Yesterday I read Dr Libby Weaver’s article of “Rushing Women’s Syndrome” in the Huffington Post UK. and shared it on Facebook. There were several women who commented on how they could relate to this, or, knew several other women who it related to. And so it reminded me of how there are just so many women out there who are on the go but are struggling with exhaustion and feeling unwell. Yet, these women do not know what to do about it, because the very nature of themselves that got them into that state, (the caring, nurturing woman with career drive and passion), is the very nature that stops them from stopping and taking care of themselves. And I don’t just mean an afternoon nap on Sunday. I mean really taking care of your emotional, physical and spiritual bodies. I mean making those life changes that are probably scary but you know deep in your gut that it’s what you need.
And I mean getting real about the fact that you are a woman not a man! (That whole feminist thing really didn’t serve us as well as we think!) Woman are different. We need different things. We like different things. We are wired differently. We operate very differently. Time to accept it, not fight it.
Reasons for my passion
There are two reasons I speak so passionately about this. First is that I see people all the time who are suffering from chronic physical injuries and pain, but the underlying issue is that they are adrenally exhausted. They have undergone so much stress either from work, from their injury, from relationships or a combination of everything, and their bodies have been in that constant “flight or fight” mode. Their adrenals have been pumping and pumping to create adrenal hormones, which is great when the tank is full. But over time, they run out of juice. And this juice is VITAL for function and ABSOLUTELY VITAL for healing. Cortisol is one of these main hormones and among it’s main functions are to regulate blood sugar levels, anti-inflammatory action, immune response and regulate mood and behaviour. Usually these people have seen multiple practitioners, sometimes had multiple surgeries and everyone has focused on the bit that hurts. Yet the bit that hurts cant heal because there is no healing juice!
The second reason is that I have been there. In that dark dingy hole where you just keep powering on no matter what, thinking you are saving the world and passionately following your life’s purpose. Yet you are deeply unhappy, you wake up feeling like absolute shit every day and then you just power on.....and on and on. You think that if you stop the world will fall apart. And if there is not that little bit of stress and rush you feel like something is wrong.
Well, that was how I used to feel. And, I ran a marathon in this state! (there really is some truth to that saying that long distance runners are running away from something! funny thing is......you can’t run away from yourself! Bugger!)
The way through
My way through all of this was to make some fairly dramatic changes to the way I was operating, and, as Dr Libby talks about in her article, I had to change the way I perceived myself. I no longer run that program that I am not enough......not smart enough, slim enough, rich enough, nice enough, blah blah blah.....the list is endless. Because in that state, you are ALWAYS on the go. I had to make some fundamental changes in respecting myself enough to see that the decisions I made by myself, for myself, were actually ok. No one else needed to approve. If I was the only weirdo ordering gluten free, msg free, organic full fat food, then I had to be ok with that. If I was the only one sitting on the beach meditating while everyone else was running, that was ok. If I worked 30 hours a week instead of 70, that was definitely ok!!! The changes in the way I was operating were all to support my adrenal system, providing time for rest and recovery and not being in a constant state of alert. Furthermore, these changes are for life. The more I take time to stop and listen to my body, the easier it is to know what I need.
What about you?
So, what can you do if you feel this relates to you? Firstly, don’t panic. It took a while for you to get in this state, so it will take some time to undo. Secondly, you are not alone and you don’t have to figure it all out on your own. There are some great resources out there and some great practitioners who can help and guide you. The one’s listed below are some of the practitioner who I use and refer to. Thirdly, I’ve put together a general list below to get you started, remembering that it is not just a physical problem with a physical solution. A wholistic approach is essential.
Body Intelligence - do some abdominal breathing. Here is a link to further info, but basically, you do not need to be technical about it in the beginning. Just breathe into your belly, as much as you can, as often as you can. This will aid in relaxing the body and activating the parasympathetic nervous system......that part of your nervous system that helps you to rest, digest and heal.
Movement Intelligence - is all about finding a balance. Most people either fall into the category of exercising too much or not exercising enough. Movement is great for your body in so many ways. Do it frequently and do something you enjoy. BUT, don’t push yourself to exhaustion all the time. Think about yin and yang. Do a bit of yang movement, like running, cycling, tennis, surfing, and then do a bit of yin movement, like stretching, walking, yoga, swim in the ocean. Balance it out over the week.
Nutritional Intelligence - make smart choices when it comes to your eating habits. Start to get less of the bad stuff in and more of the good stuff in. Try having less caffeine and less sugar in your diet to start with. The last thing a stressed out body needs is more stimulation and toxins!
Spiritual Intelligence - get a journal and write in it. It doesn’t need to document what you’ve done everyday, it is there for you to write your thoughts and feelings. To write about the things that go round and round in your head. It is just for you. No one else should read it unless you ask them to. It doesn’t even need to make sense. Writing therapy has been documented across many years as having multiple therapeutic effects in disease management and pain management.
WHAT ABOUT THE MEN!
And men! While the article listed above refers to women, this kind of adrenal fatigue does not just happen to women. Men also suffer from this, however, there are usually different driving factors and “causes” behind it.
This is a complex issue and this article only scrapes at the surface. So, please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like to know more of my experiences of things that worked for me (and things that didn’t). And, please dont give up if you have been on the merry go round with doctors and specialist and got no answers. This is not recognised in "main stream" medicine by all doctors. So they cannot help you with something they know nothing about!
References and resources used and highly recommended;
Dr Jane Chapman - Integrative Medicine Physician www.drjanechapman.com.au
Dr James L Wilson - “Adrenal Fatigue, The 21st Century Stress Syndrome” 2001. www.adrenalfatigue.org
Dr Libby Weaver - Nutritional Biochemist www.drlibby.com
Tracey Whitton - Restorative Yoga Practitioner www.stmt.com.au