Recovering from adrenal depletion

I’m in bed, mid-afternoon on a Wednesday, listening to the sound of rain on my metal trailer and the rumble of thunder in the background.

When you live in central Texas, and you get several days of thunderstorms and drenching rains in the middle of July, you count your blessings. Last summer was the worst drought on record. There were cracks in the ground an inch across and as deep as two feet where I live. Those cracks began to reappear after a luscious wet spring turned until a dry summer.

Until this week. The rain sounds and feels like a blessing. Even the hot humidity, in between rains, is welcome. It’s been so long since we’ve had it.

I went out earlier today to meet with a recruiter about a job. Yes, I’m looking for a technical writing/editing contract job. I’ve been heavily recruited for multiple jobs in the past week. I have some financial goals that I’d like to achieve before I’ll be ready to settle into a full-time bodywork and changework practice. Need a newer car, insulation and a deck for my trailer, a much desired trip to Peru in February, and some advanced NLP training next summer. I cannot do all that on massage wages.

I feel a bit incongruent about it. I’d love to just do bodywork and change work full time now (plus more writing), but I’m too broke. So, sigh, hi ho. Even though corporate work takes a toll on my health, I was able to earn and save a nice chunk of change that I’ve been living on since that last job ended nearly two months ago.

I’m still recovering from adrenal depletion (according to my acupuncturist, who told me to take OTC rhodiola and eleuthero) from shocks and stress earlier this year, and I am really feeling it today. Naps are good! Avoiding stress is good. So is really cherishing myself and only hanging out with people who are nurturing and fun to be around and trustworthy.

Laughter is good.

In order to work in the corporate world and stay as healthy as I can, I need to:

  • get a massage twice a week
  • get acupuncture twice a month
  • do yoga daily
  • eat impeccably healthily
  • work from home as much as possible
  • work standing up as much as possible
  • take frequent breaks to move my body
  • dance and shake it out every day
  • meditate

I’m feeling grateful for this downtime in between jobs to start my private massage practice, to experience doors opening (chair massage, anyone? stretching, trigger points? marketing?).

Meanwhile, I’m learning about the mechanics of trauma/chronic stress recovery first hand, and that will be quite useful in my own life and in my healing practice.

Wish me well!

Getting healthy: adaptogens, chocolate berry and green smoothies, and sprouted lentil salad

My acupuncturist, who is consistently the healthiest, most vibrant person I know, told me at my last visit that I have a bit of adrenal depletion from the stresses of my 10-week contract editing job in a big technology company, now over. It was a long commute until everything was finally aligned for me to work from home the last two weeks.

When my contract ended, I had plans to swim, hike, and get outdoors, but my energy was low. All I wanted to do was veg out at home.

She told me to take over-the-counter rhodiola (for the endocrine system) and eleuthero (also known as Siberian ginseng). Both are adaptogens, meaning they are metabolic regulators that increase the ability to adapt to environmental factors both physiological and psychological, and avoid damage from such.

That means they help you recover from stress and alleviate its adverse effects.

After a week, I feel better. Yesterday I had a big surge of energy and walked 3.5 miles and kayaked for an hour. Today is a slow day. Tomorrow, I want to do some hiking and swimming. I want my full energy and vibrancy back!

She shared her diet with me:

  • For breakfast, a chocolate berry smoothie made with raw cacao, organic berries, chia and flax seeds soaked in filtered water for a couple of hours, coconut/almond milk, and whatever other kinds of goodies you want to add. I add pomegranate molasses, goji berries, coconut water or fresh grapefruit juice, maca powder, hemp seeds, and peeled ginger. Add other fruit if you like, but berries are awesome for brain health and not that laden with fructose. Filling up my blender yields about 3 servings, and I will sip on one all morning.
  • For lunch, a green smoothie made with something picked fresh from the garden (kale or chard), more soaked chia and flax seeds, and garlic. I add coconut water or grapefruit juice, hemp seeds, maca powder, turmeric, spirulina, ginger. I also added some packaged fresh spinach and lettuce and a leaf of Romaine, plus celery—what I had in the fridge. I will sip on one all afternoon.
  • She eats one regular meal a day, at dinner.
  • She eats some seaweed every day, like a sheet of nori that you’d use for sushi.
  • She sprouts lentils and finds ways to include them in her diet. I’ve been sprouting red lentils, which are so tiny, they soften and sprout quickly. Sprouting amplifies the nutrients in the lentils as it turns a dormant seed into a living plant.  The legumes become much easier to digest, and more minerals and enzymes become available. By eating them raw, you preserve the enzymes.

Here is my recipe for sprouted lentil salad:

  • Soak red lentils overnight in plenty of filtered water since they triple in size. Drain, rinse, and cover jar with a cloth. Rinse and drain every eight hours. You can use them as soon as they soften—they start releasing their goodness from soaking even before they sprout, or you can wait until they develop little sprouts in a day or two.
  • Give them a final rinse and put in a bowl. Refrigerate what you don’t use—they’ll last up to two weeks.
  • Add some chopped cucumber.
  • Add some chopped red onion.
  • Add 1 tsp of olive oil and 2-3 tsp. of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice, to taste.
  • Add a light sprinkling of good salt to taste and mix well.

sprouted lentil saladYou can tell I’m making this up as I go along, can’t you? : )

Try adding avocado, celery, tomato, green pepper, herbs, green onion, cabbage, beet, greens, carrot, apple, green (brown) lentils—your only limit is your sense of adventure!

Recovering from a virus, recovering from adrenal exhaustion

I awoke sick Saturday morning with a sore throat. I thought maybe it was strep throat. Drank lemon echinacea Throat Coat tea, sprayed a throat numbing liquid, and took two Alleves. Ate breakfast.

As the day progressed, I began to feel achy and chilled. Not much nasal congestion, and my throat became less sore, so it was probably not a cold. Pretty sure this was some type of influenza. The first battle of an invader with the immune system takes place in the tonsils, right? They fought hard, thank you very much, but were overpowered by a virus.

Sigh. Who knows how long this will last?

I did whatever I could think of to boost my immune system. I drank Tulsi tea, then made tea from fresh ginger steeped in hot filtered water and drank that. I ate a clove of garlic. (Slice thinly and swallow quickly, don’t chew.)

I did EFT three times. I did the thymus thump several times. I took three long naps. I had no appetite at all but stayed hydrated with the teas and water.

I finally remembered I owned a thermometer and took my temperature Saturday night. It was 102.2 degrees F.

That evening was the worst of it. I couldn’t lie still. Kept needing to flex and point my feet and circle my ankles, changing position often. Weird, huh? All I can figure out is that these movements were activating meridians (several of which begin or end at the feet) and moving lymph.

(Lymph is a fluid that contains infection-fighting white blood cells. The lymphatic system clears the toxins, waste, and other stuff  your body no longer needs. It’s a key part of the body’s immune system. Since the lymphatic system doesn’t have a pump, it works better when you take measures to help it circulate: by moving the body, dry-brushing, and lymphatic drainage, a type of light massage.)

I’ve learned in my studies of trauma recovery to allow the body to move as it needs to, unless it’s dangerous. So on with the foot movements.

Sunday morning I felt a bit better. Took my temperature twice that day, 99 in a.m., 100 in p.m. Aches and chills were gone, and my appetite came back somewhat later in the day, but my energy was low. I decided to stay home yesterday (Monday), believing that resting would speed my full recovery.

It seems I had a mini-virus, a two-day bout of illness. I have no idea if what I did shortened the duration of it, or if it would have been a 48-hour bug no matter what. You’d need a scientific experiment with a control group to determine that, and there could still be variables unaccounted for.

Still, it just feels better to know that I did what I could to strengthen my immune system.

Today (Tuesday) my temperature was normal. I went out and did a few things that couldn’t be postponed (I’m moving on Friday, after all), but I still feel weak and not quite back to myself.  I’m accustomed to feeling well and having a nice level of energy.

I have so much to do this week, it’s imperative that I recover quickly. I need to clean out my shed, get boxes, pack, and work three days this week. I need to get well. I made an acupuncture appointment because it helps.


Postscript, July 9, 2012. Hindsight is such a great teacher, bringing the gifts of perspective and insight.

When I look back on the time when I originally wrote this post a year and a half ago, I can see that I was stressed. I was selling my house, moving, and starting a new contract job. That’s when I got sick.

Stress weakens the immune system. If it goes on too long, you can suffer from adrenal depletion or exhaustion.

That happened to me this spring. I had just just studied for and passed the national certification exam for massage and bodywork, not exercising or resting enough, and I was stressing about money and work. A friend suddenly showed distinct signs of mental illness, which freaked me out. I experienced a fight-or-flight reaction, which means the adrenals are producing copious amounts of stress hormones that keep the sympathetic nervous system dominant.

I took different contract job at a technology company, working in a group that was experiencing a lot of chaos, with an hour-long commute. Much more stress and misery.

No wonder, when I saw my acupuncturist after the job ended, she told me I was suffering from adrenal exhaustion.

She advised me to take over-the-counter high quality rhodiola and eleuthero as directed on the bottles to recover from the adrenal exhaustion. I’ve been doing that for about a month now, and I feel much better. (These are also listed on my Products I Recommend page.)

As a massage therapist, I recommend frequent massage to help the body release stress and tension. A relaxing massage helps the nervous system begin to regulate itself again instead of being stuck in sympathetic mode, which helps you recover from stress more quickly and experience the deep relaxation (and strong immune system, better digestion, better sleep, stronger sex drive, more playful attitude) that occur when the parasympathetic nervous system comes back online. I also recommend Epsom salt baths for stress relief.

Related: See my post about preventing illness and recovering quickly.