The alarm goes off and you hit it not once, not twice, but possibly three times as though you were playing a game of whack a mole.
You reluctantly stumble out of bed, and by now you’ve got to hustle (what else is new?) and you’re scrambling to get out the door. No time for food but maybe you’ll have enough time to take your coffee to go, otherwise you’ll just go to Starbucks to be greeted by another obnoxious barista.
Lately, as much as you try to breathe through the occasional yoga class, you find you’re irritated and absolutely spent.
I mean there is absolutely NO reason to put dishes away that aggressively. You’re going to break something.
Where the hell are my keys again?
I have zero motivation to workout.
So is the issue with your adrenal glands? Partly yes. But whatever you do, do not discount the importance of your nervous system. And it’s why I decided to create this video to talk about:
Adrenal gland problems and the nervous system: What you need to know.
Alright so let’s dive in.
What the adrenal glands are.
If you’re not already familiar with them, the adrenal glands are glands which sit on top of your kidneys and secrete a steroid hormone by the name of cortisol, which is released in response to stress. Cortisol isn’t a bad thing, because it helps us get away from the bear that’s chasing us during times of danger. However, in most people cortisol levels are all out of whack.
In some they’re elevated, but for others they’re low because the glands in the brain believe that the body already has enough circulating cortisol (some of which can even be secreted from your fat tissue!), so it tells the adrenal glands to stop pumping out more. This is when we bottom out energy-wise and everything is a complete struggle – right down to the things that used to once bring us joy.
An explanation about the autonomic nervous system and its connection with the adrenals
But before all of those issues noted above, we have the autonomic nervous system composed of the sympathetic nervous system (i.e. fight-or-flight response) and the parasympathetic nervous system (i.e. rest-and-digest system).
Ultimately we want to be in the parasympathetic nervous system because we’re able to rest, digest and our reproductive system actually works (ladies trying to conceive, listen up!). This part of the autonomic nervous system allows our body to function because the attention hasn’t been diverted elsewhere to address a form of stress or danger as in the sympathetic nervous system. But when our fight-or-flight response of the sympathetic nervous system is activated, the adrenal medulla (the inner part of the adrenal glands) activates thus secreting cortisol.
So in the most simplistic way that I can explain this: You need to love up on that nervous system.
Healing is more than just about food and supplements.
And frankly most women that I see who work with me privately or through my hormone membership program, Sexy Lady Balls all are in the fight-or-flight response and many of them are perpetually in a reactive state (I get it, I was once there too). But it’s the reason why supplements and even diet alone won’t heal you.
Mindset work and lifestyle guidelines are crucial, and that also means taking accountability for yo’ damn self versus blaming the world or cursing your body (side note: the problem isn’t your body or your cycles, it’s just revealing the problem).
Problem is, I have women writing to me in droves telling me their life story then ending it off with, “So what supplement can I take?”…If only it were that simple.
The second I begin to work with women who are ready to do the work, they’re shocked by just how much their mindset and lifestyle choices were making them sick. Self-care isn’t just about mani/pedi’s (although I really dig them, I really do!), but more so about self-parenting. And let’s face it, you give and nurture everyone else around you, but it’s about time you stop pulling the focus away from yourself. And please don’t tell me you don’t have time because, frankly, I won’t buy it.
We’re all busy and you make time, spend money, and talk about what you value the most. Period.
How to activate the parasympathic nervous system.
Okay so how do we get into that parasympathetic, rest-and-digest state?
First off, we need to activate my favourite nerve – the vagus nerve. In this video I give a super simplistic viewpoint about it (I only have about 5 minutes folks!), so I thought I would embellish a bit more about it here.
This 10th cranial nerve runs from your brain to your gut and when it’s activated you not only activate the parasympathetic nervous system, but you also promote better digestion and even help to heal a leaky gut. This is a big deal if you’re struggling with hormonal issues because vital nutrients needed for hormonal balance aren’t absorbed when they pass through holes in the small intestine (aka your leaky gut). Plus, as mentioned previously, if we’re not activating the parasympathetic nervous system, then our reproductive capabilities become impaired.
So how do we activate it?
- Gargling. The vagus nerve activates the muscles in the back of your throat that allow you to gargle. So I suggest women to gargle when they’re done brushing their teeth for anywhere between 30 seconds to one minute.
- Zinc. If you’re on the birth control pill, drink coffee or binge drink, you are very likely to be deficient in zinc and you need zinc for vagal stimulation. Deficiency symptoms include: poor neurological function, weakened immunity, allergies, fatigue, thinning hair and even acne. But before you go running out to buy zinc, test your zinc first with a Liquid Zinc Assay test. Take one tablespoon and swoosh it in your mouth for a minute then swallow. If it tastes like water versus having a taste that is bitter or metallic-y, then you’re likely deficient. I would suggest taking 50mg of zinc picolinate every day at breakfast and keep retesting once a week. Zinc should not be taken long-term or you can offset your copper balance which can be equally dangerous.
- Laughter! Laughter really is medicine, especially deep belly laughs.
- Breathe deeply. In Chinese Medical school we were always taught to breathe from three fingers below our navel from an area in Japanese Medicine called, the hara. By doing so, we activate the vagus nerve.
- Cold water therapy. This is something I didn’t mention in the video but it’s also highly effective. Does it suck? YES, but it does the trick. It’s why at the end of my shower I turn off all the hot water, scream to the high hills with profanity as I let the cold water cover me for a couple minutes (which is currently the maximum time I can take). If you want to start slowly, dunk your face in a bowl of ice cold water.
- Downward dogs and inversions. These upside down positions help to stimulate the vagus nerve. It’s more reason why I highly suggest that women rotate yoga with their other high intensity activity.
Supplement-wise, if you want to love up on your nervous system, then take two gel caps at breakfast and at dinner of sunflower lecithin. If you’re taking the powder (which you should store in your fridge by the way), you’ll want to take 1 tbsp daily in tepid water, smoothies or salad dressings. This helps to coat a fried nervous system, and for those of you who are one of the 90 million Americans who suffer from non-alcohol fatty liver disease, lecithin is perfect for you because it helps the body to emulsify fats!
Lastly, remember, you cannot heal the nervous system if your sleep hygiene sucks so get off your phone and stop scrolling through Instagram and Facebook at all hours of the night. I actually call out Ballers (members in Sexy Lady Balls) when I wake up to see what time they’ve been posting! Self-care isn’t on Facebook, nor is it in another episode of This is Us (which is a great show by the way).
Alright you, if you love this post, then make sure to share it and download my free Adrenal & Thyroid Guide below!