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COUNTER STRESS WITH AYURVEDA

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 death.

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 from deterioration.

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, etc.

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 gassiness.

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, cortisol.

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

 

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