Ah, the hard-working adrenal glands. They sit like mushroom caps atop our kidneys and pump out stress hormones when we need them. And if we’re stressed all the time? They just keep pumping them out….
Even when we’re deeply exhausted but so tired-wired we can’t sleep.
Even when every little sound makes us jump.
Even when the anxiety won’t quit…or we’re having panic attacks.
The good news is we can connect to our adrenal glands—and through them our body’s entire stress response system—to interrupt this stress cycle. I learned this simple adrenal reset in a recent training with Kathy Kain, who specializes in bodywork for trauma recovery. You can do this technique on yourself.
Here’s how it works:
Get comfortable and sense or imagine your adrenals. Hold on, you say…you don’t where those are? No problem.
Your adrenals sit on top of your kidneys, which are near the bottom of your ribcage, next to the spine. The kidneys themselves are red and fist-sized. The adrenals are their lumpy, cream-colored caps.
So, sense or imagine your adrenals…in whatever way comes naturally. You might visualize the actual organs—or see imagery, colors, or energies. You might get more of a feeling-sense…like pulses, temperatures, tightness, or softening. You might even want to hold the area with your hands to get a better feel.
Next, pick one adrenal to start with. I usually start with the one that’s changing in some way. If you’re not sure, dealer’s choice. You’re going to work with both anyways.
Now, simply be curious. You’re not trying to change anything. What you are doing is being extra attentive to any signs of slowing and settling—here and in your whole body.
Your attention is the powerful tool here. So notice changes like:
- Softening, widening, or expansion
- Temperature changes (like cool becomes warm…or…overheated cools down)
- Soothing color changes
- Energies slowing down
- Taking a deep breath or breathing easier
- Slowing heart rate
- Feeling more relaxed overall
You may notice that these changes come in cycles. So you settle a bit, and then a new layer of activation shows up and slowly dissipates. Then you settle slightly deeper.
Continue until you feel slower and calmer. Then do the other adrenal. You’ll likely find it goes faster than the first one. Keep going and enjoy the settling.
Congrats! You’ve interrupted your stress cycle.
This can be a great way to short-circuit a stress response in the moment…like during a panic attack. But it’s even more effective when practiced regularly over time. In this age of frazzled nerves, we’ve often got to retrain our bodies to relax.