Are you tired of being tired? Does your body need sleep, but your mind won’t rest? When you are tired, no one has much or any libido. In a culture that demands increased productivity, it is common for us to over extend our schedule between career, family and social events. It is no wonder that so many of us are faced with a shortage in energy. Sweets or that extra cup of coffee may help you get through your day, but it isn’t going to help your libido. While the ovaries and testes are the primary players for sex hormones and libido, the adrenal glands are the back up players with sex hormones precursors DHEA pregnenolone and androstenedione. Their role especially increases as we age when our ovary and teste function decreases. DHEA helps our body cope with cortisol being produced during states of stress. When testing adrenal function, DHEA is the first adrenal hormone levels we see drop in a process we call adrenal fatigue.
The most important factor in preserving your adrenals is learning how to relax! It may not be feasible for you to decrease your work load so despite a busy schedule we need to learn how to bring the body from a state of fight or flight to relaxation and recuperation.
To support this process beyond our state of mind, herbal adrenal adaptogens have been used in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medication for centuries. These herbs are specifically used to regulate our bodies’ physical response to stress and provide balancing or uplifting mental support depending on the adaptogen. In Ayurveda and Unani, a herbal adaptogen called Ashwagandha was traditionally used as an aphrodisiac! We commonly use this herb in clients who are overactive but fatigued, experiencing nervous exhaustion from long term stress. We also use it to support the immune system and as an anti-inflammatory.
Here are five simple lifestyle tips toward keeping your stress levels in check!
- Rise restfully: When you wake in the morning, open the curtains to let in the natural daylight. Challenge yourself to set your phone on airplane mode from the time you go to bed, until after your morning routine is complete.
- Balance your blood sugars: Starting your day off with a breakfast complete with protein and healthy fat is a must. This will help prevent an insulin spike followed by a glucose crash leading to fatigue, irritability and sugar cravings. Continue sugar balance throughout the day by timely spacing meals and snacks, each with protein and healthy fats.
- Get moving: Are you sitting at a desk for eight hours a day? It’s time to get moving. You shouldn’t go longer than one hour without getting up from your seat for a light stretch, or walk. If you have chronic stress, exercise should be restorative rather than strenuous.
- Sleep: Your body needs time to restore every night. Make sure you are in bed 8-9 hours before the time your alarm is set for the following morning, no excuses! You may want listen to a guided meditation, or do some pleasure reading to help you unwind from the day.
- Daily guided meditation: You don’t need more than a few minutes for a quick mental reset with one of the many guided meditation apps available. Two popular apps are Headspace and Calm which allow you to choose the meditation length of time. Aim for at least one a day!
If you are concerned stress is affecting your life, Vitalia offers comprehensive adrenal, thyroid and sex hormone testing to accurately assess the physiological affects it may be having.
Elizabeth Miller, ND