When someone asks, “How are you?”, how do you respond? Do you tell them you’re doing great, even though you’re really exhausted inside?
Feeling tired or run-down from time to time is a normal part of modern life. But feeling tired all the time – every day, all day – is not so normal. In fact, it can severely impact on your physical and mental health. It’s time to think about what might be making you so tired.
One of the most common causes of tiredness and adrenal fatigue is STRESS.
Stress is how you react to situations that you perceive to be threatening or dangerous. When your brain senses this kind of situation, it sets off a chain of chemical reactions that protect your body from harm; this is called the stress response, or more commonly ‘fight or flight’.
Your heart rate increases; your breathing quickens; your blood pressure rises; your muscles become tense. Other systems that are not immediately needed, such as digestion and immunity, slow down. Your body is preparing itself to run away from the threat.
What Is Chronic Stress?
Unlike acute stress, chronic stress can go on for weeks, months or even years. It can feel like unrelenting pressure that consumes your mind, body and soul. It might be caused by your job, your relationship, your finances, or any number of different factors. Long term, this type of stress can lead to wear and tear on the body.
Over time, the endocrine system response to chronic stress results in a high level of hormones circulating in the bloodstream. The effects of this include high blood pressure, muscle tissue damage, suppression of the immune system, inhibited growth and long-term impact on mental health. Heart disease, high cholesterol, type II diabetes, and depression have all been linked to chronic stress.
One of the most prominent symptoms of chronic stress is constant fatigue. If you’re one of those people who is always tired, ask yourself now: are you facing chronic stress?
Symptoms Of Stress-Related Tiredness
While feeling tired or sleepy is the main symptom of chronic stress, it is also associated with several other symptoms, including:
- Muscle soreness or weakness
- Headaches or migraines
- Feeling snappy, irritable or moody
- Light-headedness, blurred vision or dizziness
- Poor appetite
- Poor memory
- Short attention span or inability to concentrate
- Low mood or feelings of hopelessness
- Lack of motivation
Why Chronic Stress Makes You Tired
When the stress response continues over a long period of time, it can affect you in different ways:
Stress causes adrenaline to start pumping in order to prepare your body for “fight or flight.” The adrenal glands flood your body with energy so that, when the time comes, you’ll be able to run away from the tiger chasing you. But when nothing happens – as is the case with most modern-day stress – that adrenaline runs out, causing you to crash.
It’s similar to drinking a pot of coffee in a short space of time: after the initial energy burst, you suddenly feel severely fatigued.
The Muscle Strain
Stress causes your muscles to tense up, ready to leap into action. The body uses a lot of energy to keep muscles in that tense state and, if they stay that way for hours on end, they’re going to get tired. You’ll find your whole body feels drained, and your muscles seem to ache and burn all over.
The Mental Fatigue
As well as straining your body physically, stress puts strain on your brain, too. When stressed, your brain is highly alert and trying to process all those thoughts and messages. All that activity is just as draining as physical exertion – so it’s no wonder that you feel mentally exhausted.
The Coping Mechanism
Once the body has been running at top speed for a while, it realizes that the only way it’ll get any rest is to MAKE you feel tired. After all, it’s when you’re tired that you actually slow down. Tiredness forces you to look for ways to rest, which makes it a potential coping mechanism that the body will turn to next time it’s stressed.
Dealing With Chronic Stress
If you can identify with the above symptoms as the causes of your tiredness, it’s time to take action.
Think carefully about what is causing your stress: work, family, health, a certain person or situation? In some cases, you won’t be able to avoid the ‘stressor’ entirely. What matters is taking steps to minimize the impact it has on your life. This is something you can discuss with a friend, counselor, or medical professional. You can also find lots of guidance in the program that Dr Wood and I created – The Adrenal Fatigue Solution.
Remember, chronic stress won’t go away by itself – it needs to be addressed by YOU.