Exhausted and irritable but otherwise healthy? It could be your adrenal glands. "They pump out cortisol and adrenaline hormones which create our 'fight or flight' response to stress," says Charlotte Watts, author of The De-Stress Effect. When unbalanced, cortisol levels can cause low blood pressure, insomnia, poor stamina, anxiety and depression - all symptoms of adrenal fatigue, which experts are calling the stress condition of our generation. "We're over-reaching," explains naturopath Louise Westra. "Sometimes, our adrenals struggle to keep up, which can lead to that 'burnt-out' feeling." Here's five ways keep yours on track:
1. Slow down your workouts
Swap rigorous exercise for something more chilled out. "Low-intensity workouts like walking, yoga or Pilates slows the release of stress hormones," explains Nigma Talib, a naturopathic doctor. Try swapping the treadmill for free weights, as this will build lean muscle mass (which increases your energy), without activating your cardiovascular system (which taxes adrenals).
2. Do this before bed
Ease any tension in your body with Progressive Muscle Relaxation. "This is a two-step process where you tense each muscle group from head to toe for five seconds, starting with your hand, arm, shoulders and so on - then release," says Westra. "Rest for 15 seconds before moving on to the next muscle group. This should put your body into a state of deep relaxation."
3. Rethink your vitamins
"When we're stressed, our adrenal glands use up B vitamins, which processes the energy we get from food," says Talib. "Look for vitamin B1 (which optimises brain function) and B5 (necessary for adrenal function)." Add a magnesium supplement (to provide energy to the adrenal glands). "This combination will calm your nervous system and rebalance spiking stress hormones." Try Nature's Own Vitamin B Complex Plus which contains magnesium (£11.40 ).
4. Eat smart
"Swap carb-loaded snacks and refined sugars like popcorn, fruit juice, biscuits and dried fruit (which will spike blood sugar levels) for protein and fat-packed nut butters. Combine with healthy carbs like vegetable sticks, seeded rye bread or whole fruits, especially low-sugar fruits such as nectarines, berries and pears," says nutritionist Libby Limon.
5. Switch off
"Every time our phones ping with a new message or alert, especially at night, we get a big hit of dopamine (the pleasure chemical) that stimulates our brain and leads to a restless night's sleep," says Westra. "Spend an hour winding down before bed without any screens, and try and keep digital devices out of the bedroom."
THINK YOU HAVE ADRENAL FATIGUE?
"If you're not feeling 100%, it would be sensible in the first instance to exclude certain causes which you might be able to rectify," says GP Katherine Tully. "This might be lack of sleep, an imbalanced or poor diet, excess caffeine or alcohol and not enough exercise. Remember, working out when you feel tired can actually boost energy and improve the quality of your sleep. If fatigue persists, it might be worth consulting your doctor to discuss other causes and treatment options."
<p class="NoParagraphStyle">By Jessica Harris