COUNTER STRESS WITH AYURVEDA
"Leave me alone! I need some time to myself!"
Do these words ring a bell? Do you feel those sudden panic attacks and frequent
headaches? Do you keep grinding your teeth in frustration or reach out for a cigarette,
again and again? Is all this affecting your work efficiency?
These are all tell-tale signs that you are stressed. The bills may keep pouring
in, the boss may keep calling when you least expect it and responsibilities at home
may get more demanding.
Stress is increasingly becoming a normal part of life. In some situations, it does
serve a useful purpose – like motivating you to seek a promotion at work or running
the last mile in a marathon. However, if it is not controlled at the right moment,
stress can cause havoc and hamper your work, family life and health.
Stress is your body’s normal response to events that threaten to disturb your balance
in some way. This is when the defence mechanisms of the body kick into a series
of automated responses, known as the stress response or the ‘flight or fight’ reaction.
What you can do to deal with stress is to take charge. Here is what you need to
know about stress, and simple ways to overcome it. Ayurveda brings you the natural,
effective way to stress relief.
The causes of stress may range from issues at work to issues in personal life such
as death of a loved one, illness or injury, emotional problems, traumatic events,
financial obligations, etc.
Stress brings about symptoms of weakness, hyperacidity and gassiness, and
irregular menses in women. Continued stress leads to several conditions such as
reduced immunity, heart disease, asthma, obesity, diabetes, headaches, depression
and anxiety, gastrointestinal problems, Alzheimer’s disease, ageing and even premature
Common signs and symptoms
Headaches, jaw pain, neck ache, back ache, muscle spasms, cold or sweaty hands and
feet, frequent colds, infections, stammering, frequent sighing, difficulty breathing,
panic attacks, palpitations, rapid pulse, anxiety, increased anger and frustration,
depression, frequent mood swings, changes in appetite and behaviour, insomnia, disturbing
dreams, difficulty in concentration, forgetfulness, feeling overfull, crying spells
or suicidal thoughts, feeling lonely, nervousness, overreacting, reduced work efficiency,
social withdrawal, weight gain or loss, increased smoking or alcohol use, constant
tiredness, weakness, fatigue
Coping with Stress, the Ayurveda Way
According to Ayurveda, stress occurs due to an imbalance in the three doshas – Vata,
Pita, and Kapha. Kapha imbalance is the culmination of the imbalance of Vata and
Pitta. An imbalance of the three doshas brings about feelings of anxiety, anger,
hopelessness and depression.
Treatment of stress with Ayurveda therapy is gentle, natural, and effective; and
has potential long-term benefits. Ayurveda provides a complete understanding of
the nature and causes of stress. Apart from increasing the balance in the body,
promoting higher levels of physiological health and well-being, it also raises an
individual’s inner contentment. Ayurveda recommends management of stress by lifestyle
management and Ayurvedic medication. Taking some simple measures in everyday life
can bring beneficial changes to health. These includes early rising, deep breathing
and relaxation techniques, cleaning the body using basic ingredients such as rose
water and essential oils, and inhaling medicinal herbs to purify the mind and body.
Oil massages and meditation also provide immense relief from stress symptoms.
Panchkarma therapy: This Ayurvedic therapy consists of five basic treatments
to flush out toxic material from the body. It includes Purvakarma (pre-purification
therapy with snehana and swedana; oil massage and medicated steam bath), Vamana
or emesis therapy, Virechana or purgation therapy, Nasya or administration of medicine
through the nose, and Basti or enema therapy.
Shirodhara therapy: A common form of Ayurvedic treatment, Shirodhara is known
to relax the nervous system. This is done by gently pouring oil on the forehead.
This makes the brain waves slow down, and more oxygen and other nutrients flow freely
to the brain. Thus, brain function is considerably enhanced. This procedure is also
known to improve stress bearing ability. Subsequent Shirodhara therapies further
calm the mind, and are beneficial to the body. Regular treatment improves blood
circulation, enhances memory, calms the body and mind, and improves sleep patterns.
Treatment is ideally complemented with certain types of meditation.
Tratak meditation Tratak is a form of meditation that involves gazing constantly
at a fixed object without blinking the eye. The object may be a candle flame, an
image or any form. The individual gazes at the object for a certain period of time,
and then closes the eyes to visualize the same object. This object is visualized
in the space between the eyebrows. The posture should strictly be meditative. This
form of meditation is known to calm down and bring the restless mind to a standstill,
and helps focus all energies on a single point. It improves the focus of the mind
and reduces stress. It is also helpful in individuals with disturbed sleep patterns
and enhances memory in children. Mental stress is also relieved.
Ashwagandha – The Wonder Herb
Botannically known as Withania somnifera, Ashwagandha is one among the most vital
herbs in Ayurveda. It has properties that effectively treat and cure mental and
physical stress. Since years, it has been recommended for its ability to soothe
stress, depression and anxiety. It is as effective as tranquilizers or anti-depressants
– yet without any side effects. Ashwagandha calms the nerves and protects the brain
Potential benefits of Ashwagandha are:
- Controlling everyday stress
- Improving physical stamina and mental alertness
- Improving immunity and acting as an anti-oxidant
- Improving interaction with friends and family
Apart from being the main stress buster,Ashwagandha
is always beneficial in treating symptoms that arise along with stress. Along with
Ashwagandha, other beneficial Ayurvedic medications can also be taken.
For general weakness
in women, it is recommended to take a composition of Dashmula Bilva
(Aegle marmelos), Shayonaka (Oroxylum indicum), Gambhari (Gmelina arborea), Patala
(Stereospermum suaveolens), Agnimantha (Premna integrifolia), Shalaprani (Desmodium
gangeticum), Prishniparni (Uraria picta), Brihati (Solanum indicum), Kantakari (Solanum
surattense), Gokshura (Tribulus terrestris)], Pushkara (Inula racemosa), Amalaki
(Emblica officinalis), Yashti (Glycyrrhiza glabra), Rasna (Pluchea lanceolata),
Pippali (Piper longum), Puga (Areca catechu), Haridra (Curcuma longa), Draksha (Vitis
vinifera), Shveta Chandana (Santalum album), Lavanga (Syzygium aromaticum), Nagakesara
(Mesua ferrea), Dhataki (Woodfordia fruticosa), Tvak (Cinnamomum zeylanicum), Sukshmaila
(Elettaria cardamomum), Tvakpatra (Cinnamomum tamala), Pippali (Piper longum), Madhu,
For symptoms of stress induced hyperacidity and gassiness, it is advisable to take
Pudina Satva, and lemon fizz containing proven ingredients like Sarjikshara and
Nimbu Satva. A composition of healing ingredients such as Trivirt, Bhringaraja,
Guduchi and Yashtimadhu can provide quick and effective relief from acidity and
For irregular menses
due to stress, a composition of Ashoka (Saraca asoca), Dhataki (Woodfordia
fruticosa), Musta (Cyperus rotundus), Utpala (Nymphaea stellata), Amalaki (Emblica
officinalis), Haritaki (Terminalia chebula), Bibhitaka (Terminalia belerica), Shveta
Chandana (Santalum album) and Shvetajiraka (Cuminum cyminum) is advised.
For reduced immunity, it is advisable to take Chyawanprash, a time-tested formulation
that has a number of herbs like Amla, one of the best antioxidants, Giloy (Guduchi),
known to have immune-modulatory properties, and 48 other trusted Ayurvedic ingredients
which boost immunity.
Foods that combat stress
Ginger helps in pain and stress relief.
Avocados help lower blood pressure and fight stress.
Broccoli relieves stress, anxiety and depression.
Spinach contains magnesium that is helpful in stressful conditions.
Almonds are an excellent source of selenium and help fight symptoms of stress, anxiety
and fatigue. So do walnuts.
Oranges are known to lower stress hormone levels.
Natural herbal remedies such as ginseng, oat straw tea, lemon balm tea, chamomile
tea, reishi mushrooms and gaurana provide relaxation benefits.
Dark chocolate is rich in flavonoids, and is known to relax the body.
Sunflower seeds are a good source of folate, and help produce the pleasure-inducing
brain chemical, dopamine.
Blueberries are rich in antioxidants that counteract the effects of the stress hormone,
Habits for a stress-free life
- Set aside relaxation time
- Exercise regularly
- Eat a healthy diet
- Get adequate sleep
- Listen to music
- De-stress with yoga and other breathing and relaxation techniques
- Do your favourite activity: reading even for 6 minutes can lower stress levels
- A short walk in the park can do wonders to help the brain recover from tension
- A power nap of 20 minutes will relieve stress and improve energy levels
- Enjoy a pure and natural diet and have a balanced meal
- Avoid alcohol, cigarettes and drugs
- Check your caffeine intake
- Keep away from stressful situations