The go-go-go, “hustle” culture has created a collective urge to grind and exert ourselves to our maximum capacity; to be more, do more, earn more, look better, be better, exercise daily, eat this way, work harder, stronger, faster…. gahhhh it’s exhausting even reading that list. Don’t get me wrong, working hard is important, but when we are continuously exposed to an overwhelming amount of external and internal factors daily, something’s got to give!
When your body has a niggle, do you listen in? Do you take note of what your body is trying to tell you? It is so common that it is not until we hit a big health hurdle (sickness, injury, dis-ease), that we take the time to stop, because we are forced. Sadly, it is even more common to hear that even when these health hurdles come around, people still “don’t have time to be sick”. Prior to that point in time, we haven’t actually taken a second to understand that our body has been trying to tell us something all along.
The little niggles, pains, soreness, colds, sleeplessness, anxiety, constipation/diarrhoea, inflammation, skin issues, fatigue… This is our body tapping us on the shoulder asking “Hey can you slow down, could you take a break for a minute, can you hear what I’m trying to show you?”
Unfortunately many people have become accustomed to functioning in the sympathetic nervous system AKA “fight or flight”. When this becomes the normal and the parasympathetic nervous system AKA “rest, digest & nest” gets pushed aside, this is when our body, mind and wellness begin to dysregulate.
What are the signs to look out for?
- Cravings and extreme appetite changes: appetite going up and down (hungry all the time or you can’t eat enough). Cravings usually include sweet/sugar/carby foods or salty foods.
- Frequent energy slumps and/or constant fatigue. Attention/concentration problems, brain fog and trouble focusing on tasks.
- Digestive dysfunction and reduced digestive capacity. Usually swaying to the side of constipation or incomplete bowel motions. This can also include increased gas, bloating, cramps, pains and reflux. *If severe= increased intolerances/allergies.
- Hormone dysfunction: commonly increased pre-menstrual symptoms including sore boobs, fluid retention, dizziness, hot flushes, night sweats, blood sugar imbalance, weight gain. Depending on the person, this could also present as amenorrhea.
- Anxiety or anxious/worried thoughts and nervousness, frustration.
6. Feeling constantly overwhelmed and on edge, even when things seem to be going well.
7. Sleep: trouble falling asleep, waking during the night (sometimes with worry or fearful thoughts).
8. Mood swings and poor mood regulation. Frequently reactive, irritable, snappy, overreacting, weepy (highly sensitive).
9. Low immune system. Commonly catching colds, flu’s or feeling run down.
10. Body aches, chronic pains or soreness: you may feel pain for a long time, even when you’re eating well and exercising
Our nervous system will become dysregulated as a result of continuous exposure to one or all of the following: emotional, environmental, physical or dietary factors.
6 dietary tips to balance your nervous system and reduce adrenal exhaustion
- Quit coffee and caffeinated drinks. This is the first step in healing your nervous system. This includes green tea, black tea, carbonated drinks, matcha, energy drinks, and any drink with cacao/cacoa.
- Quit all refined sugars. These can be just as stimulating as caffeine. Give yourself a break of any sugars or refined, white carbohydrates products.
- Include protein at each main meal to improve blood sugar regulation. Increase protein intake at snacks.
- Include healthy fats at each main meal. This includes fatty fish, avocado, nuts and seeds, fresh hemp or olive oil.
- Don’t skip breakfast. No fasting for both women and men. This will help to bring your cortisol down each morning and assist with balancing blood sugar levels.
- Drink 3L of water a day. Your cells need water. More water= more energy. You also need to focus on hydrating your colon and flushing your system of built up toxins.
Our nervous system and adrenals are so important to care for. They are involved in manufacturing hormones, blood sugar regulation, regulating the body’s minerals, maintaining our body’s energy levels in conjunction with the thyroid and producing stress- monitoring hormones. An overworked nervous system will eventually crash, so it is important to listen to the signs and work on supporting your system to prevent a crash. Prevention is always better than cure.