Stress is a common factor that affects your mental health. Stress plays a bigger role in our day-to-day life more than we think. Ayurveda provides a great perspective on stress management, but you have to know about the potential consequences of over-stress and human stress. Many factors lead to stress, and Ayurveda will help you to overcome that situation.
Stress is a universal element of human experience, and some people naturally have the ability to handle stress but not all of them. Too much tension will affect your physical, mental, and emotional health. For example, if you have a meeting in the office with your seniors, you may experience slight stress even when you’re sleeping or other free time.
How Stress works?
A human stress response is an evolutionary adaptation that came out with crises or issues. It occurs in response to natural disasters, war, emotional loss, or economic concerns.
Cortisol is a vital stress hormone that gets excess in the body’s nervous system and thus initiates a fight-or-flight (adrenaline) response. This hormone can travel throughout the body, and therefore the effects of cortisol are felt everywhere in the body.
Cortisol reallocates the resources to the body, and thus it provides more energy to the brain and larger muscles to increase the speed and response times. But, it also reduces the urine output, prevents inflammation, slows down the digestive process, and blocks the immune response.
Result of Excess Stress
If you are suffering from excess stress due to work or social pressure, most of your body systems get affected. Stress is a negative vibe that will affect your digestive system, cardiovascular system, musculoskeletal system, nervous system, reproductive system, and immune system.
Apart from body health, excess stress also significantly impacts your mental and emotional states, i.e., it may affect your relationships, bone health, and related issues such as teeth, hair, and nails. Stress acts against health, and it is a reason for a variety of ailments. If you find that you are stressed, then immediately have some supportive adjustments like yoga, meditation, etc.
Types of Stress
To create better stress management skills, you have to know about the various types of Stress. According to American Psychological Association, there are three types of Stress which are explained below.
- Acute Stress: It is the most common form of Stress. In small amounts, it will make you excited, but large amounts can make you feel tired.
- Episodic Acute Stress: It is a more consistent form of acute Stress. People who get affected by episodic acute Stress tend to be always in a rush, irritable, short-tempered, anxious, and disorganized. It is mainly due to the failing of interpersonal relationships with family members, friends, etc.
- Chronic Stress: Opposite of acute Stress, and it is not a bit exciting. It is the most destructive type of Stress, leading to lots of pressure in the mind and body, thus affecting the health conditions. It may be due to poverty, childhood trauma, failing marriages, the death of loved ones, etc.
Reason for Stress and Its Effects
There are many causes of Stress which are neatly listed below:
Stress affects many parts of our life and body. Some of the harmful effects of stress are:
- Chest aches
- Drug abuse
- Feeling irritable
- Lack of control
- Low self-worth
- Lack of energy
- Lack of focus
- Lack of immunity
- Lack of sexual desire
- Nervous behavior
- Racing thoughts
- Pessimistic thoughts
- Poor decision-making ability
- Shifts in appetite
- Stomach upset
Long-term Stress leads to several problems such as:
- Mental health gets affected due to depression or anxiety.
- Causes Cardiovascular problems such as heart diseases, high-pressure levels, heart attacks, and stroke.
- Sexual problems such as premature ejaculation and menstrual problems.
- Skin and hair-related problems such as acne or eczema.
- Gastrointestinal issues like gastritis or heartburn.
Ayurveda on Stress
Ayurveda helps to provide a clear path for healing the health issues of each individual. The fundamental principle of Ayurveda is that increasing the opposite property of a particular disease will balance the body and helps to get relief from that illness. Ayurveda depends on twenty qualities (gunas) which are then organized into ten pairs of opposites qualities that describe various phenomena in the world.
Ayurveda treats diseases by identifying the qualities, which is a reason for a particular imbalance or illness and then provides correct treatment with the opposite attribute foods or supplements. While filtering the stress response to its essential characteristics and understanding its qualities, we can gain knowledge about how to use those opposing qualities to balance it.
Based on ancient Ayurvedic texts, one category of ten gunas is said to be building, nourishing, and anabolic in nature. In contrast, the other ten gunas possess reducing, lightening, and catabolic properties. Here are the ten pairs of opposites:
The fight-or-flight response sends lots of energy to the brain and the larger muscle minimizes the activities such as digestion and the immune response. So, the stress response comes under the reducing, lightening, and catabolic category. It is activating, strengthening, motivating, mobilizing, and accelerating. So that it activates qualities (gunas) such as light, sharpness, hot, dry, rough, mobile, subtle, and clearness in the body.
Modern science says positive stress is an adrenaline rush, while negative stress is harmful. But Ayurveda has a different point of view, and it says that stress is also known as Sahas, which is the root cause of various diseases. Due to the reasons mentioned above, stress gets created for humans, which causes loss of immunity(Ojakhsaya) in the body and further leads to diseases.
Based on Ayurveda, Stress is related to three vital energies (doshas) in the body: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. The negative amount of stress depends on the imbalance of these doshas. Good health and positive amounts of stress can be achieved by balancing these doshas. However, each person has one of the doshas as dominant, which may define their personality.
These three doshas are essential to understand the reason behind your stress and to provide perfect stress management skills.
- Vata: Known for creativity, innovation, intuition, and quick-thinking. Vata dominant person will suffer from life changes which make you feel anxious or panicked. The increase in Vata dosha will make you go through fear, anxiety, insomnia, and isolation.
- Pitta: Known for competitive, confident, determined, and intelligent. Pitta-dominant people will be manifested through anger, irritability, and frustration. The symptoms of elevated Pitta are sweating, heartburn, diarrhea, and hypertension.
- Kapha: Known for strong, steady, reliable, and rooted. Kapha-dominant people are less flexible, stubborn in uncomfortable situations, which may lead to stress. Here, stress can be identified through eating, lack of motivation, and tiredness.
Depression – In Terms of Doshas
Based on Ayurveda point of view, depression can be explained as a Kapha imbalance. Initially, the brain’s electrochemistry has a fluctuating overreaction(indicates Vata imbalance), which stimulates a reduction of enzymatic activity in the metabolism (denotes pitta imbalance). Here, Kapha is increased to keep others down, which leads to heaviness, gloom, and stagnation. So, the mind considers it as the negative message of hopelessness and depression. Stress makes the human body suffer in many ways, from reproduction issues, heart attack, irregular periods, weak immunity system, and high blood glucose level.
Ayurveda said that stress management depends on the attainment of peace (Shanthi). Ayurveda did not see the body and mind as different entities but as reflections of each other. Because the physical health issues arise from the mind, and the result of mental disorder seen in the physical body.
According to Ayurveda, effective stress management lies in strengthening the adaptive power and treating the nervous system. Ayurvedic techniques are the best ancient stress busters technique, which helps to overcome anxiety or deal with stress. Instead of treating stress symptoms, Ayurveda finds a solution to the root problem.
Stress can be avoided by understanding the stress triggers and doshas. Apart from that, you can increase your body’s managing capability by providing natural remedies, correct dietary and drug treatments. This approach is known as Rasayana ( therapeutic process), which is classified into three.
- Acara Rasayana (Behavioral therapy for calming mind and long life): Balance the use of sense organs by routine such as yoga or meditation.
- Ajasrika Rasayana (Rasayana in the form of food): Nutritious and balanced dietary routine.
- Ausudha Rasayana (drug treatment).
STEPS TO BALANCE YOUR STRESS
Already, we have seen that the stress response has qualities such as reducing, lightening, and catabolic in nature. So, we have to give an antidote for stress to your body systems with heavy, nourishing qualities through our food, lifestyle, and practices.
Making your body heavy, soft, grounded, slow, unctuous, nourishing, and stabilizing will minimize the influence of their opposites qualities which is the reason for stress. The next portion is going to tell about the simple steps to reduce the effects of excess stress.
1] Enjoy your life with a proper Self-Care
Self-care is a beautiful and involved part of the healing process. No matter whatever happens in your life every day, a practice of self-care provides a deep commitment to yourself, wellness, and good health. Taking adequate rest and nourishing practices can help you to stay focused on the problems of the world around you.
In fact, there are numerous ways to nurture, relax, and care ourselves. This will provide a sense of grounding, warmth, relaxation, unctuousness, and stability for balancing excess stress. Here, it is important that you have to follow your intuition because no one knows about you better than yourself. In the below portion, we have mentioned the ways to get self-care. You can try it based on your interest. Best start with one or two new practices to get great relief and further you can add more.
- Take a Relaxed Bath
Usually, bathing relaxes your nervous system, releases tension from your muscles, and helps to calm down your mind. If you need, you can mix a cup of Ginger powder and baking soda into the bathing water for improving relaxation and healing process. This bathing mixture will enhance circulation, sweating, and the detoxification process. It also provides a soothing effect to keep you relaxed.
Pitta dominant people should remember that ginger and baking soda bathing mixture will increase internal body heat. Therefore, you should not stay in the bath for a long time. Epsom salt baths also make you feel very relaxing and cleansing.
Note: Use hot water for Kapha and Vata dominant, warm water for Pitta dosha.
- Drink Herbal Tea
Consuming herbal tea is the best way to slow down and reduce stress. Various Ayurvedic herbal teas are available in the market to improve your joy and peace. Tea prepared with herbal ingredients like hibiscus, rose, and tulsi will soothe and relax yourself. And, so consuming this tea will be helpful on stressful days.
Tea prepared with calming herbs like Brahmi, lavender, and chamomile will keep your nervous system calm. The useful properties of the Tulsi tea provide awareness, promote mental clarity, and make yourself peace.
- Do Oil Pulling
Swishing warm sesame oil, or coconut oil helps to decrease tension from the jaw. Apart from that, it will also enhance your sense of taste and remove toxins from the mouth, teeth, and gums, thus making your oral cavity healthier. You can gain a lot of heath benefits by maintaining oil pulling as a habit.
- Prefer Ayurvedic Oil Massage (Abhyanga)
The important thing in self-care is oil massage. This ancient practice of self-oil massage will relax the tension built-up in the nervous system, lubricate it, rejuvenate the tissues, and enhance healthy blood circulation in the body. In Sanskrit, the word oil means Sneha, which is also referred to as love.
Oil Massage is a practice of rejuvenation and self-care which will improve your physical body and brain health. Also, oil acts as a protective layer around the body when you roam under sunlight and improve the nervous system against stress. Before taking a bath, massage your body with about half a cup of warm oil such as coconut or sesame oil to get relief from stress.
- Practice Nasya
Applying medicinal oil to the nasal passages is defined as Nasya. It relaxes the fine tissues, enhances breathing, relieves accumulated stress, and improves mental clarity. Apply four to five drops of Nasya Oil every morning into your nasal passage.
Note: This practice should not be done while pregnant or during menstruation periods.
- Massage Your Feet
Just apply a few amounts of warm oil to your feet before sleep. Here, prefer using Sesame Oil, Coconut oil, Brahmi Oil, or Bhringraj Oil. This practice will ground the energy, relax the nervous system, decrease stress, calm your mind, and provide better sleep. Sleep is the main factor that is essential for rejuvenation and reducing stress.
- Spend Time with Nature
Simply exposing your body to the natural world will calm down your nervous systems. The natural sights, sounds, smells, climate, textures, and rhythms trigger the parasympathetic nervous system’s rest and digest capacity. Having a walk in the woods without slippers, sitting near the water, etc., will ground your body to the surface of the earth.
- Read an Inspiring Book
It is the best habit to deviate your mind from depression. An excellent inspirational story will calm the entire system and also rejuvenate it.
- Encouraging Supportive and Loving Relationships
Our body health gets enhanced in a good laugh, loving connection, hug, sympathetic ear, and other encouraging relational signs that support us. If you have funny motivating friends, close family members, or lovable pets, then be with them, they can help you in your most challenging situation and so your mind will be relaxed.
- Get Sufficient Rest
Sleep is an essential factor that may be the reason for stress. Having enough sleep will play a vital role in repairing and rejuvenating tissues in the brain and body. Further, it also allows you to remove metabolic wastes and natural toxins efficiently. It would help if you had a minimum of two hours of good sleep and relieves you from that stress.
2] Do your Daily Routine Properly
Ayurveda suggests a daily routine for everyone, but it is crucial in balancing excess stress. Prepare a daily routine like walking, exercising, eating, sleeping and follow it every day at the same time. So it’s better to maintain a daily activity schedule. This will create good vibes on the nervous system and reduce your stress level.
- Do Exercise
Doing exercise regularly will improve your overall health. It supports the mechanisms of rejuvenation such as adequate sleep, ability to relax, and provide a balance between sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.
It also ignites Agni – fire element, which improves digestion, detoxification mechanisms and provides a proper excretion process to avoid the effects of excess stress. If you are not a person who does exercise, remember that a good exercise program will improve your health. For example, 20 to 25 minutes of exercise will refresh your body, mind, and spirit.
3] Calm Mind-Body Organism
Ayurveda suggests that subtle therapies such as pranayama, yoga, and meditation effectively refresh your nervous system and provide a better physiological response to stress. There are lots of Ayurvedic herbs used to improve mental and nervous system health.
We cannot lead a life without stressful situations, but we can modify our capacity to adapt them. Here, we have to calm the nervous system and activate the human ability to reorganize the mind. However, the following therapeutic strategies will be useful to digest and release tension and provide better mental clarity.
Prana refers to the vital breath, which is the fine essence of the life force. It is present in every cell and tissue of our bodies. Inhaling prana restores vitality to the body’s energy channels and helps in digesting and eliminating food and toxins (Ama).
The best way to refresh our tissues is to practice yogic breathing exercises (pranayama). The regular practice of Nadi Shodhana is effective in removing accumulated tension, relieving stress, and providing an improved mental clarity.
Yoga aids in transporting prana throughout the body; thus reducing tension in the tissues and mental and emotional spheres. You can practice vata-pacifying, pitta-pacifying, and Kapha-pacifying yoga based on your dosha. But, considering the excess stress, vata and pitta-pacifying yoga routines are more useful.
Meditation helps us to tolerate stress by creating passive awareness, and it will give a better response in the stressful environment. Regular meditation will repattern the brain, and help in responding to the challenging environments.
4] Consume a Supportive Diet
Eating a balanced diet will not give an immense result in stress, but it provides nourishment and grounding. According to Ayurveda, you have to focus on healthy, whole foods; and you have to reduce the intake of processed foods, stimulants, and refined sugars.
- Take Supportive Herbs and Formulas
There are various herbs in Ayurveda that rejuvenate the mind and nervous system. The best herb choice for stress is Ashwagandha which aids the body in adapting stress and calming down the mind. It has adaptogenic properties, which provide good energy throughout the day and offers good night sleep. Another herb Brahmi is also an adaptogen that balances the nervous system and mind. It is a cooling pitta tonic that also calms vata in the brain.
Ayurveda is a comprehensive and individualized medicine system which is practiced over thousands of years in India. Here, Listening to your inner intuition when doing the mentioned process is crucial, and you can note the difference quickly. In Ayurveda, a slow and gradual approach is needed to treat stress efficiently.