But we can run on adrenaline all the time, so our bodies have a built in counter balance- paraysmpathetic mode. This is also knowns as rest-and-digest, and it happens when stress decreases. Our bodies divert blood back to our internal organs, our digestion increases, our adrenals relax and we relax. Our parasympathic side also regulates deep sleep (stage 4), stimulates sex organs (libido and fertility).
But when is the last time you were truly in parasymptathetic mode? Go ahead, think about it. When your mind wasn't racing through a to-do list, where you weren't multi tasking, where you weren't running from one place to the next. Hard to remember? Would it surprise you to know we *should* be getting into parasympathetic mode multiple times/day?
The hormone cascade is pretty intricate. When we don't get into parasympathetic mode and our adrenaline and cortisol remains elevated it can wreak havoc on our bodies and mental health, and eventually those adrenals who are working so hard can't keep up with the constant demand and we get run down.
Ever get lightheaded on standing quickly? Crash at night and still feel exhausted in the mornings? Mind racing at night or waking around 1-2am? Lack of motivation but push through because you *have* to?These are all signs you are running on empty. Supplementation can help you feel better and give yourself some extra nourishment but if you don't change what caused the issue, it will just keep on coming back.
Changing your whole life routine can seem daunting but even simple changes can make a difference.
Add in some breathing exercises
Try an appEven though I want people to reduce their electronics use, this is one time where you can use your phone for good instead of....constant swiping. There are a tonne of meditation and breathing apps out there now with various capabilities including reminder alarms. Check out this list of apps we've found to be good options.
Focus on the bedtime routineIt is imperative to give yourself that time to switch from sympathetic to parasympathetic before hitting the pillow at night. This allows your body to start producing the hormones that create that deep, restorative sleep. If cortisol remains too high, you can have restless, light or broken sleep. Ditch the electronics at least an hour before bed (blue light messes with melatonin production) and instead engage in a calming activity like adult colouring, reading or knitting. Get into any routine that allows you some down time like taking a bath or having some tea, and make sure your bedroom is conducive for deep sleep such as completely dark and a cool, comfortable temperature.
Just sitIt's kind of weird when you think about it, but we have sort of forgotten how to just be. When is the last time you just sat and did nothing, no reading, no list making, no phone. Just. Sit. Start by adding a few minutes every day. Have your morning coffee in the backyard, front porch or a comfy chair inside and just sit and enjoy the space around you.
Get supportThe majority of our stress these days is kind of unavoidable- we have to get to work (traffic), we have to take care of kids, we have to have jobs, etc. so to say remove your stress is not realistic but it is important to find ways and tools to manage your stress. Get a massage; Participate in mindfulness; Take a yoga class; Talk to your Naturopathic Doctor about optimizing diet, nutrients and lifestyle to help deal with stress and cope. Herbs and supplements can also help support those adrenal glands and give them the nourishment they need after chronic stress.
Don't go it alone, involve the whole family
Start with small changes and don't worry about being perfect. It's a marathon not a sprint, you will always have ups and downs. Just remember, every journey starts with just a single step.