How does Ayurveda define stress?
Stress is a hyperactive state of the mind and body in relation to the perceived environment one is experiencing. It is a state in which either the mind or body- and in some situations both- try to cope with the pace of events and struggle to feel a sense of ease or calm. The stressful situation lets the elemental forces or bio energies of vata (air and space) and pitta (water and fire) to rise in the body, creating various imbalances.
What is Ayurveda’s approach towards managing stress?
In Ayurveda, the three bio energies are explained as: Vata - governs the mobility and impulses in our body and mind, Pitta - takes care of the overall energy and emotions attached to thought process, while Kapha (earth and water) provides stability and nourishment. Under stress different Dosha types tend to react differently, the Vata predominant mind-set tends to get nervous and anxious, a Pitta personality type tends to get aggressive, while people dominated by Kapha choose to not handle such abrupt changes, they tend to procrastinate and get into a state of endless waiting, hence, stress commonly manifests as depression in a Kapha personality.
When a human being is on a work and action overdrive, exerting the physical body beyond normal usage, it doesn’t allow a favorable condition for the body to repair and nurture, in other words the Kapha responsible for nourishment and rest, begins to deplete rapidly.
As per Ayurveda, thoughts regulate hormones and hormones regulate our body. Keep away from negative thoughts by regulating your daily routine, eating wholesome nutritious diet, meditating or taking time off to be in the awareness of your own breath. Practice the art of letting go and that relates on a physical, mental and emotional level. A light body translates to a light and happy mind.
How do you protect yourself in a situation of extreme stress, especially in a situation where you can’t do anything?
The first step is to identify the changes (if any) in your physical action, words, and habits. Are you sure you are stressed or is it a borrowed emotion? Sometimes, stress can be contagious, you feel stressed by listening or counseling a friend or relative. Once stress is recognized seek professional help from a friend or through a holistic physician or a healer.
In case of psychological stress, identify the emotions responsible. Let the voice of the adult within you guide and lead the dialogue. Think how does it really matter, do I really need to react like this, what are the alternative I can do to get over this. Once you figure out a logical reason which appeals the most, create an action plan. Seeking help of an emotional healer or a spiritual phycologist is advisable if you are clouded by childlike emotions.
Shirodhara is an Ayurvedic therapy used for stress related disorders. It also improves memory, addresses other neurological disorders, normalizes sleep patterns and blood pressure.
Do you recommend anything to start on something immediately to cope with any form of stress?
Cope with stress by taking soothing supplements like aswagandha with warm milk, etc. based on what is best suited for you. Generally, to de-stress, our brain need more carbs and fat.
To avoid aggravating Pitta it is recommended to reduce the intake of red meat, alcohol, raw salads, seeds and millets for dinner.
Exercise regularly, take time to meditate and sit in silence.
Eat foods which your body craves – but within limits. Surround yourself with people who have a positive outlook.
Take this as an opportunity to correct your daily routine, it is observed the people who follow daily routine have a better outlook to life and have a better sense of wellbeing.