Stress, the word is highly subjective and affects everyone differently. In a wide spectrum, it has more to do with what happens within you than with you. It is a result of a physical, mental, or physiological stimulus within the body. It is the deterioration that our mind and body go through as we experience various changes in our environment.
The body undergoes chemical changes as one experiences stress. The adrenaline release causes an increase in the heart, gushing the blood pressure and elevating energy supplies. The primary stress hormone, Cortisol, shoots up the glucose levels in the bloodstream and can cause
- rapid weight gain mainly in the face, chest and abdomen
- high blood pressure
- bruises and purple stretch marks
- muscle weakness
- mood swings
- increased thirst
Put scientifically, stress is anything that originates from a threat, real or imaginary. It is the body’s self-made defense system that is released in the form of a chemical or hormonal rush that determines whether we fight the situation or freeze up.
Lou Holtz puts all this in simple words
“It’s not the load that breaks you, it’s the way you carry it.”
Stress can exist unknowingly within us in various forms. It not only affects the state of mind but also controls the body and what it feels. Many symptoms have stress written all over them such as
- Feeling angry and grumpy
- Keeping away
- Loss of control
- Undermining self-worth
- Low energy levels and immunity
- Frequent headache and chest ache
- Insomnia and upset stomach and shifts in appetite
- Constant worrying, lack of focus, and forgetfulness
- Poor decision making
- Sprinting pessimistic thoughts
- Unexplained delaying
- Jumpy behaviour
The list is endless. Watching out for these symptoms and addressing stress is extremely important. Leaving it ignored and abandoned for a long time can have lasting repercussions on the mental and physical well-being as well as on personal relationships. A long-term relationship with stress can almost disrupt the entire body’s processes, opening doors for many ailments such as
- Scars the mental health with depression and anxiety
- Invites cardiovascular diseases, particularly blood pressure
- Irregulates the digestive system causing issues like heartburn
- Sudden weight gain
- Causes sexual problems like premature ejaculation in men and menstrual trouble in women
- Results in skin and hair problems like eczema and acne
Types of Stress & Stressors
The first step towards a stress management program is to recognize the type of stress that you are dealing with. It is important to understand the stressor to reach the root of it. A stressor is a provocation of the stress response in our body. They can be categorized as acute, episodic acute, or chronic, and internal or external.
Acute stress: Most commonly found, acute stress on a lower degree is found thrilling. But the same, when found at a larger rate can be tiresome and exhausting. For eg. A missed deadline clubbed with an unfortunate accident or mishap can cause acute stress.
Episodic acute stress: When acute stress remains unattended for a long time it becomes Episodic Acute Stress. Generally, the ones facing it are often in a rush, poor at management, always furious, impatient, worried, and grumpy. Their social and personal relationships with friends, family, and colleagues are always falling apart.
Chronic stress: Chronic stress is the most damaging form of stress. It puts a badgering weight on the mind, and the body, severely impacting the well-being of a person. This kind of stress is triggered by unfortunate events like a bad childhood, poverty, broken marriage, child loss, etc.
- Physical issues such as chronic illness
- Relationships falling apart
- Monetary issues such as loans
- Life-altering events like losing a loved one, moving cities or homes, etc.
- Social issues such as tedious and long work hours, mental abuse, or harassment
- Traumatically scarring incidents like rape, domestic violence, drug abuse, war, accident, etc.
- Fright and unpredictability
- Feeling dejected with gloomy thoughts
- Inflexible attitudes and approach
- Irrational expectations
- My way or the highway mentality
What Ayurveda Says About Stress
Modern science considers positive stress to be an adrenaline rush and negative stress to be harmful, Ayurveda explains otherwise. According to Ayurveda, Sahas, or stress as we know it, is the origin of various diseases. There can be various reasons that can result in stress-causing loss of immunity in the body, also known as Ojakhsaya, allowing diseases to enter the body. The amount of negative stress in the body is directly proportional to an imbalance in the three doshas: Vatta, Pitta, and Kapha. To keep up the good health and good stress, it is important to keep these doshas in check.
These doshas play a key role in understanding what triggers the stress. Ayurveda recognizes two ways that help with stress management. One where it works on increasing the coping mechanism of the body and two where you avoid the triggers that induce stress and cause an imbalance in the doshas. The first one though unavoidable due to the cutthroat race that we are part of can be dealt with by increasing the body’s capacity to take the stress. Here it focuses on bringing harmony between the three main mental functions: Dhi (learning), Dhriti (retention) & Smriti(Long term memory), and Ojas(energy). Hence, there are many stress management programs that equip and educate about the right and healthy ways to deal with stress.
It is important to bring about a healthy change in the lifestyle using natural cures, improved eating habits, and medication. This way of dealing is called Rasayana and it has three types:
- Acara Rasayana means including yoga or meditation to ensure balanced use of the sense organs.
- Ajasrika Rasayana means to include a balanced, healthy, and nutritious diet.
- Ausudha Rasayana means a systematic treatment using medications that can only be done after following the former two thoroughly.
It is ideal to understand the stressors or triggers and also the doshas to start dealing with them. Only after knowing the kind of stress, an ideal stress management program can be ruled out. Modern science and Ayurveda have completely different ways of handling it. According to Ayurveda, the best way towards stress management is to attain Shanthi (peace). In Ayurveda, the mind and the body are the same entities that reflect upon each other. A healthy mind leads to a healthy body and vice versa. Like any other ailment, this too is dealt with from its roots. It is the cause that Ayurveda goes after not the effect.
The program seeks to relieve the stress, also the one which has been accumulated over years. It balances the hormones and reinforces mental strength that helps to deal better with the stress in the future.
7-28 Days Stress Management Ayurvedic Program
Stress management or relieving therapy is ideally a 7 days program but can also go up to 28 days based on the requirements of the patient. It is not just the treatment but an introduction to change in the way of life. Along with the therapies, stress management requires a holistic change in lifestyle including diet. Practising meditation, yoga (pranayama) and a proper diet helps the brain and the nerves to release stress. There are four stages of this program.
Stage 1: To ease off the stress from various organs in the Physical body from the roots.
Stage 2: To boost the Cardio-respiratory system (Blood circulation and Lung role).
Stage 3: To align the Nervous system and Nadis in the Pranic body.
Stage 4: To bring balance in the Endocrine glands bringing a hormonal balance as it is closely associated with the emotional balance of the mind.
An Ayurvedic stress management or relieving program offers therapies under it. Each therapy has a desired outcome and all of them collectively come together to reduce the stress levels from the grass root levels. A 7-14 day program may include various therapies such as:
- Shirodhara: To reduce the stress hormones
- Shiro abhyanga: To curb stress in the head, neck, and shoulders
- Shirovasti: Actively releases migraines, and reduces stress
- Swedana: Unhooks the toxins through stress therapy
- Pizichil: Tones the muscles with the help of an oil bath
- Thalam: Relaxes the nerves
- Thalapothichil: Nurtures the nervous tissues
- Njavarkizhi: A full-body, stress-relieving massage
- Elakizhi: Therapeutic massage using warm pouches and herbs massage
- Abhyanga: Rejuvenates the body through warm-oil massage
These treatments that are offered may vary according to many factors like requirements, age, previous ailments, and bodily restrictions, etc. If during the basic inspection, in case there are high amounts of toxins traced in the patient’s body, the first treatment detoxification treatment called Panchakarma is recommended before a stress management treatment can begin.
These treatments prove a lot more effective when fused with clean eating, yoga, meditation, and a relaxed environment like one in the lap of mother nature provided at the Ayurvedic centres.
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Frequently Ask Questions About Stress
Is there any medicine for anxiety in Ayurveda?
Ayurveda has a lot of preparations which helps to get relief from stress. A proper Ayurvedic assessment is required before fixing the accurate medicine or group of medicines for an individual. In general, stress can be managed with the help of medication, diet regime and Ayurvedic treatments. For long term stress management medications/herbs like Brahmi, Brahmi gritham or Grutham, Manasamithram vatakam or Gulika and Saraswatharistam can be used.
Answered by Dr Varun Ram Raj
Is Ayurveda good for anxiety?
Yes, Ayurveda is highly beneficial in the management of anxiety. Ayurveda has internal as well as external measures for managing anxiety. The internal measures include a wide range of medications like Brahmi churna, Saraswat churna etc. In case of anxiety, external procedures are also equally important for attaining fast benefit. The procedures like Sirodhara, Sirovasthi and Siro Abhyanga are highly recommended. Nasyam and Dhoomapanam with the herbal combinations helps in stimulating the central nervous system activity and is recommended for fast relief from stress and anxiety.
Answered by Dr Varun Ram Raj
How can I reduce my Vata immediately?
Vata can be reduced by adding hot temperature externally or internally. In case of external measures, hot bags with bearable temperature can be applied on required areas. In case of internal purpose, the oils like sesame can be consumed.
Sesame oil is having a heating effect and it will reduce the increased Vata dosha. The tastes like sweet, salt and sour also reduces Vata dosha. Adding the above mentioned tastes in required quantities regularly will reduce Vata dosha. Reducing work loads, avoiding excess travel, avoiding strenuous activities and maintaining a proper schedule for all activities will also help in maintaining the Vata dosha in a balanced state.
Answered by Dr Varun Ram Raj
What should Vata eat for breakfast?
People with Vatta can begin their day by eating grounding, nourishing fats, like oatmeal cooked with ghee. Another option is to eat a roasted sweet potato with cinnamon, coconut yogurt, and sunflower seed butter for breakfast.
There is a list of items that they should avoid eating like artichokes, bitter melon, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots (raw), bell peppers, cauliflower, celery, chilies, eggplant, corn, dandelion (green), kale, lettuce, mushroom, olive (green), potato (white), radish, spinach (raw), sprout, tomato, and turnip.
What is the best natural stress reliever?
Regular exercise, practising yoga, and pranayama can prove to be natural stress relievers.
**The benefits of Ayurveda vary from person to person and the results may vary immensely based on the quality of the herbs, oil concoctions and medicines. BalanceBoat.com is not responsible or liable for the effectiveness and outcome of the Ayurvedic treatments. The information above is shareable purely for educational purpose it is not to be considered as a replacement for medical advice. Please always consult a certified specialist/Doctor before you embark upon a treatment.