Adrenals: Supporting Your Kiddos into the Fall Months
After the September adrenaline rush and nervous bellies to start school, children are generally speaking getting into the swing of school time, activity time and all the hustle and bustle that comes along with it.
From a physiological standpoint, cortisol and adrenaline rise in the ‘stress’ of starting school. Usually this is short term. When we pack our kiddos schedule filled with activities, school and social this can ‘tap out’ the cortisol and adrenaline in that body. Signs and symptoms of this occurring in our kiddos include:
- Not feeling rested on waking
- Getting sick often or if when sick not able to kick it
- Craving sugar and treats
- Muscle cramps
- Change in mood – either a case of the grumps, aggression, weepy, or all the above
So what can we do?
1. Scheduling: Activities, school, homework, free time, down time – theres a lot going on. Being a few weeks in, sitting down with your child and checking in with them – how are they feeling physically i.e. muscle soreness, cramps, strong, tired, energized? What are they enjoying i.e. school and what specific courses, sports and specifically what part, and certain friends or games that they play with friends? If they are feeling pulled in one direction too much or another, it may be an opportunity to reschedule. Or schedule in ‘down time’.
2. (On that note) DOWN TIME: This is the first year I would say I’m discovering how important down time is for my children…specifically my two older ones (as all kids are so different). What does this look like? Heading home after school to make cookies, do some colouring, playing board games vs running around with friends (which is ALSO needed as well – more on this later). This could be a weekend morning lounging around doing the same thing as above. Movies nights are a great time to connect, cozy up and allow bodies to rest. Lastly – SLEEP. Oh my lanta. SLEEP is key to recovering and rejuvenating those little bodies!
3. Adding in some gentle adrenal support: This looks very different for all kiddos and so its important to ask a healthcare practitioner for advice. I love using herbs such as ashwaghanda (nurturing for cortisol levels) as well as astragalus (modulates the immune system as well as supporting the adrenals). Ribes nigrum is a gentle one for littles and so is holy basil.
4. Fun! Light, playful, kid fun!: Getting these littles INTO their body and OUT OF their heads. Let them run around with their buddies outside. Throw leaves, crunch leaves, and roll around. Nature is so grounding and nurturing in itself, for the WHOLE body, and specifically the adrenals.
What is the outcome?
If we can help to nurture cortisol levels, it can lead to more stable moods. Cortisol will have less effect on our immune system and therefore allow it to work well (when they get sick and from stopping them from getting sick). Stable cortisol levels will alleviate cravings and have kiddos less inclined to reach for sugar (if thats even possible lol!!) to ‘kick start’ their energy. Stable cortisol levels will have less of a negative effect on our nervous system thereby allowing the parasympathetic nervous system to regulate their digestion in the way its meant to.
So how is your fall shaping up? Check in with your little people. Happy Leaves Crunching Season!
– Dr. Hillary