Adrenal fatigue. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve had people come in over the last few months complaining of adrenal fatigue. And yet, according to Mayo Clinic, a not-for-profit medical education and research organization, the condition isn’t even an “accepted” medical diagnosis. I am sure my Naturopath colleagues would have something radically different to say on the subject; but as for us Chinese medicine practitioners, we certainly understand what it means to feel bone-tired.
For everything that we do there is a give-and-take. There’s no exception here! You can’t cheat needing to give and you can’t cheat needing to get. It is just as healthy and universal a need to receive support as it is for us to contribute, and be recognized for our unique contribution. But how often do we find ourselves trying not to be ‘needy’? Trying to show we can do more with less? Trying to show we are more capable than the next guy because we can cut more corners? Our society demands almost nothing less.
We’ve started to notice a trend in our children – an inability to stay present and focused with a single task at a time. The National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) found that in just 4 years parent-reported cases [of ever having] Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in children ages 3-17 increased by almost 22%. (Yowza!) Increased awareness of the issue has brought learning aid to millions of children. But what about adults?
On the job, adults are managing more information than ever. The landline rings, a colleague stops in to get an answer, the smartphone buzzes you have a new text, the computer pops up a reminder that you have a meeting; you need to get on Skype in 10 minutes to have a meeting with Japan. And forget business owners – who on top of doing their job have to then talk about doing their job on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc. One thing leads to another, and Bam! About 75% of the US adult population find themselves working over 40 hours/week (2006). And guess what else? We also start to see Attention Deficit Trait in adults. More and more people are feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.
In Chinese medicine, we talk about two sources of energy in the body – one is like the gas we add to a vehicle, the other like the vehicle’s battery. Our fuel is our sleep, our food, our friendships, our alone time. Our battery is our deepest resource – our fuel to be alive. Feeling bone-tired is deeper than having too much to do. It’s about not knowing when to rest (i.e. not enough fuel); and when we don’t rest we can start to lose touch with our drive for life– a sign that we’ve fully depleted our fuel and are actually starting to drain our body’s most precious battery.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are great tools to help your body get back on track; and knowing when to ask for help is integral to the healing process. So is listening to your body’s queues: Does your stomach feel tight? Have you been experiencing more headaches? Has your heart been racing? Is it difficult for you to fall asleep? Remember, sometimes actually doing less will help you accomplish more.
Interested to read more? I love this article on how long you’ll truly be productive at work (note to self: that’s only 6 hours/day for thinkers). In fact, they’ve shown folks who consistently sleep less than 6 hours/night have shown cognitive impairment equivalent to not having slept at all for two nights.