Health and Ayurveda

Thursday, January 24, 2008

STRESS MANAGEMNET: An Ayurvedic Perspective

Stress is a demanding situation where an individual is struggling to cope-up to the expectation. It can be psychological, financial emotional, social, biological or constitutional. A highly efficient or capable individual may also be stressed if the situation demands more than his limits. Stress essentially originates at the level of mind and emotions and percolates down bringing imbalances at physical body level.

Continuous long time stress leads to a breakdown of the system resulting in various mental and physical health problems. Unless the imbalances are corrected at all levels there is no escape from the stress and its hazards. Ayurvedic sages like Charaka and Susruta were royal physicians and there are references in the classics written by them of special therapies and herbal preparations called Rasayanas given to enhance the physical and mental efficiency.

Modern age fast life is exciting as well as overtaxing. So the level of stress is also high lots high and lots of people are suffering from its hazards. Stress can cause various mental and physical health problems that manifest in different ways. It may appear as excessive hunger leading to overeating where in some people it cause lack of appetite or anorexia. Stiffness of neck and shoulders, headache, lower back pain, vision problems, irregular bowels, hyperacidity, extreme tiredness are some of the physical manifestations of stress.

Mental manifestations include high irritability; sleep disorders, nervousness, lethargy, giddiness, vertigo, laziness, abnormal dreams, etc. It is observed that a group of people having same nature of work in the same atmosphere probably with same stress level develops different symptoms. The above study reveals the need of considering each individual as a particular entity and the management should also be personalized. Every being has resources to make him capable to cope with these conditions. The holistic approach of Ayurveda and Yoga tackles these hazards through multidimensional solution in its own natural way. It focuses on the impact of the mind on body are not two independent units and any problem affecting the mind affects the body. Since life is a combination of Sareera, (physical body), Indriya (Sense organs), Sathwam (mind) and Athma (soul), all the aspects of life should be considered during assessment of any health condition and its treatment. An individual assessment and management would be ideal for stress that manifest as mentioned above.

Ayurveda believes that there are only two controllable factors for health and disease – Ahara (food) and Vihara (life style). Life style means the routines including sleeping pattern, exercises, nature of work, habits, bath, etc. Food and routines planned according to the individual constitution (prakruthi) and health status help to prevent possible health problems and to improve the sense of well-being.

Carefully planned programme with traditional Ayurvedic therapies, Rasayanas, Yoga, Pranayama and Meditation in combination with planned food and routines will definitely help to overcome the stress, rejuvenate oneself and to build up self confidence to face any situation. Therapies such as Abhyanga (Soothing massages with special herbal oils), Sirodhara, Kadevasthy, Greevavasthy, etc, initially work at the physical level to soothe the aching muscles and tensed nerves and then making an impact upon mind. Administration of Rasayana strengthens the body, mind and provides high energy levels. At the same time, individually selected yoga, meditation and Pranayama (breathing techniques) programmes calm down the mind and bring back the natural rhythm of the mind and body to start a new life afresh. A planned food and lifestyle as per the basic body type (Prakruthi) and doctors recommendations will help to prevent the impact of stress.
  • Your body is not a machine. Give sufficient rest to body and mind after a stretch of work for self- repairing and recharging.
  • Whenever you are in a crisis never be panicky as excess mental tension or nervousness deteriorate your efficiency. Assess the situation, find a proper solution and go for it.
  • Proper food and daily routine is the foundation of your health. Eat balanced food in moderate quantity in correct timing. You can fix the time according to your schedules but stick on to it. Our body has a tendency to get tuned to the regular routines. If you are having breakfast at 8 am for a week your stomach will be ready to receive the food in the same time on the 8th day. If you are not taking food at that time it may cause hyperacidity or even ulcers.
  • Drink sufficient quantity of water, as it is the best medicine to cleanse your system. A proper intake of water improves the urine out put, motions and sweat- the three routes of elimination. Water reduces Pitta which is the manifestation of fire in our body and responsible for high irritability, hyper acidity and problems with increased urine and sweat take more sodium out.
  • Better to continue regular, moderate and suitable exercises as it helps to tone up the system, relieves the tension and improves the sense of well- being. Note that excessive exertion can cause deterioration of health. Sudden stoppage of regular exercise is worse than not doing it at all.
  • Proper sleep is very important as it gives relaxation to your body and mind. It is like pouring water in the radiator of your car after driving up a steep mountain road. Sleep at least six hours a day.
  • Continue regular yoga, Pranayama and meditation as it will help you to impart both physical and mental balance, improve concentration and work efficiency.
  • Note that smoking and alcohol intake is not the remedy to relieve stress. Regular indulgence in these deteriorates the condition.

Dr. K. Jayarajan
Chief Medical Officer,
AyurvedaGram Heritage Wellness Centre, Banglore


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