An Ayurvedic view of stress
Stress is an all too common fact of life in todayÂ?s world. If unchecked, it can lead to hypertension, heart disease, ulcers, migraines and arthritis among other diseases. Initially it can manifest as insomnia, irritability, digestive disorders, exhaustion, weight gain or loss, pain, anxiety, depression, anger, hopelessness or despair.
The body responds to stress by adrenaline production, creating the fight or flight response. The adrenal glands are overworked producing too much of the hormone due to constant stressors in our lives. Stress is cumulative and smoking, coffee, eating too much or not at all, having a drink after work which we sometimes us as props to keep us going add to what the body / mind has to cope with.
Ayurveda views stress as: mental, emotional, physical and looks at how the individual responds to it. Each individual is unique; one personÂ?s stressor is anotherÂ?s motivator. As well as physical doshas (vata, pitta, kapha), Ayurveda considers the mental doshas also (rajas and tamas). Stress affects the balance of rajas and tamas in the mind which if left unchecked will lead to imbalance in the physical tridosha. Maintaining a balance of the tridosha in modern life is like steering a boat by rudder Â? you need to constantly be aware and making minor adjustments.
An Ayurvedic treatment approach to stress is completely tailored to the individual, their constitution and imbalance of the particular dosha. A treatment plan would include diet and lifestyle advice, herbs to deal with the particular dosha, massage therapy, yoga and relaxation techniques / meditation.
Some stress busting ideas:
v Communicate Â? talk to someone. Sometimes just voicing what is going on in our lives can release some pressure.
v Meditate Â? to bring awareness of what is going on in mind and body and encourage mental rest.
v Make a list and prioritise your tasks. Start the day with a couple of easy and quick tasks to tick off the list. Its amazing how much energy those simple little things you put off doing can use up.
v Pause at intervals during the day to bring your awareness to your breath. How are you breathing? Take a few conscious deep breaths.
v Eat! DonÂ?t skip meals; it is vata aggravating which is the dosha which governs your nervous system. Avoid overeating also as this will impair your digestion, slow you down and muddle your thinking making you less effective. Eat fresh food for your constitution at appropriate times and avoid refined, processed and ready made food.
v Exercise Â? to release built up tension and remove stress hormones. Yoga is a great way to exercise as it works your body and mind.
v Relax Â? properly. Meditation allows the mind to slow down and helps you to become aware of your thoughts. It helps to bring some perspective on your day.
v Cultivate awareness Â? be aware of what is causing stress in your life, how you are responding to it and hopefully you will be able to deal with it before it becomes detrimental to your health.
Focus on a herb: ashwagandha
Ashwagandha is nervine tonic and aphrodisiac. It strengthens and nourished the nervous system promoting calm when the nerves are frazzled and there is anxiety and insomnia and a feeling of emotional imstability. Being an adaptogen, it also energises when the system in under stimulated. As a single herb, ashwagandha is recommended only for vata and kapha types. However used in a formula it is appropriate for pitta types also.
Start a self massage practice. Oil massage is one of the best ways of calming vata, the dosha linked with the nervous system. If you donÂ?t have the time to do full oil massage, then massaging the soles of the feet before you go to bed will help balance vata and help to promote quality sleep.
JoanieÂ?s Ayurvedic practice, Sankalpa, is based at Chiswell Studios in Moorgate EC1.
For further information visit: www.sankalpa.eu.com
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