Stress has become an integral part of the modern human existence. To some extent, stress can be productive, but when in excess, it can be dangerous to the overall health of an individual. The negative effects of stress are not only physical, but it is equally damaging to the mental and emotional health. Thereby, you will have to adopt effective stress management methods. Ayurveda provides the natural and holistic approach to stress management.
What is stress?
Stress is the natural response of the human body to a situation of crisis or threat, and it is a part of survival instincts of a human being. This involves the release of stress hormones such as Cortisol that leads to allocation of a higher percentage of energy to the brain and large muscles to enhance the response time and speed. It also causes a lower urine production, slower digestion, inhibited inflammation and constraining the immune system.
A period of rest is needed post stress to allow the body to recuperate and recover. This period of rest has dwindled in our everyday lives because we come across ample opportunities to initiate the stress response such as handling your family affairs or everyday traffic or facing your boss. This results in a continuous production of stress hormones without the recovery period, leading to a myriad of ailments.
Stress according to Ayurveda
Ayurveda addresses every problem to the imbalance that occurs in the body. It uses twenty Gunas or qualities to identify and explain a bodily function. The Gunas are paired so that both are opposites, and they are divided into two categories
- Lightening, reducing, Catabolic - This includes Light, hot, rough, hard, subtle, clear, mobile, liquid, dry and sharp.
- Nourishing, Building, Anabolic - This includes the respective opposites such as Heavy, cool, smooth, soft, gross, cloudy, stable, dense, oily and slow.
Stress is characterized in the category of Lightning, reducing, Catabolic, so it activates the qualities listed in the former category. To restore the balance or distressing, one will have to focus on activities that come under the Nourishing, Building, Anabolic category.
Ayurvedic stress management
The Ayurvedic approach to stress management involves the following
- Controlling the pace of your life - Your fast paced lifestyle needs to be changed, and this slowing down is the initial step of Ayurvedic de-stressing.
- Taking out the time to self-care - The most important person in your life is you, and taking care of one's self is an integral part of Ayurvedic de-stressing. You need to spend time in self-caring activities like taking a Dosha based bath (using warm water for Pitta dominant person and hot water for Kapha and Vata dominant individuals), oil massage or Abhyanga, practicing Nasya or applying oil to nasal passage etc.
- Establishing and following a fixed routine - This helps in providing multiple reference point to your nervous system, and to relax as well as rejuvenate. An inclusion of exercises that suit your Prakriti or Constitution is highly beneficial.
- Chronic stress is the cause of a mental state that considers every situation as a matter of survival, and thereby, exponentially increasing the stress. To reset the mental state, Ayurveda suggests therapies like meditation, Pranayama, and Yoga.
- A healthy diet goes a long way towards restoring the balance in the body and thereby reducing stress.
- Various natural herbs like Gotu kola or Brahmi, Ashwagandha, etc are highly beneficial in de-stressing.
Ayurveda believes that only you can know what's best for you, so including changes that make you comfortable and relaxed is the best approach. You should be confident in the effectiveness of the Ayurvedic stress management activities and follow them religiously. The Ayurvedic approach of de-stressing will result in a stress-free and healthy body.