Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Go Easy On Your Adrenals

Adrenal Glands - wiki

Help Your Adrenals By Banishing Stress!

They look like golden-yellow crowns on the heads of the bean-shaped kidneys. How proudly the kidneys preen with the crowns on them! Their beauty belies the heavy responsibility these crowns carry on their shoulders. These small beauties are called Adrenal glands in medical parlance; and they give us the power to handle stress and strain in our life. Whatever else they do in the body, besides.

image by scol22, sxc.hu

The Adrenals are the first to take a hit the moment we encounter a stress-centric situation. In consultation with the distantly-located Hypothalamus and the pituitary, two buddies in the body-chemistry-management game, the Adrenals secrete the all-important cortisol chemical which helps us to be better prepared for handling stress, whenever we decide that the situation demands that we be stressful. Strange, yet true, that it is our decision to be stressed.

image by elisafox, sxc.hu

There are stresses and then there are stresses. One type of stress is that which is enhancing and enriching, like in confronting a situation as a challenge, thrill and excitement. The second type is debilitating and which we find difficult to resolve through our usual mechanisms of coping. These are the ones that demand huge amounts of cortisol, requiring the adrenals to burn faster.

image by ortega, sxc.hu

Poor things, there is a limit to how much you can drive them. A stage comes when they give up, and we say that "adrenal fatigue" has set in. That is when all the psychosomatic conditions begin manifesting. Google the term "adrenal fatigue", and close to four hundred thousand pages pop up on this subject.

image by float, sxc.hu

While the doctors recommend a host of therapeutic interventions to resolve the problem, the exact reasons that trigger stress are still in the realm of mystery for science. What could be extremely distressful for one person could be par for the course for another. The first person's adrenals may secrete huge amounts of cortisol, while for the other person it is hardly worth the effort. So isn't the root of stress linked to individual personalities more than it is connected with the brain's chemistry?

image by magtzedong, sxc.hu

But the second person who brushed aside the stress may have something else that gives them the goose bumps. A brave man who shoots down a lion without even getting up from bed, while we cringe away in fear; may jump from the same bed at the sight of a mouse, which we dangle before him. Any ideas why this happens?

image by vassiliki, sxc.hu

My guess about the answer to this is our thoughts. The answer also lies in our decision about which thoughts we allow to enter our mind, which thoughts we allow to dwell upon, and which thoughts we decide to discard or ignore. (Here is yet another take on this subject.)

image by buzzybee, sxc.hu

Preparing an inventory of situations where we feel the most stress in our life is a very illuminating exercise, and usually one of the first steps towards understanding oneself. For some, the stressful situations are ones when face-to-face with the elements of nature, others find the most stress in encounters with the birds and the bees and the animals of different varieties. Yet others find lot of stress in relationships in general, and relation with "that man" or "that woman" in particular.

image by eqphotolog, sxc.hu

Having consciously identified the sources of stress and having put them in notepad form on the desktop, the next step is to consciously decide that, in howsoever form we tackle the situation, we must not let stress get to us. There is some training of the mind involved here, like a preparatory course. This means that we tell ourselves to become aware of our thoughts and our breath the moment we know we are approaching what we know is going to be stressful. We tell ourselves to very consciously relax our body and slacken our muscles, repeating in the mind the thought that everything will be alright. And instead of victim-centric thoughts which make the problem looks bigger than it is, we decide to shift to thoughts of understanding, which makes the problem look small, very small. We visualize the scene of a relaxed body and a relaxed mind, with thoughts of victim-free understanding, over and over again. Nothing new here: all part of the concept of auto-suggestion.

image by fastfood, sxc.hu

And then, when the potentially stressful moment arrives, we simply play out the training we have given to ourselves! And the outcome is: that we are on top of the situation, not bogged down by it.

image by mzacha, sxc.hu

Worth trying, this simple exercise. There is no cost involved; only a matter of playing with one's thoughts. But gives your adrenals some rest and respite!

image by k_vohsen, sxc.hu


  1. Interesting stuff!

  2. Good post Sanjay, very informative. A great way to relieve stress is through neural reconditioning... involving meditation, controlled breathing tactics, and self-affirmations. The best resource for this that I've seen is in John Assaraf's new book The Answer... http://www.selfdevelopmentblog.com/development/

  3. Thank you so much for this article. I already have adrenal failure. I have reduced or eliminated many stressors and have diligently changed the way I view and react to situations. Is there help for me?

  4. Hello Lynn,

    As a self-developer, I have been personally witness to _miracles_ that take place in life by the power of the mind. Diseases and conditions that were supposed to be irreversible, that doctors and experts had given up on, were reversed and cured by will power and determination to regain good health.

    If they could, then I am sure you can achieve it too!

    Here's wishing you all the best,

    God bless,