This is something that I am very familiar and experienced personally after I started working Fly in Fly out in the construction industry. At the time I didn’t know that I was struggling with this and thought it was normal.
When the body is under a lot of stress for a continuous period of time, there is an increased need for more hormones to be produced. When the adrenals are exhausted and adrenal function is reduced symptoms such as: weakness; lethargy; fatigue; recurrent infections; dizziness; low blood pressure (upon standing); headaches; memory problems; food cravings; digestive disturbances; allergies; and blood sugar disorders may be present.
The signs and symptoms I experienced were:
- Dreaming about work in my sleep in which I felt stressed while sleeping and didn’t feel like I actually slept when I woke up that next morning.
- High cortisol levels on day 1 of R&R – levels were 701 in 2013 – with the range being 160-650! Imagine what they could have been on a work day.
- I would end up sick with a head cold every time I went on R&R!
- Indigestion and heartburn. When I would wake up in the morning and after I ate my chest would hurt.
- Upset stomach randomly from eating normal everyday foods (Irritable Bowel – Symptoms).
- Extreme pain below the chest a few times which required seeing the onsite medic and having to request an upper endoscopy (camera down my throat) to look for any internal damage/complications.
- Intense cravings for sugar (to the point I would eat a whole bag of lollies in one sitting!).
- Overexercising to try and compensate for not eating as well and to try and help me have more energy.
- Not being able to relax or enjoy hanging out with friends. Instead I would feel like I am on the go and need to be doing heaps of other things when I really didn’t need to be.
- Not being able to switch off when finishing work. This meant racing to eat dinner and get back to my room for a shower to just end up sitting in my room.
- Feeling tired and exhausted during the day but wide awake and alert come bed time.
What woke me up that something was wrong?
- I got my cortisol levels back and realised just how high they really were on my first day of R&R – pretty scary!
- After having the upper endoscopy done which didn’t indicate anything physically wrong internally.
- Starting to get stuck into my Nutrition studies and realising that my symptoms were not normal and that something was actually wrong.
What I did to change for the better?
- Saw a Naturopath/Nutritionist – who helped me get back on track with supporting my adrenal glands and gut.
- Started yoga/Pilates in the mornings before work and on R&R and stopped going to the gym every day! I actually bought cheap books from Kmart and started following the yoga/Pilates routines which were only 15 minutes each. Best thing I did!! Then on R&R I would attend proper yoga/Pilates classes for more variety.
- Started eating lots more salad with lunches and more vegetables at dinner. Started changing snacks to vegetable sticks and nut butters and breakfast to wholegrain GF oats with protein powder and fruit. Completely cut out added sugar.
- Really started progressing with my studies where I was able to identify myself as having adrenal exhaustion and started focusing on learning more about it and what I could do to help myself.
While this worked well for me everyone is different and requires slightly different treatment plans. Dietary changes are just one component, there are various herbal/nutrient supplements that are extremely effective along with lifestyle suggestions that can make a world of difference. If you are finding yourself in the same position I was in I strongly recommend seeking some additional support.
Please make an appointment with me to discuss your situation further so we can have you back on track in no time 🙂