Life is hectic nowadays; we're likely "on" 24/7 when it comes to working and trying to cope with the demands of our personal lives. This, alongside general hectic schedules, can all attribute to us feeling rundown. But at what point does tiredness become something more than a feeling we can shake off after a good night's sleep?
If you're constantly feeling stressed, overtired or run down, you could be suffering from what's known as 'Adrenal Fatigue,' a common source of extreme tiredness. If you have fatigue along with other symptoms such as difficulty concentrating, insomnia, inability to lose weight, feeling anxious, allergies, or brain fog, Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS) may be at the root of the problem. When the adrenals are constantly working overtime due to stress, they become so over-taxed, hence the body begins to shut down. AFS isn't hugely well-known and it also isn't yet recognised as an official medical condition, but the term has been cropping up more and more in the world of wellness.
Related: A sleep consultant shares 13 tips for a good night's sleep
Where does the term originate from?
The adrenals are two small glands that sit on top of the kidneys (around the size of a walnut) and affect virtually every system in our body. They aid our bodies in responding to stress, maintaining energy, regulating the immune system and our heart rate as well as maintaining levels of minerals and keeping blood sugar, blood pressure and fluid levels within a healthy range.
How do I know if I have it?
The classic symptoms are quite long-ranging but generally encompass are tiredness, low energy, cravings, insomnia, irritability, anxiety and poor concentration and memory skills. Of course, any of the above symptoms could be linked to other causes, so it's important to visit a GP, rather than self-diagnose.
How can I combat it?
Lifestyle changes can vastly improve symptoms, including diet, exercise and relaxation.
Eating regular meals throughout the day will stop your blood sugar and hormones from fluctuating too much. Many people rely on caffeine to keep going, but overall this leads to a greater drop in energy. Vitamins B and C and omega-3 fish oils all support the adrenal glands so eating more foods rich in these also helps.
Exercising is also a good idea, but taking at a slow pace is recommended so as to avoid putting more strain on the adrenals. It's generally advised to do 15-30 minutes of gentle exercise a day in the form of walking (preferably outdoors rather than on a treadmill) or yoga and making time to relax is a great way to de-stress.
AFS is treatable and making these changes should see you start feeling more rested and energetic over time. However if you're not seeing a change or feel symptoms are getting progressively worse, as always, it's best to consult a professional.
Main photograph: Pexels
Related: Sleep, uncertainty and social media: Dr Doireann O'Leary explains how to reduce Coronavirus anxiety
Related: Sweet dreams: 10 products that will give you a better night's sleep
Related: A sleep consultant shares key steps towards building a good nights' sleep