Why am I always so tired?
Stress and Fatigue
What is Stress?
Stress is defined as any external or internal condition that causes the body to react. As a doctor, it feels like such an overused word. It seems as though everything can be blamed on stress, and for many years I felt like that was a “cop out” diagnosis. It’s easy to say something is stress related when you can’t come up with a better reason. However, if we examine what stress really is, and what happens in the body as a result of it, then perhaps most of our complaints really should be based on stress.
How Do I Know If I’m Over-Stressed?
Our lifestyle today contributes deeply to the health issues so prevalent in our society. We are constantly bombarded with adrenal stressors; from driving in traffic, to trying to manage a budget in difficult economic times, raising children (who are also affected by sugars and hormones in their diets and are more difficult to manage) and too much to do with too little time.
Our ancestors, as recently as our grandparent’s time, led a very different and much slower lifestyle than most of us currently experience.
This rapid change in the body’s need for cortisol and adrenaline in only two generations time has taken its toll on our health.
Our bodies are designed for a 12 hour cycle of activity followed by 12 hours of night time repair and maintenance. They are designed to produce cortisol and adrenaline in necessary moments of fight or flight, then to come back to homeostasis, or neutral, in between those moments.
We no longer do that. We live from situation to situation of fight or flight. And even if you feel as though you go through your day with little fear or anxiety, it just means that your body is secreting enough cortisol to handle the situation and that you have temporarily adapted well. Even in a relaxed state, just driving a car can bring on enough of a stress reaction in the body to produce cortisol and adrenaline.
Add to that, constantly we have thoughts in our subconscious state about things we still need to get done, things we did in the past, things we didn’t do and should have, etc etc etc. Most of us go through life living in a state of worry about the future or guilt or regret about the past. It is only in the present moment that we have the ability to be stress free. When was the last time you felt that way?
So What Happens When I Feel Constantly Stressed?
Chronic, excessive stress (emotional or physical) can cause the adrenal glands to struggle to produce adequate cortisol.
Low cortisol levels can lead to low blood glucose (hypoglycemia), excessive fatigue, and increased susceptibility to infection.
Constant emotional, physical or mental stress, excessive intake of alcohol (more than one glass of wine per day), and even minor amounts of sugars and refined carbohydrates can lead to insulin resistance, which in turn can increase levels of cortisol.
This can create symptoms of high blood pressure, joint pain throughout the body, insomnia, restless legs, aging rapidly, loss of muscle tone, and weight gain through the middle of the body.
Testing for Stress
The best way to check your stress levels is by testing your Cortisol production from your adrenal glands. This is best done using saliva or urine in several tests throughout the day.
Cortisol should be highest first thing in the morning, to combat the stress of overnight fasting and to get the body ready for the day’s activities. It should gradually decline throughout the day, being lowest at bedtime and through the early night. Its gradual rise in the early pre-dawn hours is what naturally wakes you up in the morning.
Any disruption in this natural curve can cause health issues. Get checked now to find out the stress impact on your life.
The Art of Healing
Unless you’ve been in a traumatic accident that continues to put stresses on your body, most of the things we consider to be “stress” are made up in our minds.
Start to recognize the stories you tell yourself versus the reality in front of you. Those stories come from memories, your subconcious, and places we don’t know much about. Don’t let a made-up story in your mind rule your life.
Learn to recognize the difference, and learn to be present in this moment of Truth.
The Science of Healing
Find and support your body to correct underlying causes of “faux” stresses such as
Gut microbiome issues cause the body to be low in serotonin, causing feelings of low mood, depression and anxiety
Adrenal imbalance is definitive for causing anxiety and panic attacks (very successful responses to natural care).
Diet is a huge stressor – too much sugar or alcohol? Not enough vegetables? Are you modeling stress for your children?