It’s no secret that as women we’re phenomenal achievers who can tackle and succeed at just about everything life throws at us. Chances are you started today by going into auto-pilot as you juggled fixing breakfast and lunch, answering important emails, walking the dog, balancing your checkbook, squeezing in a load of laundry, helping with overdue homework, and checking on your elderly parent or neighbor. And you did all this while adding even more to your “to do” list before finally getting everybody out the door — on time of course.
Your odds of adrenal problems are worse if you’re also dealing with:
- Allergies or sensitivities
- Chronic health issues
- Job stress
- Owning your own business
- Providing for your family as the sole or major breadwinner
- Dealing with sick or aging parents or any dependent with special needs
- Relationship problems
- An eating disorder
- Living or working in a noisy, demanding environment
- Uncertainties in your finances
But the problem is, we’ve become so good at multi-tasking that our bodies can’t keep up with everything we put our minds to doing. That triggers your stress response which stays “on” for extended periods and forces your adrenal glands to work longer, harder and differently than they were intended to.
As our bodies are stressed over and over again day after day, the destruction of our adrenal health is almost inevitable. This damage doesn’t happen overnight, but moves through a progression, though the experience can be different for each woman. You may even discover you have contradictory symptoms or get stuck in one stage for a long period of time.
Three stages of overstressed adrenal glandsStage one: You’re “wired”
Women in the initial stages of adrenal imbalance are best described as being “wired.” They feel over-energized all day, fueled by the high level of stress hormones the body produces to keep them alert and focused. Based on their accomplishments every day, these women may continue to take on even more obligations. Your friends may call you a “stress addict”.
While it’s natural for your body to generate more energy in response to stress, the process isn’t meant to be permanent. Unremitting stress requires your body to work too hard to constantly produce the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. Excess stress hormones do more than keep you on the go. They have a dark side: unwanted symptoms, such as extra weight, digestive difficulties, blood pressure irregularities and irritability. If you’re “wired,” you may also suffer from imbalances to your sex hormones, which also create troubling symptoms, like PMS, irregular periods, and those that occur during perimenopause and menopause.
To add insult to injury, even after racing all day you may find it impossible to settle down at night to sleep. If you do, your sleep will probably be irregular. At that point, you can feel drained or even overwhelmed by fatigue.Stage two: You’re “tired and wired”
Women who are both “tired and wired” can have frustrating and confusing symptoms. You feel exhausted in the day, but you still spend hours trying to fall asleep at night. And when you do drop off, you wake up in the middle of the night with your mind racing and your heart pounding with anxiety.
This maddening “can’t get up/can’t fall asleep” sequence happens when your natural 24-hour cycle of energy and relaxation gets off balance. If your stress hormone levels are too low in the morning, you may have a hard time getting up and, like many women, will rely on coffee or caffeinated soda to stay alert throughout the day. These patterns will always catch up to you at night, when your stress hormones peak and you can’t sleep.
In addition to difficulties with sleeping, being “tired and wired” can lead to weight gain, decreased sex drive, thyroid problems, digestive difficulties and sometimes depression.Stage three: You’re “tired”
Women with either of the other stress profiles can end up just plain “tired” — so exhausted and sapped of energy that it is a daily struggle to get out of bed, go to work or complete basic tasks around the house. If you fit into the “tired” category, you may have slipped into desperation because you rarely enjoy a good night’s sleep. You may never get more than a few hours of sleep at once. That cup of coffee that used to get you going doesn’t work anymore.
If this is happening to you, your adrenal reserves may simply be too exhausted to produce enough cortisol (and other important hormones including estrogen, progesterone and testosterone). You may struggle with other issues including weight gain, decreased sex drive and depression. Worse, you may begin to wonder if you’ll ever feel like yourself again.
It’s no wonder that being “tired” is such a problem for women who are starting perimenopause or menopause.
Are you tired, wired or both? Find out now
Are you recognizing yourself in one of these descriptions? You may not have realized that your symptoms were signs of adrenal imbalance. After identifying the number and severity of your symptoms, you can determine which natural options are right for balancing your adrenal glands in order to save you from tumbling further down the path to extreme adrenal imbalance.
The first step to feeling better is to take our Adrenal Health Profile. You’ll instantly know more about your individual symptoms, and you’ll get free ideas and tips to help you support your body during stressful periods. And you may also want to read our article on the natural approach to adrenal health.