Help your body cope with stress:
If you want your body to keep up with the busy period that is Christmas and New Years, then start by preparing ways to manage now. Adrenal fatigue is often one of the underlying causes of recurring colds and flus, feeling run down and disrupted hormone balance. The main interpretation of Adrenal fatigue is feeling ‘Wired & Tired’, meaning that your mind is having trouble winding down, it struggles to rest, constantly ticking – thinking of the next job to do (hence the ‘Wired’), but your body feels lethargic, slow and possibly painful (hence the ‘Tired). Adrenal fatigue is part of a larger response called ‘General Adaptation Syndrome’ (GAS) that has three stages- Alarm phase, Resistance Phase and Exhaustion Phase. Alarm phase is where the body sits in ‘fight or flight’ mode, and adrenal hormones such as Adrenaline and noradrenaline are released by the adrenal glands in response to a stressor. Resistance phase is when the stressor has passed and the body returns back to balance, however with prolonged or intense stress, the body may become overwhelmed and unable to resist stressors adequately- leading to the Exhaustion phase. Exhaustion phase is where the body cannot react to stress like it is supposed to, leading to a reduction in cortisol and adrenaline, allowing physical illness to set in – which is most likely what happens to most of us when the holiday period ends. The most important thing for you to do to maintain balance is to support your adrenal glands by nourishing them with good food, stress reduction and rest.
Some helpful guidelines for implementing this are:
Consume high quality protein
Such as fish, lean, grass fed and preferably organic meat, eggs, legumes and seeds with every meal. Protein is the building block for neurotransmitters and stress triggers the breakdown of protein from muscle tissue, leaving you fatigued and reaching for carbohydrate dense foods (ie. Hot chips and pizza!).
Plan your meals in advance
So that you’re not skipping any meals to attend a family get-together or work Christmas function. Skipping meals deprives the body of nutrients and inhibits digestive function, which can lead to bloating and tiredness.
Incorporate high quality nutrients
To your daily supplement regime. One of the greatest and most accessible nutrients for our adrenal gland function is Vitamin C. We cannot produce Vitamin C and stress uses Vitamin C stores quickly- possibly leading to deficiency during prolonged stressful periods. The other nutrients are B vitamins, which play a role in energy production and supports adrenal cortex function; some studies even found that B5 has the ability to lower the secretion of cortisol in periods of stress. Consult your Naturopath or Nutritionist for dosages.
Such as Liquorice root, Passionflower and Lemon Balm have tonifying and cortisol balancing effects and are a fantastic way to build up and support your adrenal glands before, during and after the holiday period. Herbal tonics are also a highly effective method of supporting your body through these periods, and it is best to consult your Naturopath as to which herbs would suit you.
Choose healthier options to celebrate with:
Now we’re not going to suggest you drink alcohol or eat copious amounts of cheese platters and finger foods, but if you do then try and choose better options to help yourself recover and rejuvenate afterwards. Organic wine, beer and spirits are available and will reduce toxic load of preservatives, additives and artificial flavourings to your afternoon drink. You can even get Gluten free beer that may help reduce the bloating that you experience after drinking regular beer. You can also mix up your selection of party foods by making your own dips, using vegan cheeses on occasion and being conscious of your cracker choice- there are so many options out there for preservative and additive free party food and this will help to minimize bloating and post-work party fatigue.
Plan a detox period before and after the holiday season:
If you know that you have a few work parties coming up and the holiday season makes you feel terrible by the end, then plan a structured detox program with your Naturopath, Nutritionist or Health provider. This will allow your body to clear out unwanted toxins, alcohol and other substances to bring your body back to balance. You can even participate in a detox before the holiday season to give your body and your adrenal glands a little break and nourishment- this will allow for the Resistance phase of stress adaptation to kick in and balance out (as described earlier). A good detox will contain liver support, digestive support, nervous system support and dietary recommendations to reduce toxic burden. It will most likely leave your feeling rejuvenated, healthy and restored.
Most importantly- keep balanced:
Be conscious of balancing the parties with reading a nice book on the beach, a little yoga or a short nap- your body will thank you at the end for giving it time to rest and refresh in the busy times ahead.
Yours in health,
Written by Kirra Morrill for Evolving Health Clinic