Last year in May, I noticed a sharp decline in my motivation and energy levels. After months of stressful work, personal issues and a whole lot more, I realized I was burning myself out.
However, it was already too late. The more I tried to de-stress and recover from this ‘burnout state’, the worse my condition got. By August, I couldn’t do anything except work on the computer and maybe some light daily walking.
At this point, I still had no idea that the symptoms I was experiencing were those of adrenal fatigue. I thought I ‘just got out of shape’ and so I ramped up my training in the gym, started doing cold showers and did a lot of intense stuff hoping that it would get me in better shape physically.
It did not. In fact, it just made things much worse. I completely crashed my adrenals and was a wreck. In the months that followed, and right up until now, I’ve made some drastic changes to my daily lifestyle in order to get myself back on track. This included minimizing exercise, destressing as much as possible, taking adaptogenic herbs and supplements, and doing more meditation.
I’m still not fully recovered at the time of writing this, but I’m feeling much better, and that’s in part thanks to meditation. Here I’ll explore the question “does meditation help adrenal fatigue” by sharing my experience, as well as looking at what the science has to say on the matter.
Does Meditation Help Adrenal Fatigue?
Let’s start at the very beginning: what is adrenal fatigue?
Although not fully recognized in mainstream medicine, it’s described by Mayoclinic as a collection of symptoms that may include chronic fatigue, nervousness, brain fog, irritability, low motivation, depression and of course, poor sleep.
Adrenal fatigue happens when your adrenal glands, and your HPA axis (which includes the pituitary gland in your brain) stop functioning properly, due to high levels of stress (accompanied by high levels of cortisol) from your daily life.
As a result, the adrenals get worn out and either start producing too little cortisol, or keep producing too much – leading to symptoms of adrenal fatigue.
Therefore, in order to alleviate symptoms of adrenal fatigue, you might look into balancing the production of cortisol and other stress hormones by supporting the function of the adrenal gland and the pituitary gland.
This is where meditation comes in.
Meditation has been shown, in numerous clinical trials, to effectively lower stress by balancing cortisol. And here’s a bit more about why that is important if you’re suffering from AF.
Cortisol, Stress Hormones and Adrenals
The issue with cortisol is that it’s being overproduced in your body.
In normal circumstances, cortisol is healthy – it helps to wake you up and keep you alert when you need it. But when your body is constantly bombarded with small daily stressors (social media, triggering news and tv shows, angry boss etc.), it’s starting to produce cortisol on a continual basis.
Imagine if you went to the gym and exercised for 8+ hours per day, every day. Your muscles would get worn out sooner than later.
The same is with your adrenals. Over time, they can no longer keep up with the demands of this continuous stress – and so the body creates new homeostasis of being constantly tired in order to tell you something must change.
So, what kind of meditation is best for overcoming adrenal fatigue? I talk about that below.
Sample Meditation Guide for Adrenal Fatigue
- Find a comfortable position where you won’t be distracted or disturbed, ideally, sitting up straight
- Take a few deep breaths. Meanwhile, look forward but keep your awareness on the space around you; aka, your peripheral vision
- On your last breath out, gently close your eyes
- Start noticing inner sensations in your chest and belly
- Gently place your focus on the place where you feel your breath the most (upper chest, diaphragm, belly, etc.)
- Feel the rising and falling sensation of the breath as you count to ten with each in and out-breath
- Repeat this process for at least 10 minutes for optimal results
- Afterwards, gently open your eyes as you expand your awareness on the space around you once again.
That’s pretty much it. Do this every day (preferably, both in the morning and before going to bed) for a few months and you will notice changes in not just your stress and energy levels, but also your overall life quality.
Anything Else to Consider?
Keep in mind that adrenal fatigue should be addressed from multiple angles. Meditation alone is probably not enough to help you completely overcome your condition.
Obviously, speaking with your doctor is the most important first step. Beyond that, here are a few actionable tips that have helped me the most to overcome adrenal fatigue that you can implement today:
- Go to bed before 10 PM and avoid any digital screens 1-2 hours before bed to help regulate your natural melatonin production.
- Avoid any form of strenuous exercise, if possible (only yoga, walks and light cycling is generally recommended)
- VERY important to listen to your body, if you feel tired after exercise it means it’s still too hard for your adrenals to handle. Don’t push yourself because you’ll crash and it will take longer to recover.
- Reduce inflammation in the body by avoiding alcohol, drugs, ultra-processed foods, and any kind of foods that you might have a reaction to (most common examples being dairy and gluten)
- Remove toxic and negative “friends” from your life.
- Perhaps the most important of all, stay patient. Adrenals are one of the last body parts to heal, so remember to keep a positive attitude and take it one step at the time.
So there you have it: the answer to “does meditation help adrenal fatigue” is a definite yes.
This ancient practice helps reduce cortisol, along with balancing other stress hormones so your adrenal glands (and your pituitary gland) can catch up with all the demands that your daily lifestyle is putting on them.
Remember though, meditation is just one piece of the puzzle. Combining it with a lifestyle where you’re going to bed early, avoiding processed junk and alcohol, and avoiding strenuous exercise will get you to recovery fastest.