024 // Your adrenal glands, chronic stress, and Hashimoto’s autoimmune disease

Health with Hashimoto’s is the free weekly podcast where the exhausted mom can find a path to whole health.

Stress is stressful! Your adrenal glands are designed to handle acute stress. When stress turns chronic, that causes problems in your adrenal glands, your thyroid gland, and your immune system. In this episode, you will learn 5 simple tips to manage your stress holistically.

You will find this episode below in audio format and a written summary because I know not everyone is an audio learner. Some links may be affiliate links that will not increase your price. Each episode is for informational and educational purposes. Please discuss any questions or concerns with your healthcare professional.

Listen to the Podcast

5 ways to holistically reduce stress

Subscribe so you don’t miss out

Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle PodcastsPodbeanAudibleiHeartRadioPlayer.fmAmazon AlexaYouTube

Watch via YouTube

Show Notes:


003 // What do my thyroid labs mean? https://healthwithhashimotos.com/thyroid-labs/


Hashimoto’s 101 is your free guide to understanding Hashimoto’s thyroiditis so that you can create a path to health.


Esther Yunkin, RN speaking to a woman holding a coffee mug. Both seated on a couch.

Download the Health with Hashimoto’s App

Unlock your wellness journey with the free Health with Hashimoto’s app!

Join a supportive community that’s here for you every step of the way.

Binge your free mini-course, Hashimoto’s Decoded, designed to answer your questions and cut through Hashimoto’s confusion.

Ready to take control of your health and feel like yourself again? Enroll in the full Holistic Hashimoto’s course.

Download the free app now and get started!

iOS users – look for the Health with Hashimoto’s app.

Android users – Esther is working on your stand-alone app. In the meantime, you can find it via the Passion app.

Take the free Hashimoto’s Decoded min-course

Esther holding a coffee cup that says "make it happen" with title of: Hashimoto's Decoded: Clear steps to regain control of your health

Read the Transcript:

This transcript is auto-generated and may have slight errors.

Nobody likes to be stressed out. It feels horrible. But did you know that being chronically stressed can actually be increasing your chances of getting an autoimmune disorder and specifically thyroid problems? Really it can.

We’re going to talk about that today. And I’m not gonna leave you stuck. I’m not gonna leave you wondering if you are destined to have problems because of the stress all around us in your life. No, I never want to leave you feeling hopeless like that.

I always want to empower you and help you discover a true, simple, and sustainable path to health. That’s why you’re here. That’s why you’re listening to the health of Hashimoto’s podcast because I help you regain your energy and create wellness. I give you true simple and sustainable tips so that you can create whole health.

So what is it about stress that causes problems? Well, it’s a bunch of things, actually.

Adrenal glands and stress

Number one, when you are stressed, your adrenal glands put out more stress hormones. Well, that makes sense, right? Well, your adrenal glands are designed for acute stress, they work really well and they put out hormones to help your body do that whole fight and flight thing or stress hormones are really good at that short-term acute stress. The problem is there is stress all around us. Think of the stress in your family and your relationships while you’re at work and in your finances. And while you’re driving. Stress seems to be everywhere. I could list off so many things.

The problem is we are chronically stressed. When your body responds to stress, it releases the hormones and then it has a time of healing where your body gets back to normal. But when we’re constantly stressed, there’s no getting back to normal. There’s no shifting into the other side of your stress system which is the parasympathetic response system. That’s commonly referred to as “rest and digest.” So when we are chronically stressed we don’t get into the rest and digest which means that our bodies cannot heal.

In episode three, I explained to you about your thyroid labs, and one of those labs is your free T3. I described it as kind of a brake system. It’s also in the Hashimotos 101 Guide. If you have not downloaded that you can get it down in the show notes. And I talk to you about that free T3 as a clear signal of your body saying whoa, something’s going on. We need to heal. Think of that free T3 as an indication that your body is stressed.

Chronic stress is no good for you. So if your body is putting the brakes on your thyroid conversion for the cells, what your body is doing is it’s saying no, we cannot activate that cell and turn it on because there’s other things that we need to be doing right now. Like healing.

So how can you approach this chronically stressful life that you have to give your body more time to heal? I’m gonna give you some tips. But first we’ll talk about another way that stress impacts your overall health and it impacts your immune system and it creates more of an autoimmune environment. That is your gut.

I’ve told you many times on this podcast the three different components that everybody needs for an autoimmune disease and those are number one a genetic component number two of that component and number three a trigger. Well, stress impacts your gut.

Stress and your digestion

How do you respond digestively when you are under stress? Some friends that I have they have told me that they are a stress pooper. When they are under stress. They have to go to the bathroom very frequently because all of the food that they’re eating or even when they’re not eating, it’s going straight through them. They feel like they need it to go about with me all the time when they’re under stress.

Other people feel like their digestive system doesn’t move at all. When they’re under stress. They feel like they eat something and it just turns to lead in their stomach and it never moves. Either way. We know that stress impacts our digestive system.

One of the things that I have my clients do when they’re working with me is work on diaphragmatic breathing before each meal. When you breathe with your diaphragm with a big belly breath, you are telling your body to shift from the stress mode to the rest and digest mode before you eat. Take some big deep breaths with your diaphragm to shift into that rest and digest mode. Get your digestive system working properly. But when you’re chronically stressed, it will affect your digestive system’s function all the time, not just while you’re eating.

Stress also impacts the barrier of your gut. I talked in one of the other episodes about leaky gut and that’s when this lining of your intestines which if you stretched out your intestines, that would be the size of a tennis court. That’s how many cells that you have that are just one or two cells thick, all in your gut the size of a tennis court. So that barrier is really important. And when you’re under stress, that barrier of your intestines, it can become leaky it can have gaps in it so that foods and proteins and things can get through it which causes more problems in your body and it has more of an impact in autoimmune conditions. Researchers who have looked at intestinal barriers and stress, they have found that it increases your risk of all autoimmune diseases.

So chronic stress impacts your immune system and your thyroid in several different ways. So what are you to do about it? We’re not gonna stay stuck here!

Obviously, we have a lot of stressors in this world and in our lives. The first thing we can do is to minimize stress and stressful situations.

And here’s a hard one. Maybe it’s easy. I don’t know it’s simple, but not easy. Get off social media. Now this is not something that I have been able to do. I do turn it off on Sundays, but I am on social media and I’m on it probably too much. When you’re on social media, it actually raises your stress level. And it depends on what you’re looking at. It can raise your stress level more.

Have you ever looked at somebody’s argument? I’ve been on Twitter more lately, because you can have discussions about medical freedom and about a lot of interesting health topics that have not been able to be shared freely on other platforms. So I’ve been on Twitter recently, and I have realized that there’s a lot of arguing on Twitter. It’s entertaining, but at the same time, I know that reading through those threads of people disagreeing it can teach me stuff and I love to see both sides of things, but it also can raise my stress level. So I’ve had to put boundaries around my time on social media in general and Twitter specifically because I don’t need to raise my stress level just because they are arguing I need to set a boundary for myself and my mental health and my physical health and not engage in stressful activities.

And recognizing that staring at your phone screen. It can be stressful. That’s a key thing. It can be stressful to stare at your phone screen, especially if you have things that are stressful. On your phone. Another thing that you might not think is stressful that actually is stressful to your body the shows that you choose to watch on TV or on your phone. When there is stress and adrenaline on the show. It actually impacts you.

I’ve seen the memes where people are like, Oh, I’m stressed out so I’m gonna go listen to a murder podcast, and I get it. They seem really fun. And soothing, but it’s actually stressful on you on a physiological level, your body your mind does not know the difference between real and fake. And if you are constantly exposing yourself to high adrenaline situations and the shows that you watch or that you listen to you are also impacting your own stress situation.

So when I say minimize the stress and stressful situations, there are easy things that you can do or simple things that you can do to reduce that stress, such as choosing what to watch or choosing what to engage in. There are also times when you cannot control the stress.

You can’t just choose not to go to work because it stresses you out. You might want to look for another job if it’s always stressing you out. But you probably still need to work so of course we need to talk about how to cope with or manage stress when you can’t avoid a stressful situation.

You are whole: body, mind, spirit, diet, environment

You are a whole person and when I say that I am talking about body, mind, spirit, diet, and environment. All five of those areas come together to create the whole you. You cannot separate one from the rest. So as we talk about ways to cope with or manage stress I’m going to give you one simple tip for each of these five areas.

For best results, pick ONE

Now if you want maximum implementation, only pick one. If you try to pick all five areas, you most likely it’s gonna be like a New Year’s resolution where you start out with a bang and then by I think it’s January 14 that most people have already fallen off of their New Year’s resolution wagon. I don’t want you to do that. So listen to these five tips and pick one to implement. You can go back and you can say okay, I’ve already implemented this one I want to start on the next you can set a reminder on your phone Hey, like in three weeks, go back to Episode 24 to help the Health with Hashimoto’s podcast and reevaluate my stress and what I can be doing?

All right, so the five areas body, mind, spirit, diet, and environment.

Stress: Body

Let’s start with a body exercise. Exercise can be a stressor it can also be a stress reliever. You are the CEO of your own health. You are in charge. You get to look at all of the components and see how things are coming together and impacting you. So when you look at your exercise, is it a physical stressor or is it releasing stress and it might be doing both? For me running is a stress reliever mentally but running is a physical stressor and I have more symptoms of hypothyroid when I run so for myself I have had to decide. I value my physical health and I can exercise in other ways so I am choosing not to run. What is it going to be for you? Exercise can be both a physical stressor and a mental stress reliever it can also be a physical stress reliever.

Stress: Mind

So when I go through body mind, spirit, diet, environment, body, it’s exercise, mind meditation. Now meditation I’m not talking about emptying your mind. I’m talking about thinking about one thing and coming back to that over and over. If you practice biblical meditation, you’re thinking of one verse or one phrase that describes that God and you’re repeating that over and over and you’re thinking about it. If you’re sitting in silence and you’re breathing, maybe you are focusing on you’re in and out breathing, you’re counting to 21 breaths and then you’re starting again, meditation is sitting or being in peace and focusing on one thing.

If you’ve never tried biblical meditation, open your Bible app or open Bible on the computer or your physical Bible and find it Psalm 145. It talks about meditating on God’s glorious splendor, on his majesty and on all of God’s wonderful works. Meditation does not have to be big or scary. That is one way you can cope with or manage stress on that mind aspect.

Stress: Spirit

So body mind, spirit, diet environment, let’s move on to spirit. Of course, within biblical meditation, we’re gonna follow it up with prayer. People who pray have better stress response that is proven out in the literature. When you pray, it lowers your stress. If you don’t pray, well, you can try it. It’s simply talking to God. I teach the kids in my Sunday school that you don’t have to do anything special to pray. You just simply talk to Jesus that you can do it anytime, anywhere, but you don’t have to pray to lower your stress on a spiritual level. You can also express gratitude. Of course you can express gratitude in prayer or you can express gratitude in a gratitude journal. Praying and expressing gratitude both lower your stress in your body. It is good to be thankful it is good to practice gratitude.

Stress: Diet

Right body mind, spirit diet is next. Processed foods are a huge physical stressor. Your liver and other parts of your body are not designed to deal with all of the processed foods. So one way to lower your stress is to cut out the things that are stressing out your body so reduce your processed foods as much as possible. That will lower your stress.

When you take something out, you obviously have to fill that gap. So what are you going to fill your diet with if you’re not eating processed foods? Ideally, you’re going to fill it with vegetables. Anything that grows from the ground is going to be healthier than that is manufactured in a plant. Veggies are better than any processed food. Vegetables, in general, help your body deal with stress.

If you look at what you eat each day or each week and your goal is to double your veggies or just to add one more servings of veggies each day. You’re going to be able to help your body deal with stress better, you’re going to give it more fuel to process the stress. You’re going to help your hormones and your adrenal glands to be able to function better.

So when it comes to diet, vegetables, they’re good. I don’t necessarily like to eat them. I don’t know about you. I’ve always struggled with that it is an area that I am consistently striving to get better because quite honestly, I didn’t grow up loving vegetables. I didn’t grow up having an abundance of variety. So it’s something that I’m working on. How about you? Are you working on vegetables? Hey, well, I’m talking about that. Well, you head over to Instagram, send me a message and give me your best ideas about veggies. How do you like to incorporate them into your diet? I would love to know because like I said it’s something that I’m always trying to work on as well. You can find me on Instagram at Esther y.rn

Stress: Environment

Alright, we talked about body mind, spirit and diet. The last thing is environment. Here’s a super simple tip. Aromatherapy smells are very powerful when it comes to our emotions. So if you’re trying to lower stress, start a diffuser with a few essential oils. Smells are powerful.

I know there’s a lot of essential oil companies out there you might have a favorite already. If not, I want you to stay away from Amazon because there are so many fraudulent oils out there and by fraudulent I mean they probably smell pretty but they are filling your house with toxins. And again, we don’t want to stress out our body. We’re trying to lower the stressors so you do want to get a quality pure oil. I use Eden’s garden oils because they have been proving the pureness of their oils long before the other companies even the two big MLM companies. I love that they are women owned. I love their prices. I love their commitment to purity, and I really love some of their blends for lowering stress lowering anxiety. My favorite one is anxiety ease, but you can go over to their website and you can find a bunch of blends. Try them out. See what lowers your stress with all aromatherapy.

It’s like with many things that we talked about on this podcast. You don’t want to overdo anything because too much of anything causes imbalance in your body. So don’t diffuse the same essential oils every single day you have to take a break otherwise you can get the sensitivity and you do not want a sensitivity to any essential oil. And yes, you can get a sensitivity even if you’re using the most pure, most wonderful aroma ever. If you have too much of a good thing your body says well this is not a good thing anymore, and it turns bad.

So take a break from your favorite smells. Don’t do them every single day but your sense of smell is powerful and what a simple way to lower your stress levels by just putting a couple drops of oil in your diffuser turning it on and just sitting and breathing or just going about your day and breathing those smells that will reduce your stress so I’ve given you five different things that you can do to cope with or to manage your stress.

What’s next?

I’m curious which one are you going to do and also give me your all your veggie tips, head over to Instagram and tell me what veggies you like you can get a recap of all of these over on the blog. And of course I have other resources over there for you as well. I look forward to chatting with you next week. Next week. I think we’re going to dive into all things COVID and autoimmune or Hashimotos related. I know that one’s a big topic. If you have a specific question about that. I would love to narrow down the focus and tell you exactly what you are wondering about COVID and autoimmune disease or Hashimotos or thyroid. Let me know your questions so that I can answer it on a future episode.

This podcast is for informational and educational purposes only. Please be sure to discuss any concerns and plans with your trusted healthcare professional