Thursday, 7 April 2011

Stressed out?

Stress is experienced by every living organism, and is a natural part of life and day to day living.  It manifests in our body on a conscious and subconscious level and is experienced physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually.  Stress occurs when we receive an overload of stimulus, either in a good or bad way.  The body, mind and spirit are all subjected to the ravages of day to day stress, worries about security, economic difficulties and emotional traumas can take a toll on health and longevity. 

According to Ayurveda, Mental Stress is caused by the misuse of the mind through activities such as performing intense mental work for prolonged periods at a time.  This can impact our ability to retain and recall information, leading to a hyperactive or chaotic mind unable to make clear decisions, think positively, be enthusiastic or even sleep well at night.  In order to tackle mental stress you should manage your mental activity and not work during late hours when your body and mental faculties should be at rest.  Vata pacifying foods should be taken such as sweet, sour or salty tasting foods.  The avoidance of stimulants and extremely acidic foods will help prevent an overactive mind, and drinking herbal teas will encourage the mind and body to rest and prepare for sleep.  Relaxing aromatherapy and meditation will also help mental stress.

Emotional stress can be caused by relationship troubles, loss of a loved one or anything which can injure the heart.  This can lead to depression, irritability and loss of sleep.  Emotional stress can affect our sleep differently to mental stress, with the emotions we may wake up during the night and not be able to get back to restful sleep.  To tackle emotional stress you should use Pitta pacifying foods (cooling foods) such as cardamom, coriander, mint.  Regular meditation is also encouraged as this helps us to learn how to still our mind and thoughts, which is known to help us understand our inner being and bring a sense of clarity to situations in our lives which may be contributing to emotional stress.

Physical stress develops when we misuse our body through overworking, too much exercise which wears our body down and depletes our precious energy resources, or the lack of adequate exercise which causes our body’s energy flow to stagnate and become depressed.  All these factors can lead to fatigue, lethargy and a sense of dullness of the mind and a sluggish digestive system which in turn adds to the accumulation of toxins in the body and further decline in wellbeing.  To maintain good levels of physical energy, Kapha should be restored and supported.  Certain foods such as almonds, coconut, walnuts, seasonal fruit can be natural stress busters according to Ayurveda.  However, more importantly getting adequate physical rest and thorough sleep is vital.

Once our resilience to stress is built up we should be encouraged to look at stress in our life as a challenge and an opportunity for growth, development and education of our mind, body and spirit.

Note:  Vata, Pitta and Kapha are the three psycho-physiological ayurvedic principles known as the Tri-Dosha,  which governs all activities of the mind and body.  A person can enjoy wellbeing if these three factors are in equilibrium.

Stress can manifest in many ways however with professional treatment by our acupuncture and ayurveda specialist they can be controlled.

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