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Ayurvedic Management of Stress

The term "stress" is difficult to define and may mean different things to different people in different circumstances. Stress is the uncomfortable gap between... how we would like our life to be and how it actually is .if this gap is persistent (or even worse: growing) - despite our efforts to reduce it then our mind feels uneasy, restless, disturbed, agitated, frustrated, tense, heavy or strained, we are said to be under stress.

We are living in the society in which worries, stress and strain are too rich. Worries about security, economic difficulties, and emotions are becoming more common and will effect on health and longevity of life. Body and mind, are subjected to more stress.

It is important to target the etiological factors while managing such cases. Therapies aim to bring the mental and physical conditions to normal state. Nevertheless, one must be careful not to create imbalance in other factors to avoid negative and adverse effects.

Causes of Stress --
The causative factors of stress are broadly divided into two types

1.External stressors: include adverse physical conditions (such as pain or hot or cold temperatures) or stressful psychological environments (such as poor working conditions or abusive relationships) , rules, regulations, "red tape," deadlines. It also includes major life events: death of a relative, lost job, promotion, insults, being ignored etc.

2.Internal stressor's: can also be physical (infections) or psychological.
Lifestyle choices: caffeine, not enough sleep, overloaded schedule.
Negative Thinking: Pessimism, self-criticism, over-analyzing.
Mind traps: unrealistic expectations, taking things personally, exaggerating, rigid thinking.
Stressful personality traits: perfectionist, workoholic, pleaser.
Vata and Pitta constitution people.

Type of stress: Stressors can also be defined as short-term (acute) or long-term (chronic).
Acute Stress: Acute stress is the reaction to an immediate threat, commonly known as the fight or flight response. The threat can be any situation that is experienced, even subconsciously or falsely, as a danger. Common acute stressors include: noise, crowding, isolation, hunger, danger, infection, and imagining a threat or remembering a dangerous event. Under most circumstances, once the acute threat has passed, the response becomes in activated and levels of stress hormones return to normal, a condition called the relaxation response. Chronic Stress: Frequently, however, modern life poses on-going stressful situations that are not short-lived and the urge to act (to fight or to flee) must be suppressed. Stress, then, becomes chronic. Common chronic stressors include: on-going highly pressured work, long-term relationship problems, loneliness, and persistent financial worries.

Common manifestations of stress -
Digestive system. It's common to have a stomachache or diarrhea during stress. This happens because stress hormones slow the release of stomach acid and the emptying of the stomach. The same hormones also stimulate the colon, which speeds the passage of its contents. Chronic stress can also lead to continuously high levels of cortisol. This hormone can increase appetite and cause weight gain.
Immune system. Chronic stress tends to dampen the immune system, making one more susceptible to colds and other infections.
Nervous system. If fight-or-flight response never shuts off, stress hormones produce persistent feelings of anxiety, helplessness and impending doom. Oversensitivity to stress has been linked with severe depression, possibly because depressed people have a harder time adapting to the negative effects of cortisol. The byproducts of cortisol act as sedatives, which contribute to the overall feeling of depression.
Cardiovascular system. High levels of cortisol can also raise your heart rate and increase your blood pressure and blood lipid (cholesterol and triglyceride) levels. These are risk factors for both heart attacks and strokes.
Other systems. Stress worsens many skin conditions — such as psoriasis, eczema, hives and acne — and can be a trigger for asthma attacks.

Ayurvedic Stress Management -
Providing understanding and guidelines for balance in body, mind and spirit, Ayurveda gives us Panchakarma Therapy as well as herbal healthcare to maintain the 'Tridoshas' in balance throughout our mind and body.

Pancha Karma therapies has been used for centuries in the Ayurvedic management of disease. Pancha Karma is the process which gets to the root cause of the problem and corrects the essential balance of 'Tridosha' in body.The therapies specific for Stress conditions are Shiroabhyanga, Shirodhara, Shirovasti, and Abhyanga.

The drug used in the treatment are mostly medhya drugs or medhya rasayanas which are believed to act as specific molecular nutrients for the brain affording a better mental health leading in turn to alleviation of the behavioral alteration and to cope up day to day stress. The herbs of adaptogenic properties are Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Brahmi (bacopa monniera), Shankh pushpi (Convolvulus pluricaulis), Vacha (Acorus calamus), Yashtimadhu (Glycrrhiza glabra), Guduchi(Tinospora cordifolia), Amalaki (Embelica officinalis) etc.

Brahmi ghrita in dosage of 5 -10 gm with hot milk and Nasya is of great help.

Yoga - Progressive deep relaxation , i.e., Shavasana (Corpse posture) brings about a relaxed state of mind and practicing it daily is very useful in reducing stress. Daily practice of 'Yoganidra' is also useful for making your mind calm and tension free.


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