Could you imagine a group of naked bodies in a grey sea clamouring over the top of each other, pulling one another down as they try to gasp for air? To some this is the fight of their life. The inability to breathe activates epinephrine and subsequently fear, the chest tightens, the pupils dilate, the fight for survival is now. Overwhelmed by elements of everyday life. Relationship breakups, financial pressures, family and extranious responsibilities, all this could lead to failure in all departments but in particular adrenal overload loading. Chronic stress can bring this about. Take heart, there is something we can do, but first lets have a look to see how the body responds to the stress overload.
Stress is actually a good thing. Although I think we may have stretched this a bit too far. Imagine your life being continually under threat. War blasting around you, no food , limited shelter with a piece of dirt as your bed. Sleeping with one eye open and constantly on the lookout for danger. Running from the enemy is a daily occurrence, but there is no where to go and no where to hide. No Valhalla, no peace, just constant fear and running. For most of us this scenario is not our reality but for some of us we live in this type of state, just the same. So why is it then that for at least 60% of our population if not more, live in this fear based state predominately existing in a survival mode.
Some of you may be familiar with being overwhelmed. An ever too common experience felt at any point in our life, some may say “at breaking point. It’s the point that you come to where you feel as if you are going to explode from anger or fall in a heap wailing like a medieval high priestess at a death ceremony. For some rocking in foetal position under a shower for hours may be a likely reaction. Described to me like insects crawling along nerve endings of the skin , exposed like sinewy wire piercing through the skin . This condition may be adrenal exhaustion and none of us are safe!
One of the questions aked , is this the result of a great deal more stressors in our lives from extraneous sources? or are they intrinsic (coming from within)? The constant stress of physical survival, may be the result of this modern day world. Perhaps we are not the most adapted creatures as we first thought . So what is pushing us to this breaking point? When men are observing a case of female histrionics mid cycle, they always put it down to hormones, when men are freaking out at the kids for making too much noise, women put it down too much stress in the office, either way hormones are responsible!
It’s a fact, it is just that there is so much stress today. Life’s pressures seem to accumulate and then when we can no longer take these pressures we react. Boom. The body and mind has limits. The one thing being the common denominator is stress. Check this out . . A single woman with four growing children taking on the financial pressures of purchasing a property that is well out of her financial reach. To meet these financial responsibilities she takes on a full time position, plus external contract work plus an additional member to the household to help pay her mortgage, by the way is grandiose for the run down unliveable skeleton of a house. To add fuel to the fire, she has a part time relatively new relationship, an ex- partner whom is selfish and un-supportive to her cause, whilst she juggles family life, the usual responsibilities of being a mother and……………………………………. need I go on, I think you get the picture.
So what does happen exactly? You may or may not have heard of the hormone- neurotransmitter, epinephrine or commonly known as adrenaline. Produced in the medulla of the adrenal glands it is also produced at the end of sympathetic nerve fibres. It serves as a chemical messenger that activates nor epinephrine (nor adrenaline) which mediates and conveys nerve impulses throughout effector organs. Adrenaline is released upon activation of the sympathetic nervous system and creates the energy and excitement associated with the fight or flight response. In contrast nor-epinephrine mediates this excitatory response and is responsible for the calming effect. The emotion that it is primarily associated with is fear.
Back in the Palaeolithic days it was activated only when it was absolutely necessary, like running from a lion! Basically our adrenal glands cannot keep up with the perpetual high demands of this fight or flight arousal and as a result there will be a deficit in our “feel good hormones” like the dopamine, gabba and serotonin that I have described previously. With the constant demands of the 21st century we seem to be continually running from the lion!
Affecting millions of people in western countries it is a syndrome not necessarily received by conventional medicine. Chronic use of the adrenals will not only exhaust you but will affect your ability to function on a daily basis. Typically, the smaller tasks like getting out of bed may be too arduous a task. With the reduction of adrenal hormone every organ and subsequent systems become affected, metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and fat changes. Fluid and electrolyte balances are affected, cardiovascular and the heart is affected resulting in low blood pressure, fatigue, irritability sleep disturbance and digestive problems. Biochemical alterations take place on a cellular level to compensate for the hormonal insufficiency.
Now that we have established what is happening, we can alter and turn this problem around. Taking time out from our hectic life schedules sometimes is the best answer . Take a hot bath filled with 2 cups of Epsom salts with lavender and a bunch of tea light candles. Take the control back, eat some eggs & avocado on some rye bread topped with a sprinkle of dukkah and add some labneh. Have a chicken breast with 150 g of broccoli with a hot lemon and ginger tea to stimulate digestion.
We all know the importance of deep breathing, when we go into that panic mode our breathing becomes shallow and we begin to pant , our pupils dilate, so breathe , deep breathe , just breathe! Become aware of your surroundings take yourself off for a long walk in the fresh air and breathe. Do some yoga or listen to some classical music . From a nutritional standpoint we need to Increase specifically B5, B6 , zinc and vitamin C – the chill pills that work with the enzymes specifically to synthesise the neurotransmitters . One of the most underestimated but powerful antioxidants is n-acetylcysteine (NAC) a missing ingredient for proper function of the methylation process.
Readdress your life, change the things that you can change and then try to look at your life from a different perspective . Get some counselling and never shy away from supportive networks. One of the most important pieces of advise that I have been given over the years is this, “this time too shall pass”. Remember there is hope .Be the change that you want to see in the world and may be, tomorrow will look differently .
Caroline is a clinical Nutritionist practicing on a consultation basis. Caroline's experience encompasses research and writing on disease prevention with natural herbs, spices, foods and supplementation. Caroline practices holistic nutritional medicine that combines the three elements of being human. Those being, the physical , emotional and the mental components that make us who we are. All of these criterior is fueled by the fundamental of all health, food .