Duke was a family friend, a gentle, average-sized guy with a large family. He and his wife had just purchased a new refrigerator and stocked it with groceries when their house caught fire. After all the kids got out safely, Duke ran back inside and picked up the new, fully stocked refrigerator and carried it outside.
The fire was put out and their home was salvaged. A day later, when it was time to move the fridge back inside, it took three strong men to move it back in. Stay with me, this is more than a story about a man who really, truly hates to waste food.
What Duke experienced was the heightened physical performance that comes from an adrenal function in full swing. With adrenaline coursing through his veins, he briefly had the strength of three men. That is the job of your adrenal glands. These two walnut- sized, triangular shaped organs sit on top of your kidneys and, as part of your endocrine system, release and regulate hormones, including adrenaline, as needed to deal with the stress you experience. Kind of makes you feel all warm and fuzzy just knowing your body looks after you like that, doesn't it?
We all have times in our lives when our adrenal glands go into action, and yet we're not even aware of it. For someone who has had an injury or is suffering a major illness such as cancer, diabetes or heart disease, stress is suffered on two levels. First there is the psychological stress or the very idea that this frightening illness or injury has entered your body and life, and second, the biological stress or what the illness is causing on a cellular level.
But your adrenals don't stop there, they also "have your back" during times of emotional crisis such as divorce, caring for a seriously ailing loved one, the loss of a job, continual overworking or a death in the family. These amazing tiny organs (weighing about as much as a grape) kick into high gear whenever needed, no matter what type of stress you experience.
They are the Spider-Man of our bodies. The trouble starts when the stress becomes long-term. They're sprinters, not long-distance runners. But they’ll keep trying, even though they aren't built for it, until there is a major strain in the body.
You may not even recognize what is happening in your body as "strain." But if you listen to the language of your body, it will tell you when it’s on overload. The signs are feeling tired for no reason, trouble sleeping, slight depression or feeling "tapped out," moodiness and using colas, coffee, chocolate or snack foods to get through the day.
If you’re living your life in the fast lane, remember you are the one driving and you are the one that can slow things down. The fast-lane living of modern times has made adrenal fatigue commonplace while most people don’t know it exists. But your body knows what it is, and if you’ve experienced some of the above mentioned symptoms, you may be suffering from it.
It’s everywhere and connected to many conditions, including chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and a host of other illnesses that have doctors in a quandary.
Getting out of the fast lane is easier said than done. We are creatures of habit, and when you have been chronically busy for years, finding time to stop is difficult. It feels unproductive somehow. And yet, to stop sawing and sharpen the saw may be the most productive thing you can do.
The stress you perceive is the stress you feel. To one person, the events that cause you to say, “I’ve had a terrible morning, my life is a mess” may cause another to smile and simply say, “Oops, sorry I’m late.” So here are a few tips on creating a calmer, more peaceful life (and rejuvenating your adrenal glands).
The most important is to not sweat the small stuff. And it's all small stuff.
Now, here’s the rest of the list:
— Find quiet time to sit and meditate daily, whether you’re at the office or home. Start with five minutes, release your thoughts and just breathe.
— Go with the ebb and flow. When obligations slow down, prioritize that time and take a morning off here or there as the season allows to enjoy some personal time. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Sit on your patio and sip a cup of tea or go for a leisure walk. Just go a few blocks, walk slowly and breathe while you think thoughts about the goodness in your life.
— Give yourself a facial, pedicure or other personal treat.
— If you have a lot of reasons to hold tension in your body, then you might need help to get the tension out. Get a massage.
— Write bigger on your calendar so there’s less room for your “to do list.”
— Release your worrisome thoughts. Worry and negative thinking give energy and momentum to problems, causing them to expand.
— Pick a spot that you are in daily. Each time you are there, take a moment to feel appreciation for all you have. Call this your appreciation spot and make it a daily exercise. When you feel lucky and blessed, stress is as far away from you as it can possibly be.
Releasing stress from your life may not be easy, but it is oh, so worth it.
I’m not sure why Duke chose to save the fridge during a house fire. I may have chosen something else to pull out of the house. But I am grateful for his efforts, it taught me a lesson I will never forget. I’m hoping you’ll give your adrenal glands a rest for a good long while.
Author of the award-winning book "All Health's Breaking Loose," reach Loa for questions or comments at gotoloa.com