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By: Mr. Chintan Gandhi, CEO & Director – Millennium Herbal care
Excessive worry, nervousness and tension are provoking stimuli to what we know or perceive as psychological distress. With this pandemic, we are facing an unprecedented mental health crisis that necessitates to stark a wakeup call for the need to take mental wellbeing as a serious subject in India.
As per the NCBI, the Indian population has reported with mental health issues such as stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia and suicidal tendency especially during the lockdown. Now this is an appalling situation, as children, elderly, frontline workers and patients with pre-conditions are most vulnerable.
Having said, lockdown or the pandemic may not be the only trigger, though it may have definitely amplified the situation. One also cannot deny the roles of social media, the uncertainties of the future and people by large increasingly seeking validation from others and many such as possible triggers of the world mental health condition.
According to Ayurveda a healthy mind plays an important role. Being a holistic science, Ayurveda explores the symbiotic relationship among the mind, body, soul, the senses and their workings. Stress disrupts the inner harmony of your Doshas - the three forces that govern your health on a subtle level.
Stress produces a host of physiological symptoms that can seriously impact both physical and psychological health. Chief among these is the elevation of cortisol, a stress hormone that can suppress the immune system, increase blood pressure, and impair memory and increases risk for depression, anxiety and other mental health disorders.
The principles of Ayurveda have been in practice for centuries in order to help heal the mind, body & spirit and the following principles can be applied in our daily lives to control the stress that we are subjected to:
In Ayurveda, Abhyanga (oil massage) is a daily self-care ritual that has been employed to promote physical and emotional health. Daily Abhyanga with various herbal oils like Bala Ashwagandha and Sandalwood can stimulate the production of serotonin and dopamine, neurotransmitters that promote well-being, satisfaction and feelings of happiness, while decreasing cortisol levels, a hormone produced by the adrenal glands, which is related to stress and anxiety. Serotonin consequently stimulates production of melatonin, which helps regulate the body’s circadian rhythms and lull you to sleep.
Yoga is a self-soothing technique that modulates the stress response and helps to relax the nervous system. Yoga discipline focuses on three aspects; the mind, body, and soul. So regardless of what anxiety is for you - whether a temporary thing or a constant feeling, yoga can help you to manage it.
Yoga, with unique mind-body practice i.e. Asana and controlled breathing pattern helps to increase the awareness of present movement and promotes emotional stability. Scientifically yoga boosts the level of happy neurotransmitters like GABA (gamma-amino butyric acid), serotonin, dopamine and tryptophan and lowers cortisol level (the stress hormone). Ayurveda recommends regular practice of yoga to bestow the power to control body and mind.
3. Sattvik diet
According to Ayurveda Satvik Guna of the mind supports composure and equanimity. A Sattvik Diet is a pure vegetarian diet which includes seasonal fresh fruit, ample fresh vegetables, whole grain, pulses, sprouts, dried nuts, seeds, honey, fresh herbs, milk and dairy products which are free from animal rennet. These foods raise sattva or our consciousness levels.
Sattvik foods are cooked and eaten with love, gratitude and awareness. As stated in Ayurvedic classics a person incorporating such diet on daily base is calm, peaceful, serene, amicable and full of energy, enthusiasm, health, hope, aspirations, creativity and balanced personality.
The inherent power of herbs helps ward off diseases in a natural and healthy manner. Ayurveda offers a group of Medhya or nootropic herbs that are beneficial in improving the brain abilities. The goodness of these herbs should be integrated in our daily lives and Ayurveda has a bouquet of them giving us myriad options.
5. Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri)
Brahmi is an adaptogenic herb, it increase resilience to stress by improving efficient transmission of signals along the nerve fibers by modulating the release of neurotransmitter like serotonin, dopamine and GABA which in turn, fortifies memory, learning and balances emotion.
6. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
Ashwagandha reduce anxiety, stress and helps to fight depression. It boosts the adrenals by supporting normal HPA (Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal) axis functioning, reduces the stress hormone cortisol and improves overall neurotransmitter for strong mental health.
7. Vacha (Acorus calamus)
Vacha has CNS (Central Nervous System) depressive action to overcome symptoms like anxiety, fear and depression, it changes the electrical activity by altering brain monoamine levels in different brain regions.
8. Jatamansi (Nardostachys jatamansi)
Jatamansi increase the levels of central monoamines and inhibitory amino acids, including a change in the levels of serotonin, 5-hydroxyindole acetic acid, (GABA) gamma-amino butyric acid and taurine that contributes to its anti-depressant action.
9. Mandukparni (Centella asiatica)
Mandukparni improves mental clarity, concentration and reduces mental stress by balancing the neurotransmitters - dopamine, norepinephrine or serotonin secretion and by revitalizing the neurons (brain cells).
10. Shankhpushpi (Evolvulus alsinoides)
Shankhpushpi reduces the cortisol levels and combats stress. It soothes the nervous system and is extremely effective at tackling insomnia.
According to Ayurveda, the key to effective stress management lies in trying to avoid provoking factors and strengthening the body’s adaptive power to deal with stress. Ayurveda provides specific lifestyle, dietary, herbal, and yogic solutions for each individual that can not only diffuse tension but also help build a foundation for lasting peace of mind.
Whatever steps we take, our efforts toward balance represent an evolving process rather than a static goal. We all need to take time out to consciously relax. We can use this time to quietly observe our feelings and access a deeper awareness of the source of stress. From here, we can then choose between reacting to a stress trigger or instead responding using the guidance of Ayurveda.