When your body says rest but your brain says do more

Ever since learning that I have adrenal fatigue, I have been taking a much different approach to my work outs and daily activities.  Basically, since I began working out consistently about 10 years ago, I have been an over doer.  I would push my body to run miles it wasn’t up for. I would double up on yoga classes just because I thought I should be doing more.  When my wedding was quickly approaching, I would some days do 3 workouts.  I was pushing my body way too hard.  I was constantly tired and also my body hit a point where it wasn’t making any forward progress, in fact I was regressing. 

This never really sunk in as a problem until I went to the doctor, got some test results back and actually saw the science of what was going on internally.  My cortisol (stress hormone) levels were crazy and spiking at all the wrong times of the day, the function of my adrenal glands was severely lacking which then caused a lowering of thyroid hormones.  To put it simply, my body was begging me to slow down.

Ever since learning about adrenal fatigue I have been taking supplements and making it a point to slow down.  I have been cancelling scheduled work out classes if I notice the day before I am feeling especially tired.  I am taking more walks and running way less.  I stick to one work out a day and I make it a quality workout not a half ass exhausted workout like I had been doing.  In 2 months, I have noticed significant changes in my energy levels and also the change in my body that I was striving to see.

 This new approach is still a daily struggle for me.  What I find to be the hardest part is that my brain is still used to telling me to do more, to push harder.  I am being more intuitive with what my body needs but my brain tends to have a plan of its own.  A perfect example is over the weekend I went for a lovely hike on Sunday afternoon.  It wasn’t a crazy hard hike but I went for a while and it was exactly what my body needed.  When I got home I was utterly exhausted so I laid down on the couch.  Immediately my brain started firing off, “get up and do something”.  I knew that my body wanted to be still and enjoy the much-deserved rest but my brain was telling me to be productive.  This is the struggle that I have been finding.

I have come up with a few things that have been helping me quiet my mind and take the rest I need.

1.     Meditation- I find that if I am sitting around with not much to focus on that my mind tends to go a little crazy.  I have the head space app that I will use and do a 10-15-minute meditation to calm my thoughts down.  After I do this I usually feel super relaxed and eager to rest more.

2.     Do simple things around the house- if I absolutely can’t sit still I find little chores to do around the house.  Sometimes all I really need is to feel productive and that settles me down.  I will throw in a load of laundry or put away dishes. 

3.     Foam roll- I know this is an activity but it is one that is good for my muscles.  To me, foam rolling is an amazing example of self-care and it helps my body recover.

4.     Take a bath- this is one of my favorite things to do.  I will fill up a nice hot bath tub with some Epsom salt, light a few candles and just close my eyes.

5.     Face mask- there isn’t much else you can do besides lay around with a face mask on.

6.     Face time family- this is a perfect way to reconnect with my loved ones across the country and an hour can go by in no time at all.

The mind is a powerful thing and sometimes it tells us things that are not the best for us.  It is important to really be intuitive with your body and honor how it feels.  Now this is completely different from being lazy, I am not saying you should wake up in the morning and cancel a work out class just because you don’t feel like going.  You should cancel a workout class if your body is telling you it needs to rest; you will know the difference.