Last week, I shared with you my journey to adrenal fatigue. Today I’m sharing my personal plan for adrenal fatigue recovery.
Adrenal fatigue has been like many things in my life: I have known that I needed to make a plan for recovery for a long time now, but it wasn’t until I crashed in January (after the flu!) that I had the initiative to actually do something about it.
A few months before my flu incident, I had another good friend–also a work-at-home mama–who crashed with adrenal fatigue. (In fact, she is the one who recommended the book The Adrenal Reset Diet.) I thought that was a wake-up call for me, but getting sick was the last straw to finally propel me to change.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been putting together an adrenal fatigue recovery plan for myself. This plan is simple and does not include anything especially scientific or medical (I am not a healthcare professional!), and the key ingredient to my plan is rest.
It’s a plan that anyone dealing with low energy or fatigue of any sort can begin to implement today!
My Plan for Adrenal Fatigue Recovery
1. I’m turning off my computer by 9:00 p.m.
While reading The Adrenal Reset Diet, I learned that the blue light from computer screens can alter your circadian rhythm and can actually cause insomnia!
I’ve always been a natural night owl. But for the past several years, especially, I’ve been accustomed to working on the computer at night, up until bedtime. In my mind, this was the right thing to do since it ensured I was spending most of my daylight hours, even as a work-at-home mom, with my children.
However, once I went to bed (usually around midnight), I noticed that I had a hard time falling and staying asleep.
In addition to turning the computer off by 9:00 p.m., I am also no longer using my Kindle Fire–which also uses a blue light–to read at night. For Valentine’s Day, my husband gave me a Kindle Paperwhite, which will satisfy my reading-before-bed needs without killing my sleep.
I’ve also installed the flux app on my laptop. This app regulates the color of the computer screen, making it darker (and harder to work on) at night. I’m looking for a similar app for my iPhone.
In addition to turning the computer off earlier than I’ve been doing at night, I’m also avoiding it first thing in the morning. According to Dr. Alan Christianson, the author of The Adrenal Reset Diet, TV and computer screens are not good in the early morning because they speed up brain waves.
2. I’m sticking to my office hours.
Most of the time I’m not even turning on my computer at night. Yes, there are instances when I do have to–like when I need to place a Vitacost order or use a meal planning service after the girls have gone to bed, but, as a general rule, especially when it comes to working, I’m keeping it shut.
Instead, I’m sticking to my office hours. For years, I completed my work-at-home mom job during nap times or at night.
This was a necessity at the time, and I do not regret it.
But working so many years at night has worn on my health.
Last semester, for the first time ever, I actually began to have “real” work hours.
My firstborn is now in kindergarten three days per week at a university model school (she is homeschooled the other two days). My two littles attend a church preschool two mornings per week while their big sister is at school. In addition, my husband, a high school Spanish teacher, is now home on Fridays. And sometimes, during really busy seasons, we have a mother’s helper come in for a few hours per week.
This affords me the equivalent to part-time hours to earn the income we need through my work-at-home mom jobs. It allows me to be present when I am home with the girls, and it gives me the time for adequate rest at night.
But realizing I actually have these office hours now has been a huge adjustment for me. My habit has been to continue to pull the computer out to keep working at night.
I’ve decided that has got to stop.
What I don’t get done during my office hours just doesn’t get done.
For my particular work, that might mean working with fewer sponsors and affiliates, writing fewer eBooks, and taking a bit longer to respond to emails, but I’m OK with that. My primary goal in this work-at-home mom gig is to make enough income that we don’t have to go back on government aid, and my passion is in writing and connecting with you all. The rest can all go on the back burner.
I know this is not possible or even ideal for all moms, but it is working for my family.
Not all of those struggling with adrenal fatigue even need office hours because not everyone works, but what might it be for you?
Do you need to cut back on your homeschool plans for the time being and just do the bare necessities? Perhaps you need to limit nighttime extracurriculars?
Evaluate your life and your particular situation and see what sticking to “office hours” means for you.
3. I’m doing something fun every day.
I love to read. I don’t get to read as much in this season of life as I would like, but reading a bit before bed has become part of my nighttime routine.
I’m sticking to print books (or my new Kindle Paperwhite!) to not strain my eyes, though!
For you, it might be a walk, sewing, crafting, baking, etc.
What is it that makes your soul come alive but you don’t usually make time for because of a busy schedule?
I’m learning that sticking to my office hours, closing the computer by 9:00 p.m. and going to bed earlier affords me the 15 to 30 minutes per day I need to unwind with a good book. This is relaxing and soul building.
(P.S. You can now follow me on Goodreads!)
4. I’m sticking to light exercise.
Back in the summer, I participated in an intense exercise program. There is a time and place and season for exercise programs like this, but from my recent research on adrenal fatigue, I have learned that super intense exercise programs can do more harm than good.
Adrenal fatigue is a result of your body being in a state of near constant stress, and that can be mental, emotional, or physical stress. The physical stress of these programs can actually cause someone with adrenal fatigue to hold onto weight!
“Prolonged and frequent high-intensity aerobic exercise will only make things worse. Anything above half your maximum effort will cause substantial elevations in cortisol levels. As a consequence, this will block fat loss, even though you might be burning more calories.” ~Dr. Alan Christianson, The Adrenal Reset Diet
As soon as the weather warms up, I also want to begin walking more regularly again. The author of The Adrenal Reset Diet points to the many benefits of light outdoor exercise, including the natural vitamin D and the sunlight balancing one’s circadian rhythm, aiding in sounder sleep at night.
Dr. Christianson also recommends avoiding prolonged bouts of being sedentary. Because I can tend to be an all-or-nothing person, I am going to have to be very intentional about balance in exercise over the next few months.
5. I’m going to bed by 10 p.m. at night and am sleeping for 9-10 hours per night.
Yes, you read that right! For now, I am not getting up at 5:30 a.m.
This might sound crazy for some, but this is actually a true challenge for me! Midnight has been my average bedtime for many years now (and I’ve often stayed up much later while working on big projects, and, of course, I’ve been in the constant cycle of night-waking babies and toddlers for the past 6 1/2 years as well).
But I’ve made it to bed by 10 p.m. for most of the past three weeks.
I can tell a world of difference when I go to bed at 10 p.m. as opposed to midnight! I am not falling asleep right away, but I usually do within thirty minutes or so.
For right now, I am letting myself naturally wake up without an alarm–until I feel I have healed from sleep deprivation. Dr. Christianson suggests allowing yourself to wake naturally instead of relying on an alarm clock:
“Loud noises trigger a startle response that wakes you up certainly, but they also set off your internal alarm, which makes the day’s stressors more intense.” ~Dr. Alan Christianson, The Adrenal Reset Diet
I’m finding that I naturally wake up between 7:30 and 8:00 a.m. when I go to bed around 10 p.m.
Because my girls have started sleeping in later themselves (hallelujah!), and because my oldest is only in school three mornings per week and the school doesn’t start until 9:00 a.m., I am able to do this. (I know this isn’t the case with everyone, so some people might have to go to bed even earlier!)
Eventually, I hope to start waking earlier again, but, for now, I do not feel guilty about the amount of time I am sleeping each night. It is definitely making my days better. I think I will be able to start waking up earlier within the next few weeks. Dr. Christianson suggests:
“Give yourself two weeks during which you make sleep a priority, and see how much better you can feel.” ~Dr. Alan Christianson, The Adrenal Reset Diet
Dr. Christianson actually suggests that those who are severely sleep deprived take a “sleepcation.” He recommends going somewhere for three days to sleep as much as possible. This is not feasible for everyone, but if you are taking a personal retreat anytime soon, working sleep into it might be a good idea!
6. I’m connecting with real-life community.
For the past two years, in particular, my online community has become crowded while my real-life community has been lacking. A few months back, I decided that had to change.
We recently began attending a different church than the one we had been members of for over five years. The church we are now attending (and will most likely join soon) is much closer to our home. But it wasn’t a move of convenience as much as a move to our own community.
Before, we were in a church family with members scattered all over a five-town suburban radius–and those in our town were in the minority. Now, we worship alongside those who live right down the street. We are looking forward to the community-building this will organically bring to our lives.
Real-life, face-t0-face community is a basic human need–especially for extroverts like me! Dr. Christianson even addresses this in his book:
“Humans are social animals; having no contact with others can be among the most traumatic experiences. Not only does isolation cause early death, but it also has been shown to lead to obesity.” ~Dr. Alan Christianson, The Adrenal Reset Diet
7. I’m tweaking my diet.
The Adrenal Reset Diet lays out an entire eating plan for how to heal your adrenals through food.
The basic premise is to start the day with protein and to ease into more healthy carbs with each meal, ending with the most carb-heavy meal of the day.
The protein will help wake you up, and the carbs will help prepare your body for sleep at night–when it’s supposed to be sleeping!
8. I’m exploring supplements.
I do not feel qualified to give you a detailed supplements plan. I’m actually still forming my plan as well. I’ll be seeing an integrative MD at the beginning of March, and I hope to discuss supplements further with her.
The Adrenal Reset Diet actually gives specific supplement recommendations for the various stages of adrenal fatigue–stressed, wired but tired, crashed, and thriving.
For now, in addition to my regular winter supplements regimen, I’m focusing on making sure I have adequate Vitamin D3 and magnesium, and I’m drinking lemon balm tea during the day and a chamomile blend before bed at night. I’m also taking 1,000 mg of Vitamin C per day, as this vitamin is essential for adrenal fatigue recovery.
Katie at Wellness Mama recently wrote a great post on natural sleep aids. One of her suggestions that I have tried is taking honey with a bit of salt before bed at night. In addition, I’m using some calming essential oils topically at night, and I sometimes take the Snooze Ezee tincture from Trilight Health.
I’ve found the following books helpful in my journey to adrenal fatigue recovery. Some of them are specifically about adrenal fatigue and others are just about slowing down and giving yourself time to breathe!
Have you ever dealt with adrenal fatigue? What are your suggestions for adrenal fatigue recovery?
Disclaimer: I am not a healthcare professional. I am just a mom who loves to research about health and wellness. The sources for this post are the books listed above, as well as adrenalfatigue.org. Please consult your trusted healthcare professional before making any decisions about your health!