Life is interesting only when it has deadlines and challenges. But when the demands become inappropriate to handle, the overload and pressure creates stress to us. Stress is becoming more crucial in the overall health these days.
What is Stress?
Stress is a response of our body in a threatening situation. Imagine you are about to be attacked by a dangerous animal, say tiger. Once you perceive the approaching danger, your body gets ready to face the difficulty by releasing a flood of hormones like adrenaline and cortisol.
This results in raised heart beat rate, alertness, muscular strength and rapid breathing. This gives you massive physical stamina to flee from the tiger.
In a “fight or flight” situation, stress can save your life. In this mode, other normal body functions such as the immune system, digestive system, reproductive and other growth processes slows down to redirect all the resources to increased blood flow.
Stress in right amount is in fact good. It can help you achieve your goals. For instance when you are committed to a deadline, stress keeps you on your toes and forces you to complete the task instead of wasting time. It drives you to achieve good things by keeping the senses sharp.
But when stress becomes chronic, it affects your health and drains your ability to perform well. Your body’s response is the same when you are chased by a tiger or you feeling lonely.
Physiologically, the body releases the same type of hormones and pounding energy when excited and the automatic nervous function can’t distinguish between routine stress(psychological) and life-death (physical) struggle.
In a psychological stress, the raised blood pressure, rapid heart beat are not met with physical exertion and it creates serious health risks.
The effectiveness of digestive system is affected regularly and causes improper sleep patterns. The chronic stress causes many hazards to health starting from headache to serious mental disorder.
Ayurveda and Stress:
While western medicine dwells on the general solutions to cope with stress, Ayurveda makes distinctions between each individual’s unique reactions to stress and suggests customized solutions.
Two factors cause stress –
• Imbalance in the three dhosas – Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
• ignorance of deep inner self
As Ayurveda suggests –
• The brain’s over reaction is vata disorder.
• Endocrine system releasing hormones in blood and decreasing the metabolism is pitta imbalance
• Kapha tries to balance everything by slowing down, creating heaviness – which is interpreted as hopelessness and negative message.
Also ayurvedic perspective distinguishes between mental, physical and emotional stress. Mental stress is caused by overuse or misuse of mind and prolonged tedious hours of mental work. This causes imbalance of vata – the energy that is responsible for creativity and brain related functions.
Ayurveda defines mental health with three factors – dhi, dhriti and smriti. It is acquisition of knowledge, application and retention of knowledge.
When the vata is in disorder, the person is unable to make clear decisions and can’t handle day to day burdens.
Physical stress is caused due to exertion of body through extended heavy work. The person experiences physical fatigue and unable to concentrate. The physical stress is also caused due to accumulation of fat due to lack of exercise.
In both the cases regeneration of body cells slow down and causes physical discomfort.
Emotional stress is caused due to problems/loss in relationships. It causes pitta imbalance that is responsible for emotions. To balance this emotional stress, pitta pacifying foods would help.
Ayurveda traces back the roots that cause stress and finds a lasting solution to eliminate it. It takes into consideration nearly all conceivable factors from the planetary changes to small impurities that clog in our body. It scrutinizes the effects that stress creates in each body. It creates awareness on how well one should understand self and make a constructive approach to constant stumbling blocks.
Along with the customized treatment plan according to the predominant dosha, Ayurveda suggests a rejuvenating treatment called Panchakarma, dietary changes, stress bursting herbs and lifestyle changes called Dhinacharya.
Aroma therapy, sound therapy and color therapy stimulates our senses and all these in whole guides through a lifestyle that is in harmony with nature. It takes a holistic approach and guides you through a path that provides you an eternal peaceful and stable mind.