Every wonder what Ayurveda says about stress?
In a way, this ancient “science of longevity” is all about preventing or undoing it – because stress imbalances the doshas and leads to disease.
According to the American Medical Association, stress contributes to over 75 percent of all illnesses today. Extensive medical research in the United States and other counties has linked stress to high blood pressure, heart disease, ulcers, insomnia, anxiety, depression, and even cancer. Although no one is immune to the effects of stress, we can take steps to keep our levels in check. Here are a few quick tips to help you relax and regroup when you days are overwhelming.
Food is medicine.
Food makes or breaks our mood.
According to Ayurveda, every taste of food has an emotional and physical effect on the body and mind. So during stressful times: Avoid hot spices, red cayenne and chili peppers, raw garlic, meat, cold and processed foods, sugar, alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, and other mood altering drugs.
Include fresh fruits and fruit juices, vegetables, and herbs such as cumin, coriander, ginger, saffron, nutmeg and cardamom.
Drink herbal teas such as chamomile, comfrey, and angelica 2 to 3 times a day.
A belly massage is an excellent way to reduce the effects of stress. The abdomen (the second and third chakras) is a major depository for toxins, since most of us hold un-expressed emotions in our guts. Abdominal massage as well as diet and regular exercise is also the easiest and healthiest method for toning and flattening the tummy. Simply massage it with oil twice a day – clockwise for one minute, then counterclockwise for another minute.
A mental fast
Give your mind a break for at least one hour a day with a few of these restful suggestions:
Avoid TVv, arguments, discussions, meetings, and lighten your schedule.
Enjoy some light reading, practice deep breathing from your naval, and take a leisurely walk.
Hold a baby, give or receive a massage, or hug a friend, nurturing touch can undo a days worth of tension and stress.
Take a warm bath with ginger tea.
Practice yoga and alternate nostril breathing daily.
Sleep well and meditate daily.
The bliss compress
Shirodhara is an ancient Ayurvedic treatment that balances the central nervous system, relieves mental tension, and induces a blissful state of mind. This is not a therapy that can be done easily at home, but you can enjoy some of the same effects by using an oil compress, or pichu. To make a pichu, soak the middle part of a folded cloth in a dosha-appropriate liquid.
When you’re ready, give yourself a neck, face and scalp massage with your dosha oil mix. Then lie down and apply the oil compress to the center of the forehead just above the brow line. Relax with your eyes closed for 10 minutes. If you like, dim the lights, listen to soft music, and burn incense to enhance the mood.
Choosing an oil
For Vata: 1 oz. warm sesame oil (excellent for warmth, hydration and nourishment)
For Pitta: ½ oz. cool milk + ½ oz coconut oil + 2 to 3 drops rose water (also good for cooling off in the summer)
For Kapha: ½ oz. warm sesame oil + ½ oz. ginger tea. (also good for relief of winter head colds or sinus conditions)
Note: To warm the oil, pour it into a plastic bottle and hold it under hot water for 2 to 3 minutes.