause damage to the digestive tract, which leads me to the next point…
3. Nutritional deficiencies
Although we live in a time where food is incredibly abundant, a lot of our food is also incredibly VOID of nutrition. It is extremely common for me to see clients with nutritional deficiencies including iron, B vitamins, protein, zinc and many more. While this can be due to a nutritionally deficient diet, it can also be caused by malabsorption issues or certain conditions that inhibit the proper conversion and utilisation of the nutrients.
4. Endocrine disorders
True adrenal fatigue would fall into this category, along with things like hypothyroidism (whether clinical or sub-clinical) and diabetes or other conditions relating to blood sugar dysregulation.
Stress has a HUGE impact on our health and energy levels. Not only can it disrupt the function of ALL of our body systems, which can result in impaired energy production, but also the amount of physical energy consumed by mental and emotional energy should be noted.
6. Depression and anxiety
Following on from my point regarding stress, if you suffer from depression or anxiety (or suspect that you do), your energy levels will be seriously depleted. This is both on a biochemical and metaphysical level, and again can be clinically diagnosed or sub-clinical. While not specifically depression or anxiety, I would also like to mention negative attitudes/beliefs or self-talk. If you wake up every day and say to yourself “I’m so tired, I’m always tired, it isn’t fair that I’m tired, nothing good ever happens to me, I’m always going to feel this way, I give up” then you aren’t doing yourself any favours.
7. Chronic pain
This can be EXTREMELY draining for the body and will definitely impact your energy levels. So consider if you have back pain, arthritis, tummy pains, muscle cramps, headaches, toothaches even emotional pain that has been with you for a long while, and think back to how your energy was before.
8. Current or recent illness or infection
The ads telling us to “soldier on” have really done an injustice to our society, as we no longer find it acceptable to have a period of convalescence (or gentle recovery) following illness. Our culture is to get straight back into it, which really can allow the effects of illness to linger. If you have recently suffered from a virus or infection then it could still be draining your energy levels. While you may seem back to normal on the outside, your body is still working hard on the inside to heal and keep you well.
Whether this be liver toxicity from overindulgence of food/alcohol and overuse of medications, or generalised toxicity from environmental and chemical exposure it could be severely impairing your energy production. And ladies, this includes long-term use of the oral contraceptive pill or IUD devices.
10. Burning the candle at both ends
Are you working full-time, going to the gym, studying part-time, hosting dinners, going out for drinks, spending time with your family and trying to enjoy your relationship (while catching up on 3 seasons of Revenge?). Well NO WONDER you are tired. That’s a whole lotta things to do and think about. BUT it is important to ask yourself why. Why do you keep yourself so busy? Why do you say YES at the expense of your well-being? It may seem like “normal” behaviour in our crazy and fast paced world, but my dear, you are putting yourself on the path to adrenal fatigue.
So what do I do and how do I know what it is making me tired?
While it is great to clean up your diet, get more sleep, do some gentle exercise and support your adrenal glands, it is also important to get to the bottom of why YOU personally are fatigued, and this is best done with the guidance of an experienced practitioner. The points listed above are just SOME of the possibilities, and it is VITAL that you determine exactly what is going on for you. So seek help, don’t feel like it is normal to be tired, or that people will think you are complaining or somehow lazy. See your practitioner, or come and see me. Together we can decipher your underlying drivers for fatigue and create a personalised plan that will work to support and heal you within your constraints.
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I look forward to working with you and to getting your energy to a 10 out of 10!