We all live in a modern world, full of stress creating factors and events that are simply unavoidable. There are many techniques and strategies to relieve or completely eliminate stress factors. Many are really simple and easy – they are the ones that work the best and have a deep, healing effect on the human body. In this post, only the most effective lifestyle – food – therapy methods to de-stress in harmony with Ayurvedic knowledge and practices will be outlined.
1.Water – water has amazing qualities to absorb stress and emotional burden even grief or a broken heart. When under stress it is recommended to splash your face with cold, clean water as many times as you can (every hour or even every 30 min if possible). Also drinking plenty of room temperature water helps to reduce the stress hormone levels. All this in combination with nice, relaxing bath (shower is not as effective as bath with rose petals) daily if possible will be very effective in dealing with stress. Even washing dishes can be your de-stress therapy for the day. It is advisable for everyone to make a habit of drinking and using water to de-stress and improve the immune system and overall health and happiness. The old saying when something bad happens makes more sense now “Drink a glass of cold water and all will be OK again”
2.Gardening and walks in the nature – Working in the garden, planting and watering flowers is very effective stress therapy. It is being used all over the world even modern doctors suggest this with great success. Small, manageable size garden with herbs, veggies and flowers is a must. Walks in parks, trails and in the forest is also very effective and should be done weekly or as often as you can.
3.Plant based / vegetarian diet – Ayurveda has particularly strong position on being vegetarian (lacto vegetarian – having only milk and cheese from animal products as they do not kill the animals. For more information on Ayurvedic vegetarianism please see: Ayurveda – Vegetarianism). It has been proven that meat increases the levels of the stress hormone and testosterone adding to already stressed out body. Well balanced and properly cooked vegetarian diet is the key for longevity, health and happiness.
4.Breathing techniques / Bastrika – Proper breathing is essential for many other health aspects as well as for stress relief. Just bastrika alone can be used to effectively eliminate anxiety and de-stress the body and the mind. Bastrika is a series of breathing exercises that are simple to do and takes only few minutes. (example: take a deep breath trough the nose while pressing on the left nostril inhaling from the left one – then press on the right nostril and exhale trough the left. Repeat 8 times with increased intensity, then relax for a moment. Do the same inhaling trough the left nostril/exhaling trough the right for another 8 times. This is very effective to normalize the blood pressure in the head and reduce stress and anxiety)
5.Meditation / Prayers – Meditation is accredited to be the most efficient way of relieving the body from stress and negative emotions. However it is increasingly difficult to meditate if you are highly stressed and unable to calm the mind and sit for 45min (see more on . Prayers are also very effective and have similar effect as meditation (not as powerful) but can be used from everybody who has any religious beliefs. Please note that Ayurveda is a science that has no religion!
6.Singing / Playing musical instrument – From ancient times it has been well known that music has a special effect on the mind and relaxing music (preferably classical or folk music without lyrics)can be used with profound effects. Singing however is the most effective therapy and should be done by everybody daily for at least 15 min. Only melodic, harmonious music with beautiful poetic lyrics is beneficial. Most modern pop/rock/rap/techno etc… music is creating more stress and anxiety.
7.Love / Laughter therapy – Love is a universal therapy that cures everything Love does not mean sex – but it is this beautiful warm feeling in your chest when you are happy and content. Laughter is used to develop a special therapy technique that is very effective against high stress life styles. Reading comical books or watching comedies can be effective as well – please feel free to express your emotions and laugh freely…
8.Pets / Tree hugging therapy – Having a pet is also very effective, the bigger the animal is the better it works. The most effective animal to relieve stress is the cow. Tree hugging is a therapy made popular by Mahatma Gandhi when he started the Chipco movement. Large trees have very strong vibes and are able to remove negative emotions and restore balance temporarily. To be effective tree hugging should be done daily for 30min to 1 hour.
9.Holidays / Vacations / Change of living environment – Having a holiday and being on vacation works miracles for some people. To be effective one should allow the body to rest and participate in creative activities avoiding alcohol, large crowds and loud music…
10.Oiliation therapies / Massages / Shirodhara – Oiliation therapies are used in Ayurveda to promote health and well being as well as to relieve stress. One of most effective therapies is Full body massage (Abyanga) in combination with special oil pouring therapy (Shirodhara – warm sesame oil is poured continuously over the forehead for 40min.). These are very effective therapies to restore clarity of the mind, memory and eliminate stress.
11.Herbs for the Mind – Brahmi is the single most effective and widely used herb for the mind. You can also use Vacha, shankapushpi, fennel and tulsi (secret basil). Hot milk is also very effective as a medicine taken before bed at night.
12.Proper elimination – Ayurveda has a strong emphasis on proper elimination. Daily bowel movement is absolutely essential to deal with stress and can cause many illnesses if not taken into account. Urination and sweating are equally important and special attention should be taken to keep track of all of them, as this is the body’s own mechanism to tell us if something is not right.
NOT ADVISABLE STRESS RELEIVE METHODS:
1.Overeating and indulging on food – most common practice is to eat a bar of chocolate or box of sugary candies when someone is under heavy stress. Many people develop eating disorders like chronic overeating and obesity trying to deal with stress using food. Not effective and detrimental to health both mental and physical!
2.Smoking tobacco – Tobacco decreases the levels of stress hormone only temporarily, so it is partially effective and mostly done in a social manner that can help to relieve stress too. However the long term effect is very detrimental to health and is very addictive.
3.Drinking alcohol and use of recreational drugs – Using alcohol to get away from daily troubles is only effective if done a few times per year and the body will pay the price of dealing with toxins after that. It is a bad practice that is prohibited in Ayurveda. Glass of wine or beer can be tolerated if the person is healthy. Use of any Drugs is a big NO!
4.Sex and sexual practices – If done with a beloved partner and in moderation sex can be a very beneficial stress therapy. Moderation however means once a month during summer and once a week during the cold winter months. Any out of the ordinary sexual practices will disturb the doshic balance and therefore are not advisable.
5.Screaming at your own people to de-stress – please don’t use your closest one’s to de-stress, there are many ways you can do that without putting the load on them.
6.TV / Computer games and virtual reality – Living in a virtual world is becoming a problem now. Too much TV, computer games and internet should be avoided as they add significantly to the stress levels.
I hope this article has been informative to you and I would like to thank you for reading.