The importance of harmony and mental equilibrium was well recognized by early Ayurvedic sages over two thousand years ago. Although chronic stress and anxiety may have had low prevalence in ancient India, grief and tragedy are an inescapable reality of the human condition. Thus, ancient Ayurvedic physicians were no strangers to depression, stress, and anxiety.
Stress in Ayurveda is viewed as a nervous system disturbance. The roots of this disturbance are found in the balance of natural energy or doshas that govern our physical and psychological traits. As vata plays a critical role in regulating the nervous system, it is imperative to understand your individual prakriti or balance of doshas to effectively manage stress.
By and large, however, such disorders may be linked to a vitiation or aggravation of vata. This can be caused through high exposure to sensory stimulation, such as overeating, inadequate rest, and overworking.
It should be noted that although vata imbalances are commonly to blame for stress and anxiety, pitta and kapha doshas can also play a role depending on the individual’s constitution. While vata-dominant dosha types are most vulnerable to stress disorders, such as anxiety and fear, pitta types are more likely to manifest stress in angry outbursts and impulsive behaviour. Kapha types tend to manifest stress disorders in increased sluggishness, lethargy, and a general loss of interest in activities. These changes also give rise to physical ailments, with a greater likelihood of hypertension, high blood sugar levels, slow metabolism and chronic gastrointestinal conditions.
Here are some ancient solutions for modern-day stress
Based on the Ayurvedic insights into stress and anxiety disorders, the first step would be to identify the dosha type and strengthen that natural balance. This can be achieved through the adoption of the right diet, exercise routine, and Ayurvedic rituals. While it is important that you seek personalized recommendations, here are some broader Ayurvedic recommendations for managing stress and anxiety that can help:
1. Pamper yourself with a rejuvenating Ayurvedic head massage
Ayurvedic Head massage is an ancient technique to alleviate stress and calm the mind. It involves massaging the pressure points with circular strokes that focus on your head and neck regions.
This ancient but effective technique promotes sleep, enhances the circulation of blood to the mind, and improves scalp and hair conditions. An Ayurvedic head massage also uses natural and warm oils like narayan taila and brahmi oil. These Ayurvedic oils settle the vitiated Vata in the body.
Slightly warm the oil and massage it onto your head, shoulder, and neck regions before going to bed to relieve stress and promote sound sleep.
2. Engage your feel-good hormones with delicious stress-relieving foods
Eating the right foods at the right time plays a significant role in controlling your hormones. Following a healthy diet not only keeps your weight in check but also manages your state of mind. Including a diet rich in vitamin C and B, omega 3s, and magnesium helps reduce stress and deflect burnouts.
A bowl of warm oatmeal, wholewheat bread and pasta, cereals, oranges, spinach, avocado, pistachios, almonds, vegetables, and black tea are food items to eat every day. These boost the serotonin levels and tame the release of cortisol and stress hormones. In all, avoid sugar, alcohol, and caffeine-rich foods.
3. Experience the magic of Ayurvedic herbs
Ayurveda suggests using medicinal herbs to fight the disorder naturally. Herbs like tulsi, ginger, ashwagandha, brahmi, and jatamansi are adaptogenic and offer neuro-protective benefits. Ashwagandha and brahmi are ancient treasures of nature that lower cortisol levels and enhance cognitive abilities. These herbs provide a calming effect on the nervous system and modulate the stress response.
4. De-stress with yoga
Ayurveda and yoga go hand in hand. In Ayurveda, we believe in a holistic lifestyle thus, exercising or indulging in any form of physical training expands the capacities and enhances the process of circulation of nutrients in the tissues. Yoga is the most ancient and natural form of exercise that not only activates the muscles but also rejuvenates and relaxes the mind from stress and tension.
We truly hope that through this article you have been able to get a basic understanding of Ayurveda’s approach to stress and anxiety. Remember that chronic stress and anxiety disorders are diseases that can have a cascading effect on both physical and mental health. If your problem is severe and does not respond to generalized treatments, it is important that you seek help from a qualified professional.