Adrenal fatigue is a very real phenomenon that’s becoming increasingly common in our fast-paced stressful world. What is adrenal fatigue, what are the symptoms and how can you fix and manage it? We recruited the help of resident nutritionist Evian Rodriguez to bring you this primer on what adrenal fatigue is, how to know if you have it – and what to do about it.

What is Adrenal Fatigue?

Your body has two mechanisms to deal with stress. For long-term/ongoing stresses (like an unstable relationship or chronic work stress), our bodies respond with a hormone called cortisol. For short-term/acute stress (like a big deadline, sudden conflict or threat to your physical safety), our body’s response is adrenaline.

Adrenal fatigue is caused by frequent adrenaline responses to acute stress. Too many ‘fight or flight’ responses without adequate time to recover lead to exhaustion of the glands and systems, which is what ‘adrenal fatigue’ refers to.

Modern life includes many more stressors than people once had, which is why we’re seeing an increase in this phenomenon.

What are the Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue?

Symptoms of adrenal fatigue include:

  • Low energy
  • An insatiable craving for salt
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Sensitivity to bright lights
  • Poor stress/confrontation management
  • Poor digestion

In turn, these symptoms will effect how you feel AND perform, which is why adrenal fatigue is a problem. (We have found that adrenal fatigue is often a factor for people who have trouble staying ‘on the wagon’ fitness-wise.)

How to Fix and Manage Adrenal Fatigue

If you think you might have adrenal fatigue, it’s wise to speak to a healthcare practitioner about it for some customized advice. In the meantime, here are three things that will almost certainly help:

1. Learn to Manage Stress

Obviously, the best thing is to eliminate your stressors altogether but, if you can’t do that, a simple thing you can start doing right away is conscious deep breathing, which can calm down your endocrine system and trigger the release of ‘good’ hormones like serotonin.

2. Stay Hydrated

Increase your consumption of water while decreasing your consumption of coffee. Believe it or not, dehydration is a stressor for your body. Short-term dehydration will cause the adrenal glands to release adrenaline to cope and long-term dehydration can lead to excess cortisol.

3. Get Moving

We’re not talking about strenuous exercise (just yet!). Instead, focus on gentle fluid movements that will unwind the body and release trapped energy and tension. Yoga, tai chi, and even walking are perfect places to start.

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A Nielsen Fitness trainer will help you to manage your stress and exercise safely.

Manage Your Stress

If you have any questions about adrenal fatigue – or want more tips for how to manage yours, a Nielsen Fitness personal trainer can help. We offer practical tips and help based on each client’s needs and goals. Click here to claim your first free workout and assessment today.

Updated on January 6, 2023.