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Meditation for Adrenal Fatigue

  • Meditation helps with anxiety, stress and insomnia
  • Meditation deactivates stress related genes

Meditation is an essential part of adrenal fatigue treatment.

If you are thinking: My mind is too active to meditate! ....this article explains why that doesn't matter.

Although you can do much more with meditation, this page will focus primarily on meditation for adrenal fatigue and stress reduction.

Meditation can have a positive impact on many of the symptoms you are struggling with.

Meditation was a huge help for me. My startle response greatly reduced. It really helped get me out of a wired state, and become more mindful of when I am getting angry, etc.

This articles explains how meditation can help you recover from adrenal fatigue.

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How Meditation Helps

  • There are two ways that meditation can help with adrenal fatigue
  1. The immediate, short-term benefit of calming your nervous system while you are actually meditating. (The relaxation can last for a while, kind of how you feel after getting a massage)
  2. The long term benefit of increased mindfulness.

Although the short term benefit of calming your nervous system is nice, it is really the increased mindfulness that will help you in the long run.

What is the point of being calm for 20 minutes while meditating, if you are stressed the rest of your day, getting mad at other drivers, etc.

With increasing mindfulness, you will get better at catching yourself in a state of anger, envy, panic, etc.

In your daily life, you will gradually get better at catching yourself spiraling into negative mental states. These negative emotions all trigger the stress response.

  Envy actually activates some of the same neural networks involved with physical pain (Takahashi et al. 2009).6

You will still get angry, envious, etc., but for a shorter period of time. You will get better and better at catching yourself... and then letting it go, which brings your nervous system into a more calm state.

I used to replay arguments in my head all day, stay mad all day, and generate stress hormones all day. Now when I catch myself doing this, I just smile and let it go.

Do you tend to run around the house like a squirrel when doing chores? Move in quick, jerky motions? Mindfulness will help you catch yourself. Then....just whisper to yourself Slow and relaxed movements.

Getting good at emotion watching is very helpful for keeping your nervous system in a calm state.

My Mind is too Active to Meditate !

  • The goal is to simply watch your mind

People on adrenal fatigue forums often state .... I can't meditate, my mind is too active.

When I first tried to meditate, I felt like a caged animal. I sat there for about 3 minutes, and thought .... It's useless ... I may as well go do something..

But being good at meditation is not the point. Having your mind without thoughts is not the goal.

The main goals of meditation (at least mindfulness meditation) are:

  • Practice watching your mind, so you can .....
  • Notice when you are spiraling into a state of emotional stress

There is no question that those with adrenal fatigue probably have a more active mind than other people. This is because your nervous system is stuck in a state of stress, always looking for threats.

But that really doesn't matter. The point is to get better at watching your mind.

So in some ways, people with adrenal fatigue have more to work with. There is more mental activity to watch. (Yeah for you !!).

Just watch your thoughts as if you were watching fish jump on a lake. Just watch your mind bounce around without trying to stop it.

But you will likely find that just by watching it, your mind tends to calm down.

Studies: Anxiety and Stress

Anxiety is a very common adrenal fatigue symptom.

Here is a summary of studies that show why meditation is so important for adrenal fatigue treatment, and the chronic stress that causes it:

  • As compared to non-meditators, meditators experience lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol when exposed to a stressful situation1.
  • The stress hormone cortisol is reduced in proportion to the amount of time one has been practicing2.
  • Meditation reduces anxiety1.
  • Meditation was found to reduce insomnia and improve sleep quality2.
  • Meditating results in a reduced reaction time4. An increased startle response is common with adrenal fatigue....and meditation can help reduce it. New meditators experienced a 7% reduction in reaction time. However, a 22% reduction in reaction time was observed in experienced meditators 4. So the more you practice .... the more helpful it is for adrenal fatigue.
  • Meditation has been shown to deactivate stress related genes5.

How Often?

  • You need to meditate often for positive results

You can't just try meditating for a couple of days and say ....It doesn't work.

You are trying to rewire your brain, and you can't do that in a couple of days.

You should meditate at least twice per day, 20-minute sessions.

If I have had a stressful period at work, I have even done five (5) 15-mintes sessions each evening to calm my nervous system back down, for a total of 75-minutes each evening. I found this very helpful to get back out of a wired state.

How to Start?

There are a variety of good books on meditation. Read a bit. But ultimately you need to just do it.

Start with simple concentration meditation, such breath counting, chanting mantras, etc.

But move towards mindfulness meditation, or Open Awareness meditation, where you simply observe sensations, feelings, thoughts and emotions. This is how you learn to monitor yourself, which is how you can snap yourself out of negative and stressful emotions.

Guided Meditation is popular. And they can be fine for a beginner. But in one sense they are escapism. You need to get good at watching your emotions and thoughts. Having someone describe a peaceful beach to you does not do that. Guided meditation do not provide as much mental training.

More Active from Meditating?

When you first start to meditate, it is common to feel like your mind is becoming more active. This is not really what is happening.

It's just that you weren't watching it before, so you didn't realize just how busy your mind really was.

When you start watching it, you might be shocked at how wild and busy your mind is. Don't panic, don't try to stop thoughts, just watch them.

Summary

So get started. You will be frustrated for a while. Please try to stick with it.

This is a completely free and important part of any adrenal fatigue recovery plan.

It doesn't need to feel like it is working......but it is.


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References


1. Short-term meditation training improves attention and self-regulation
2. Influence of mindfulness practice on cortisol and sleep in long-term and short-term meditators
3. Long-term meditation is associated with increased gray matter density in the brain stem
4. Effect of Buddhist meditation on serum cortisol and total protein levels, blood pressure, pulse rate, lung volume and reaction time
5. Genomic counter-stress changes induced by the relaxation response.
6. Hanson, Rick (2009-11-01). Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom. New Harbinger Publications. Kindle Edition.
7. When your gain is my pain and your pain is my gain: neural correlates of envy and schadenfreude

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