Stress management through ayurveda is healthy and it synchronises both body and mind. Ayurveda offers stress and anxiety relieving medicines and treatment.
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What is stress ?
Studies show that ten percent of the world’s population suffers from chronic or unrelenting stress. Its rampancy is the result of stressors found in all areas of life– home, work, even interpersonal relationships. When left unresolved symptoms such as feelings of helplessness, excessive use of alcohol or drugs, social withdrawal, lapses in memory and concentration, and increased accidents and mistakes may manifest.
Stress is the result of strain arising from the conflict between the external and internal environment leading to emotional and physical pressure. There are both positive and negative stresses, depending on each individual’s unique perception of the tension between the two forces. For example, positive stress, also known as eustress, can help an individual to function optimally. For example the presence of a deadline pushes us to make the most of our time and produce greater efficiency. Day to day life shows evidence that some form of positive stress can add color and vibrancy to our lives. It is important to in mind, that stress management refers to using stress to our advantage, and not removing the presence of stress in our lives all together.
Negative stress can result in mental and physical strain. The individual will experience symptoms such as tension, headaches, irritability and in extreme cases, heart palpitations. Hence, whilst some stress may be seen as a motivating force, it is important to manage stress levels so that it does not have an adverse impact on your health and relationships.
How does stress affect our body ?
Stress and depression leads to low energy level, disturbed sleep and feeling of exhaustion. Sleepless nights and exhaustion not only negatively affect your health but also cause dark circles (due to the accumulation of toxins), wrinkles, acne and pimples which can lower your self-confidence. Stress can also affect liver hindering its process of toxin expulsion leading to exaggerated psoriasis. Genital herpes breakouts are much more frequent in this condition.
What does Ayurveda offer for stress and anxiety management ?
There are many forms of non-destructive natural stress relief that can be learned and practiced to aid in stress relief. Some of these include stress management techniques such as relaxation in the form of yoga, meditation, abhyanga (ayurvedic body massage) , shirodhara, Pranayama (deep breathing) , imagery, and self-hypnosis.
Meditation is one of several natural stress management techniques that aids in stress reduction. Like self-hypnosis, some may shy away from this practice because it is perceived as being cloaked in mystery. Therefore, meditation may not be taken seriously as an effective stress relief tool. Like self-hypnosis, this assumption could not be further from the truth.
Meditation gives your body the needed time to rest and relax before your day begins or after. It is also known to reduce stress hormones that accumulate during the day and is useful in stress relief. Simply close your eyes and sit quietly for ten or twenty minutes. Concentrate on relaxing each of your muscle groups starting at your feet and working your way upward. As you are doing this, make sure to focus on your breathing. Count each breath as you inhale and then exhale. This gives you a point of concentration and keeps your mind from wondering. With a little practice, meditation can be easily mastered and added as one of several stress management techniques that you could have at your disposal.
Abhyanga is a form of body massage using ayurvedic herbal oils like ksheerabala oil, ashwagandha oil, sesame oil or coconut oil. These are processed with herbs like ashwagandha, bala (sida cardifolia), milk , etc. Ayurvedic body massage helps to relieve stress, strengthen muscles (mamsa dhatu) and improves blood circulation. It calms nerves and helps body to get rid of toxins of body and mind.
Shirodhara is an ayurvedic treatment where a thin stream of medicated oil or medicated buttermilk is allowed to flow in a uniform pendulum motion for 20 minutes. It’s the best stress relief treatment. Apart from stress relief it also helps to reduce blood sugar level and is a best ayurvedic treatment for dandruff and hair growth. Shirodhara is a best ayurvedic remedy for sleeplessness or Insomnia.
Imagery is one of the many natural stress management techniques used. While practicing imagery you imagine a serene and calming environment when you are feeling unduly stressed. Imagery accompanied by deep cleansing breaths while consciously relaxing tense muscles is an effective tool for stress relief.
Self-hypnosis is another of many natural stress management techniques. Hypnosis is often frowned upon due to individuals using unnecessary mystical rituals in combination with this useful practice. However, when performed correctly, self-hypnosis is a perfectly grounded and effective tool in relieving tension and reducing stress.
When stress becomes excessive, some may self medicate by taking drugs or drinking alcohol to numb their overwhelming feelings of stress. These are unhealthy stress management techniques and if done often can be a dangerous form of stress relief. Overuse of any substance, be it drugs or alcohol, may lead to addiction. This is well known to be destructive to one’s mental and physical health and well being.
Dos and Don’ts while managing stress:
- Try to conquer stress through natural ways. Avoid consumption of anti stress medications as much as possible.
- Learn relaxing techniques like Yoga and Meditation.
- Attend aerobic classes or take a walk in morning. Brisk Walking relaxes mind and improves blood circulation.
- Surround yourself with people who are non-toxic and good for your overall well-being.
- Keep away from people who are toxic, be it at work or in your social circle. Negativity promotes stress.
- Make sure you get a good night’s sleep for 7 – 8 hrs in the night.
- Take long deep breaths in between your work. It helps to take a break and get back to what you were doing.
- Involve yourself in hobbies which you like. Gardening, painting, listening to music or reading books helps to relax your mind
- A good body massage with herbal oil help to relax body and mind.
- Avoid smoking and drinking.
How do we manage our diet to aid stress relief according to Ayurveda ?
- Drink a glass of vegetable juice in early morning. Do not add sugar or salt to it. Remember to add a spoon of fresh ginger juice to it. This healthy drink helps to cleanse body and expel toxins.
- Drink plenty of water. It is important to stay hydrated. Try to cultivate the habit of drinking luke-warm water.
- Include fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet.
- Avoid deep fried foods and fast foods and excessive sweets
- Always consume light and nourishing foods like Khichdi , Yavagu (porridge), idli, etc which can be digested easily.
- Stay away from cold food stuff like ice creams, cold drinks etc.
Which ayurvedic medicines help in natural management of stress ?
Herbs such as Ashwagandha, bramhi / manduka parni (gotu kola), jatamamsi, shankhapushpi, nirgundi, tagara are known for their stress relieving properties. They can be used in form of capsules tea or syrup.
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