Ayurveda for Stress: 11 Ways to Find Your Calm
There's no way around it: everyone experiences a little stress now and then! Over time, though, high levels of stress can cause an excess build-up of free radicals in your body and can lead to premature aging and disease. Fortunately, the ancient science of Ayurveda offers many helpful ways to combat day-to-day stress and enhance your body's natural ability to throw off its effects.
Below, you'll find some of our top recommendations on finding stress relief through Ayurveda.
1. START YOUR DAY STRESS-FREE
When you begin your day with a good routine, it sets you up for a stress-free day by helping to keep Vata dosha in balance.
The ideal Ayurvedic morning routine is as follows:
Wake up in the morning before 6:00 a.m.
Empty your bowels and bladder.
Wash your face, giving special attention to your eyes.
Brush your teeth, scrape your tongue, and rinse your mouth. This is also a good time to drink a cup of water.
Give yourself an abhyanga (Ayurvedic warm oil massage) followed by a bath or shower. If you don't have time for a full-body massage, at least do your hands, feet, and neck, as they are major stress areas. Vaidya Agrawal recommends our Moisturizing Massage Oil if your job involves high stress, or our Youthful Skin Massage Oil for nourishment of body and mind.
Limber up with some Yoga Asanas and Surya Namaskaras (Sun Salutations).
Practice some deep breathing or pranayama, followed by a meditation like Transcendental Meditation).(R)
Have breakfast--a stewed apple or pear and warm cereal is ideal--and take your herbal food supplements and rasayanas. You're good to go!
2. EXPRESS YOUR FEELINGS
A great deal of stress can pile up if you bottle things up inside and don't communicate--even with yourself. Whenever you suppress stress, it piles up like a toxin inside your mind and slowly seeps into your psyche.
To remedy the problem, open up and talk to someone you can confide in. Or take the time to write a journal and pour out your feelings to yourself. Learn to meditate. Opening up to yourself is the first step towards addressing your feelings, and talking to others helps you realize you are not alone.
3.EAT FOODS RICH IN STRESS-BUSTING ANTIOXIDANTS
In Ayurveda, food is medicine. A healthy diet rich in fresh, organic produce, whole grains, and vegetarian protein nourishes your body and goes a long way toward relieving stress. Fruits and vegetables are rich in the antioxidants that beat back free-radical damage, cutting your susceptibility to stress and fatigue. Remember to try and eat according to your Ayurvedic constitution. Not sure what your current constitution is? Take our Dosha Quiz to learn more.
For extra antioxidant support, our high-antioxidant formula Amrit Kalash is a unique combination of rare herbs and fruits which, when taken daily, helps beat back the free radical damage caused by stress, while improving immunity and restoring the balance between mind, body, and spirit. Organic Premium Amla Berry and Ashwagandha are also helpful.
4. TRY INDIAN HERBS FOR OCCASIONAL ANXIETY
Sometimes, stress and tension can cause an imbalance in Sadhaka Pitta--the subdosha of Pitta that governs emotional balance. Our Stress Free Emotions formula--a potent combination of Ayurvedic botanicals like arjuna, ashwagandha, mica, pearl, and holy basil--nurtures Sadhaka Pitta and helps build natural resistance to emotional stress while promoting self-confidence, positive thinking, and feelings of fulfillment. It also balances Prana Vata, the subdosha of Vata that governs the brain, the head, and the mind.
Worry Free is another powerful formula in Ayurveda for stress relief. Rich in ashwagandha and jatamansi, Worry Free helps to balance Vata and increases resistance to stress. It calms the mind and promotes deeper sleep, too.
Researchers at the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) conducted a randomized, controlled pilot study to measure the effects of Worry Free on 10 patients who suffered from Generalized Anxiety Disorder, a condition that affects 25% of the population.
After three months of taking Worry Free, 80% of the non-placebo participants no longer exhibited Generalized Anxiety Disorder and exhibited a two-fold greater decrease in the Hamilton Anxiety Scale compared to the placebo group. Their cortisol levels also decreased (as measured by saliva).
5. CALM OCCASIONAL ANXIETY WITH THERAPEUTIC AROMAS
"Therapeutic aromas work very well in relieving stress and have a proven calming effect," says Vaidya Agrawal. Maharishi Ayurveda recommends Cooling Pitta Therapeutic Aroma Oil for excess tension and frustration.
You can enjoy stress-reducing aromas wherever you are by using an aroma locket, a diffuser, or incense sticks. Alternatively, add six drops of aroma oil to your bathwater for a calming effect. And let's not forget flowers! They're uplifting to the eyes and soothe the heart and senses.
6. MEDITATE TO RELEASE STRESS
These days, there are so many easy ways to find a meditation practice that suits your lifestyle. According to Agrawal, the Transcendental Meditation program is the most effective way to reduce stress. While there have been over 600 studies conducted on the benefits of the Transcendental Meditation technique, perhaps the most impressive research indicates reduction in the stress hormone cortisol; lactic acid, an indicator of stress; and anxiety. At the same time, serotonin, which is a sign of relaxation, increases dramatically
7. LISTEN TO SOOTHING MUSIC
"Music has a vital effect on your nervous system, mind, and emotions," notes Vaidya Agrawal. That's why Maharishi Ayurveda recommends the soothing, serene melodies of Gandharva Veda music, which align biological rhythms with nature's rhythms. While you're at it, take a bath using relaxation-inducing essential oils like lavender, chamomile, or jasmine. Or try our Calming Pink Himalayan Bath Salts!
8. MAKE A DAILY CHECKLIST
At any time during your day, there are always little jobs that require attention. When you're swamped with other, more important tasks, those little to-dos can start adding up and gnawing away at your subconscious mind. To free up your mind so it can focus on the matters at hand, make a daily to-do list of everything you hope to accomplish. Each time you complete a small task, cross it off the list. There's something very satisfying about it! Break larger projects into smaller ones so they're not so overwhelming. Each time you do this, you will free up more space in your mind.
9. DRINK STRESS-BUSTING BEVERAGES
Sometimes, stress relief is as simple as sipping a soothing cuppa. Worry Free Tea helps support your body's natural ability to combat stress. Sip a cup of this potent herbal brew three times a day when tensions run high. In the evening, drink Organic Vata Tea.
"Often when people feel stressed they drink large amounts of coffee," says Vaidya Agrawal. "But if they start gradually substituting Worry Free Tea or Raja's Cup in place of coffee, they will feel more relaxed and less stressed and toxic."
10. GET A GOOD NIGHT'S SLEEP
An uncomfortable night of tossing and turning can set off a series of unhappy events--lowered appetite, imbalanced digestion, irritation, and fatigue, to name a few. Your work performance can suffer, along with your relationships, creativity, and general well-being.
To get the best shot at a good night's sleep, Ayurveda recommends eating a light, well-cooked dinner at least three hours before bed, so as not to tax the digestive system at night. Also, engage in relaxing activities before bed, such as taking an evening walk, listening to calming music, or having a warm bath with our Slumber Time Pink Himalayan Bath Salts.
Herbs like Indian valerian and jatamansi are natural herbal sleep aids with a calming influence and have been used in Ayurveda for centuries. Ashwagandha helps resistance to stress, and helps balance the mind and emotions. These and other rest-friendly herbs come together in our Blissful Sleep formula, prepared in the traditional Ayurvedic way, using only the best-quality ingredients. Deep Rest is a helpful formula if you find yourself waking up in the early hours of the morning, unable to get back to sleep.
There is no magic bullet when it comes to managing stress. Each day we make choices, and every time we choose an activity that leads to less stress, we move toward the upward cycle of emotional balance. Learn more about the Ayurvedic approach to stress management in our wellness hub.