How to Prepare for Emotional Events When You Have Adrenal Fatigue

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH; Carrie Lam, MD; Jeremy Lam, MD

woman making many faces during emotional eventsLearning how to care for yourself during stressful times or emotional events is key to your continued health and wellbeing. This is particularly true if you suffer from disorders like Adrenal Fatigue, which are triggered or exacerbated by both positive and negative stress. Everyone experiences emotional events on a regular basis—activities or days that cause a great deal of emotional stress and upheaval. Learning to care for yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally during these times can be vital to your continued good health. It will also help you to get back to your normal routine without lingering feelings of physical or emotional exhaustion. To help with this, you’ll need to adopt some strategies for protecting your body from stress before, after, and during any potentially stressful event.

What are Emotional Events?

Emotional events can be anything—something sad, such as a funeral or anniversary of a death, or something happy, like a birthday celebration or holiday. These types of events may seem very different, but in reality they can both cause a lot of stress and tension. This stress can come from a variety of sources. Perhaps you find it difficult to navigate family relationships or become tired if you have to prepare meals for everyone, or you may even find it hard to spend an entire day around other people. Everyone has their own stress points, and emotional events present lots of them.

No matter what your stressors are, remind yourself that they are valid. There’s no point in trying to deny that you feel stressed even during happy events because that will just make you feel ashamed leading to even more stress. It’s far better to admit that even happy events can cause stress and start implementing some strategies and ideas to make these experience as easy as possible for everyone involved.

This is even more important if you have AFS, which can be both caused and worsened by stress. The last thing you want is to find yourself completely devoid of energy after an emotional event. This will only lead to you spending days or even weeks attempting to recover and trying to resume your normal activities. It’s far better to anticipate the problem and prepare yourself ahead of time.

What is Adrenal Fatigue?

man going through emotional events with a woman comforting himAdrenal Fatigue is a stress-related disorder that can cause a number of troubling symptoms. It’s caused by dysregulation of your NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) stress response system, the system designed to help you cope with stress and protect you from sources of the stress. The NEM stress response involves a number of organs and systems including your adrenal glands which are a vital component. Your adrenals secrete hormones critical to daily function and also assist in the battle against stress. When you experience stress, your NEM stress response triggers an increase in the release of these hormones.

However, if stress becomes prolonged or chronic, your adrenal glands can become fatigued. The NEM stress response is designed to be switched on and off as needed in order to deal with short term stressors such as predators. However, because stress in the modern world is often cumulative and ongoing, this can cause your NEM system to break down. In the early stages of AFS, this dysregulation doesn’t usually show up in medical testing, which is why many people faced with AFS show normal test results. In the early stages of AFS, even though your adrenal glands are fatigued, they continue working harder and harder to produce enough hormones. However, this prolonged effort can take its toll and will eventually reveal itself through a variety of troubling symptoms, including fatigue, brain fog, digestive problems, depression, heart palpitations, insomnia, fluctuating sugar levels, and anxiety.

There is no set time or level of stress at which AFS definitely occurs. Some people thrive on stress whereas others suffer negative consequences at the slightest hint of stress. So your body’s response to stress is dependent on your individual tolerance and your emotional stability. Everyone is different, and this is one of the things that makes AFS so problematic and difficult to diagnose, understand, and manage.

How Emotional Events Affect Adrenal Fatigue

Adrenal Fatigue is caused and exacerbated by physical, emotional, and mental stress. Stress is an extremely damaging state and can cause a variety of problems such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, inflammation, and even certain types of cancer. Unfortunately, it’s also cumulative, and many people have died from too much stress in their lives over the long term. This situation is unfortunate, but all too common these days because of modern work and lifestyle demands. In fact, countless elements in your life can cause stress, from physical issues to emotional events. Some of the most common causes are

  • General ill health
  • Infections
  • Too much or too little exercise
  • Negative emotions
  • Pain
  • Chronic illnesses, such as diabetes
  • Digestive problems
  • Relationships problems
  • Work problems
  • Mental health issues

its important to ask for help during emotional eventsEmotional events, whether good or bad, can also be a major cause of stress. If you already have AFS, these events can completely derail your recovery program and cause your symptoms to worsen. No matter how hard you’ve been working on your recovery, emotional events can quickly undo all your hard work and may even cause an adrenal crash. The stress of these events can also add to or compound the stress you may have already experienced in the past and increase the demand on your adrenals to the point where they can no longer cope, resulting in AFS. Avoiding these situations is vital if you want to live a healthy and happy life. The best way to do this is to have a plan for how to cope with unavoidable emotional events.

Planning for Emotional Events

The best way to get through emotional events without negative consequences, both before and after, is to put a plan in place. This plan should support your health and help you protect your energy reserves as much as possible. The strategies you choose will depend on your physical condition that day as well as the emotional demands of the particular event. You may feel better some days and therefore, more able to cope with the demands of emotional events, whereas other days you may feel exhausted and distraught, with the impression that the slightest pressure may break you. As with any strategy for AFS recovery, you’ll need to tailor your approach to your own individual needs and health condition and monitor your system throughout the day to ensure you aren’t pushing yourself too hard.

Some strategies that may help you cope with stressful events include

  • Allowing other people do the preparation and cooking for the event, if possible
  • If you’re feeling emotional, making sure you socialize as little as possible by just attending and sitting there quietly
  • Staying seated as much as possible
  • Allowing other people to bring you food or drinks so you don’t have to move through crowds and socialize along the way
  • Using Adrenal Breathing Exercises (ABE), before and after the event and before socializing
  • Taking frequent rests throughout the day, particularly before and after socializing
  • Taking naps when needed
  • Being aware of what you’re eating or drinking. At the time, it may feel good to have some alcohol or eat food that’s not in your diet plan, but you’ll most likely pay for it later
  • Keeping small, healthy snacks in your pocket if food isn’t served at the event so you can eat when you feel your energy dropping
  • Not feeling bad if you aren’t socializing as much as other people and allowing yourself to enjoy the event without guilt or shame
  • Trying to spend time with people who make you feel good and avoiding anyone who causes you stress or elicits negative emotions
  • Spending the day after the event resting to get your energy levels back to normal

Final Thoughts

woman in tears from emotional eventsThe stress and pressures of emotional events can have a deleterious effect on your mental, emotional, and physical health. Too often, these events can leave you exhausted, strung out, and longing for some alone time so you can rest and heal. This is particularly true if you suffer from AFS, which is caused and exacerbated by stress, including emotional stress. By employing a few easy strategies and tactics, you can learn to weather these events the best you can and without damaging your health or your overall wellbeing. This will help you avoid lingering consequences after the event and give you the strength and the energy you need to get back to your normal routine as quickly as possible.

© Copyright 2019 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

Dr. Lam’s Key Question

Emotional stress can take a heavy toll on your health and wellbeing, particularly if you have AFS. That’s why you need to prepare as best you can for emotional events. This means taking steps before, during, and after events to safeguard your health and wellbeing.

emotional events