Stress build-up in our brain can lower our immunity, increases our susceptibility to diseases, increases the levels of blood cholesterol and other lipids, exacerbates pain and increases the risk of death from cardiovascular diseases. Ayurveda advises us to follow Achara Rasayana (Code of good conduct) for a healthy and happy life. Effective management of stress is a way to healthy mental and physical health. One has to make changes in his daily routine and find time to practice the following Ayurvedic advises.
1. A night bath in warm water aids a good night and restful sleep.
2. Ritucharya (Seasonal regimen) – Our individual nature must also flow in harmony with nature and natural cycles of life. As the leaves and the trees change color in the fall and birds migrate to South in winters, they are innate organic calls to maintain balance. Simple seasonal adjustments to our routine play a critical role in maintaining health.
3. Exercise - Exercise is not only good for physical health, but is also good for recreation and relaxation of mind. It changes the levels of hormones in the blood and may elevate the mood affecting brain chemicals. Exercise should be done according to one’s strength. Walking, yoga, Indoor games, swimming, etc can be practiced.
4. Relaxation - It is very important to take short breaks from work and relax the mind. The Yoga posture Shavasana (dead body pose) is a simple way to relax. Lie down on your back with legs a bit apart and hands making a 15-degree angle with the body. Let each and every muscle of the body be relaxed. Close your eyes and focus your mind on your breathing. Breathe deep and watch your breathing in your mind. This posture can be done for five minutes once or twice a day.
5. Good sleep - A deep and long sleep is necessary. A proper sleep relaxes both body and the mind. It improves mood and recovers the ability of mind to deal with daily stress.
6. Listening to music - Listening music decrease blood pressure, heart rate, and anxiety levels. It is also good to reduce stress for a healthy fellow as well as a stressed and anxious one.
7. Self massage of the body (with oils that mitigate vata or aroma oil) and a gentle massage on the head (with or without oil).
8. Spending time with family and friends – Spending time with near and dear ones works as a great trauma barrier.
9. Take a break from routine work and spend some time close to nature. Avoid all situations, which are source of stress in the home and office
10. Replace unnecessary time-consuming chores with pleasurable or interesting activities. Make time for recreation. This is as essential as paying bills or shopping for groceries. Keep on learning something new all the times.
Home remedies are used in order to provide with self-care, which is beneficial for both body and mind. Some of the effective home remedies are as follows.
1. Pleasing odors of cardamom calm down emotions, rage and depression. A cup of cardamom tea has a great effect when the mind is restless.
2. A combination of 1/8th tsp. of nutmeg powder and Indian gooseberry juice can light up the spirit.
3. Rose petals immersed in lukewarm water are an effective mood-enlivening tonic.
4. Almond, milk, saffron, ginger and nutmeg mixed help calm down the mind from stress.
5. Add 1⁄2 tsp. of Valerian (Tagar) and Nutgrass (Musta) into a cup of warm water and take it. It helps in lowering fear and stress.
Importance of Diet
The Upanishad’s state the food that is eaten is divided threefold. The gross part becomes excrement. The middle part becomes flesh. The subtle part becomes the mind. It has been rightly said we are what we eat which clearly implies that our food patterns and dietary habits not only govern our body but also our thinking processes. What we eat affects our emotions and can create a predisposition for both psychological and physical disorders. Mind stays healthy only when body is healthy and vice versa. So in order to keep mind and body in a healthy state our diet must be Sattvic. Regular and timely meals should be taken. Over eating and fasting should be avoided. Ayurveda diet emphasizes on eating a health diet, which helps to maintain balance in doshas. It is not mathematical. It is about eating in moderation, the right diet that is conducive to health. Frozen food should be avoided. Freshly prepared warm meals are advisable to be taken always. Refined sugars, sweets, chocolates, stimulants, caffeine, coffee, tea, cold drinks and foods, carbonated beverages, preserved food, fried or overcooked food, strong spices, excessively spicy food should be avoided. They interfere not only with the normal functioning of the body organs but also disturb our mental faculties, derange our emotions and thoughts. Ghee, cooked vegetables, fresh fruits, fresh warming spices – Ginger, saffron, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, asafetida; yoghurt, milk, dry fruits soaked in water overnight, Almonds after peeling off skin, Vitamins B1 foods – Asparagus, Soy milk, Barley, Oats, Wheat, Sunflower seeds; Vitamin B6 foods – Sweet potatoes, Avocadoes, Bananas, Mangoes.
Avoid going very late to bed at night or staying awake at night, over work, abuse, social isolation, self destructive behavior, negative thinking, alcohol, smoking and tobacco. Sleep for 8 hours at night. Go to bed early and wake up early. Practice pranayama or focused breathing exercise, yoga and meditation. Go for walking and be physically active all through the day. Listen to soft music at night. Organize your work and keep up with your tasks. It will ease off burdens.