Ayurveda for Stress

by in Ayurvedic Medicine, Healthy Therapies July 9, 2022

According to Ayurveda, physical and mental stress is one of the prime reasons for a host of health, social, economic, family and relationship problems. Ayurveda understands that stress is the root cause of several diseases. When stress is created, it leads to a loss of immunity in the body, rendering it susceptible to diseases. According to Ayurveda, stress is closely related to the three doshas, vata, pitta and kapha. The amount of negative stress depends on the proper balance of these doshas. To maintain good health and positive amounts of stress, it’s important to fine tune these doshas to be in perfect balance. Every person has one of these dominant doshas in them that defines their personality.

These doshas are the key to understanding the triggers behind your stress and adopt the right stress management skills to fight them. Let’s look at these doshas in detail.

Vata – This dosha is all about quick-thinking, creativity, innovation, and intuition. If this is the dominant dosha in you, then you may be prone to life changes that can make you feel anxious or panicked. An increase in this dosha will manifest itself through fear, anxiety, insomnia, isolation, etc.

Pitta –This dosha can be described as determined, intelligent, competitive, and confident. It can be manifested through irritability, frustration, and anger. The symptoms of triggers in pitta can include sweating, heartburn, diarrhoea, and hypertension.

Kapha – This dosha is known for being strong, steady, reliable and rooted. Kapha dominant people can be resistant to change and are less flexible and more stubborn in uncomfortable situations which can create stress. The stress can be manifested through comfort eating, lack of motivation, tiredness, etc.’

Ayurveda states that ‘stress affects the entirety of the human body in several ways ranging from fertility issues, heart attack, irregular periods, weak immunity and high blood sugar among other complications.

Ayurveda’s approach to stress management lies in the attainment of peace. Therefore, the key to effective stress management as per Ayurveda lies in treating the nervous system. Ayurvedic techniques are one of the most ancient stress busters known to exist. It helps answer important questions such as how to overcome anxiety or how to deal with stress. As they say, prevention is better than cure. This is the exact approach that Ayurveda follows. Instead of trying to fix stress or anxiety symptoms, it tries to find a solution to the root cause.

According to Ayurveda, the key to effective stress management lies in trying to avoid stress and strengthening the body’s adaptive power to deal with stress. The best way to avoid stress is by having a thorough understanding of your stress triggers and doshas. The second option can be achieved through lifestyle modifying natural remedies, dietary changes, and lastly, drug treatments.

There are several relaxation techniques that can be adapted to relieve stress and anxiety in day-to-day life.

Here are five stress management techniques that can help in coping with stress and offer some stress relief to you.

Lifestyle changes- Making slight lifestyle changes can go a long way in reducing the symptoms and helping you lead a balanced life.

Sleep– One of the major factors that can cause stress is lack of sleep. Sleep helps recharge your body and mind. Lack of sleep can severely affect your body and mind. But sometimes it becomes a viscous circle since stress prevents you from falling asleep and lack of sleep causes stress. In this case, you can practice some stress reduction techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, avoiding phone screens, a hot shower before sleep etc.

Laugh– Laughing makes you feel light and helps in managing anxiety. When you laugh, your face muscles hurt, eyes water and belly aches. This is a great stress-relieving response. Scientifically, laughter helps reduce the serum levels of cortisol, the body’s primary stress hormone, and releases endorphins, the body’s chemicals to help deal with stress. There are several ways you can induce laughter in your daily routine such as being around funny friends or watching funny YouTube videos.

Slow down-Most of us live a fast passed life, which leads to stress. Switching over to a slower, more balanced way of living can be an effective solution to this. Since many of us are used to a fast-paced life, slowing down can seem scary or impossible. You can make this overwhelming task easy by taking small steps or tweaking small things in your lifestyle one by one. Over a period, you will be able to successfully adopt a slower lifestyle. You can start by slowly reducing the number of activities in a day, taking breaks in between tasks, or trying to introduce some new activity to break the routine. Being more conscious and immersed in your daily activities can also help slow things down for you and feel calmer.

Socialize – Human beings are social. Being alone can trigger stress and anxiety responses. Having healthy communication and interactions with people will help you feel relaxed. Research has shown that increased interactions with friends and family lead to reduced signs of stress and anxiety. Being part of a close-knit network can bring about a sense of belonging and self-worth. Face to face communication also helps release oxytocin, a natural stress-reliever. Physical bonding here seems to have a greater effect than digital communication such as email, text or social media.

Music Therapy- Music therapy has been practiced since time immemorial as a means of providing mental harmony. Early Greek physicians used to rely on vibration for curing digestion, mental problems and inducing sleep. Music is considered to play a major role in providing personal motivation and concentration. It also helps in healing major illnesses such as Alzheimer’s, PTSD, heart problems and depression.

Exercise- Exercise acts as one of the best natural stress management techniques that most physicians and therapists use. Exercise can help to overcome anxiety in the following ways: by reducing stress hormones such as cortisol and releasing endorphins, by improving the quality of sleep and by promoting mental-being, instilling confidence and infusing positivity.

Meditation for Stress- Meditation is one of the most ancient methods of reaching mental harmony. It helps to restore inner peace and is extremely easy to practice. Presently, meditation is one of the best mind relaxation techniques that help in attaining tranquility. Since you focus your mind entirely during meditation, it helps to do away with all the troubling thoughts that cause stress and provide emotional and physical well-being. There are various types of meditation techniques that you can practice: guided meditation, mantra meditation, transcendental meditation, mindfulness meditation, abhyanga, shirodhara and shirovasti.

Yoga for Stress and Anxiety Relief- When it comes to Ayurvedic tips for mental health, yoga is one of the most talked about solutions. The role of yoga in stress management is truly undisputable. It is a form of movement meditation that involves physical postures, controlled breathing, and relaxation to help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. There are many forms of yoga of which Hatha Yoga is generally considered to be ideal for stress management due to its slow and easy movements.

The three basic activities in yoga are: asanas- also known as postures, these are movements that involve various stretching and relaxed movements to increase your strength and flexibility, breathing-controlled breathing helps in calming the mind and controlling your body movements, relaxation-helps in becoming more mindful and conscious.

Most physicians and therapists recommend yoga for stress management and relaxation, and it is one of the natural cures for anxiety. There are several benefits of choosing yoga for stress-relief: Fitness-yoga doesn’t just help in relieving stress but also provides improved fitness, flexibility, and strength. Chronic illnesses- Yoga also helps reduce the chances of chronic disease, high blood pressure, depression, and insomnia.

Diet for Stress: Your diet can also be a major cause of stress. For example, if your diet contains too much sugar or caffeine, then it can cause a lot of stress. Controlling your diet, thus, is important to reduce stress and anxiety. Here are some food items and Ayurvedic herbs that can help you achieve this:

  • Brown rice -It’s more nutritious than white rice and can help calm the Vata and Kapha. Brown rice contains antioxidants and essential amino acids that offer stress relief. It also contains serotonin that acts as a natural calmative and helps uplift your mood.
  • Green Tea- Green Tea has many benefits. It’s an anti-inflammatory antioxidant, and digestive beverage. Research states that drinking five or more cups of green tea can help reduce anxiety by 20%. Green tea contains theanine which has several therapeutic benefits, including reducing migraines.
  • Tulsi Tea- Tulsi (also known as Holy Basil) Tea is known in India for its rich antioxidant and apoptogenic properties, that are known to promote wellness by building the body’s immune system, reducing stress and promoting mental clarity. As per studies, Tulsi Tea helps in maintaining the level of cortisol hormone in the body which is also known as the stress hormone. Tulsi tea lowers the levels of cortisol, which may reduce your overall stress as well as anxiety.
  • Almonds- You can also go for nuts such as almonds which offer magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamin E. They help calm Vata and Pitta. They are rich in antioxidants and help in relaxing muscles. The contain oil and nutrition such as protein and fats.
  • Orange-Orange is a nutrition-rich detoxifier which helps pacify the Vata and Kapha and reduces blood pressure. It contains Vitamin C, which helps in reducing the cortisol secretion, thus reducing stress.
  • Ashwagandha: This is an ancient medicinal herb with multiple possible health benefits. Studies suggest it may help to reduce anxiety and stress, support restful sleep and even improve cognitive functioning in certain populations. It is considered relatively safe for most people.
  • Brahmi is another ancient Ayurvedic herb. It is believed to be useful in managing anxiety due to its anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) property. It may reduce the symptoms of anxiety and mental fatigue while increasing memory span. Brahmi may also prevent neuroinflammation (inflammation of the nervous tissue) which is responsible for anxiety.
  • Ayurvedic Medicines: There are several Ayurvedic medicines for stress and anxiety. These include Chyawanprash, Ashwagandha Avaleha, Kapikacchu and Cowitch.
About Ciara Ryan
I am a certified Hatha/Vinyasa and Yin Yoga teacher and an Ayurvedic Lifestyle Consultant based in the South East of Ireland. I teach weekly yoga classes and I offer Lifestyle Consultations and a range of authentic Ayurvedic therapies to my clients.