Written By: Dr. Laurie Blanscet
We all hear how stress is bad for our health but you may not fully understand what it does to your body. A big part of the stress reaction are your adrenal glands. You have two adrenal glands–one on top of each kidney. These critical glands produce a variety of things–they produce Adrenaline (allows you to have a fight or flight reaction), Cortisol (anti-inflammatory, helps recovery from stress), Aldosterone (important for blood pressure and water/salt balance, and they also produce some sex Hormones (mainly DHEA and Testosterone).
When you are under mental or physical stress, your adrenal glands respond and produce Adrenaline and Cortisol. This is a survival technique and it is an important reaction. However, a problem arises when you are under prolonged stress. Your body was designed to have bursts of stress, not chronic stress. And stress is either from real threats or threats that are only in our mind. Chronic stress overworks your Adrenal gland and the hormone depletion can result in fatigue, insomnia, an increase in aches and pains, and a multitude of other symptoms.
It is important that you reduce the mental and physical stress that your body and mind are subjected to. This is not something anti-anxiety pills or alcohol should be relied upon to do. That type of treatment is not the answer.
There are a lot of things that you can do to naturally reduce the stress on your adrenal glands:
1. Turn off the news. You can stay aware of what is going on in the world without being bombarded with the excess negativity that is pervasive in the news. Hearing and seeing this negativity is perceived as a real threat by our mind and causes a physical stress reaction. You may love the news, but it does not live your body.
2. Unplug from your phone and computer daily. Turn these off each night at a set time and also set aside a no electronics time during the daytime on a weekly or daily basis. When your phone needs to be on, have the alerts turned off so that you are not hearing every text or e mail that comes in. Check your phone on your own schedule. You may enjoy the electronics in your life but they do cause a mental stress and adversely affect the hormones in your body. The harder you find to turn off your electronics, the more important it is for you to do this.
3. Breathe deeply with your diaphragm. People often breathe shallow without realizing it and this causes a stress on your system. Practice taking slow deep breaths. Whenever you feel stressed, stop and pay attention to your breathing. By slowing down and breathing deeper, it will reduce the stress response.
4. Get your hormones properly evaluated and replaced with bio-identical hormones. Our hormones get depleted by chemicals in our environment as well as the stress that we live in. When your hormonal deficiencies are replaced, this allows your adrenal glands to rest and recover.
5. Keep a gratitude journal and write in it daily. Write down three things that you are grateful for. Do this no matter how small the items seem. This helps to train your brain to be calm and keeps it from jumping to fight/flight on a whim.
Your mind and body are the most precious commodity that you possess. Taking time out to care for you needs to be a top priority. Your adrenal glands are critical to your body functioning properly. These glands go into high gear when there is a real or imagined threat to you. To minimize this, pay attention to the things you watch, read, say, and surround yourself with. Breathe properly and allow your mind and body to have time to completely unplug. I have found that when people take this advice seriously, they get the maximum benefits from their Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy.
Dr. Laurie Blanscet is an Integrative Medicine Doctor specializing in Bio-identical hormones and overall preventive care.
She also offers BioEnergy testing, Ozone, Prolozone, Glutathione, Myers cocktails, Chelation