Rituals, Routines, and Rhythms: Finding Balance Year-Round

Dr. Jamie Doughty, NDCase Studies, Fatigue, Natural Medicine

The holiday season is full of rituals. I can vividly remember driving down light filled neighborhoods singing carols in the car, being mesmerized by the Nutcracker ballet every December and baking delicious Ukrainian Christmas cookies as a young child.

Rituals provide us a sense of security, love, trust and beauty for life. Routines and rhythms bring us balance and support our adrenal glands in the best way.

Case: Sara, a 25 year old graduate student presented with worsening fatigue, difficulty concentrating, trouble falling asleep and a weakened immune system that left her battling some cold or another most months.

An in depth history of her daily rhythm revealed staying up late, sometimes past midnight to study. She needed to drink 3-4 cups of coffee in the mornings and had a craving for candy and potato chips every afternoon, her most convenient snack.

Sara’s symptoms pointed towards adrenal fatigue, a condition driven by many forms of physical and mental stress. Our adrenal glands produce a potent
hormone Cortisol in a specific circadian pattern that drives healthy energy levels during the day, restful and restorative sleep, and manages our immune response.

Testing for adrenal gland dysfunction involves a simple, non-invasive saliva collection taken 4 times over the course of 24 hours. Sara’s results revealed poor cortisol output, a hallmark of adrenal exhaustion, aggravated by longstanding poor dietary choices and lack of routine.

I recommended a balancing Ayurvedic herb called Ashwagandha that has affinity to help the adrenals adapt to stress and promote sound sleep.

Sara was encouraged to decrease her sugar and caffeine consumption along with incorporating activities to support her mind and body.

The following lifestyle recommendation are excellent at helping counter the parts of our lives that we cannot control and support strong adrenal glands:

*Set times to wake up, eat and sleep (optimally in bed by 10 pm)
*Avoid too much sensory stimulation from cell phones and/or tv throughout the day (especially in the evenings)
*Get outside for a walk in nature, 20 minutes a day can have a profound effect on rejuvination of the adrenal glands
*Spend 5 minutes in a meditation or deep breathing exercise (great at bedtime)
*Get regular massage to decrease stress and anxiety