Stress has become one of the silent killers of people in today’s world. There are many different types of stresses that people can suffer from; and these stresses are deteriorating people’s wellbeing to such an extent that they are becoming victims of several physical and mental ailments. Stresses can arise from work, family relations, financial problems, education problems, appearance of the body, physical state of the body, etc. There are so many stresses that is difficult to discuss all of them under one heading.
In simple terms, stress can be defined as the condition when some aspect of the human body – either physical or mental – is aggravated beyond a particular limit. It can have several repercussions on people, such as:-
Feelings of isolation, frustration and depression
Raising the level of the blood cholesterol and blood pressure, which can cause fatal cardiovascular diseases
Lowering the immunity of the body, making it vulnerable to other diseases
Lowering the mental capacity of the person
Since there are different types of stresses and there are different methods to tackle them, let us study them individually.
(1) Emotional Stress
This is the stress caused due to emotional issues in relationships including conflicts, romantic rejection, separation and even death. The extent of emotional stress depends from one person to another. It all depends on how emotionally balanced the person is.
Emotional stress generally affects the heart and the brain. It can bring about a change in the eating and sleeping patterns of the individual. Most emotionally unsettled people overexert their brain by thinking constantly of the issue.
From an Ayurvedic point of view, emotional stress is placed in the category of Sadhaka pitta vitiation. This is a sub-dosha of the pitta dosha which looks after the functioning of the heart.
The following dietary points can be considered to bring about a reduction in emotional stress:-
Eat sweet foods to bring the mind back to a balanced state. Sweet and juicy foods are very beneficial.
Every night before going to bed, drink a cup of warm milk with some rose essence and its petals in it.
Use cooling spices such as cardamom, coriander and mint in the diet.
Get a good head massage done with either coconut oil or with sandalwood oil.
Include bitter and astringent foods in the diet.
Do not stay up late at night.
(2) Mental Stress
Mental stress occurs when the person overexerts the mind or uses it in a wrong way. This is also known as negative stress or distress. This is caused due to overwork, planning too much, thinking excessively about something, making destructive schemes or conspiracies, etc. This is a very dangerous type of stress, because in the long run, it would affect all the faculties of the brain and prevent it from functioning properly.
Vata dosha is responsible for mental stress. In particular, the prana vata is responsible. This is the sub-dosha of the vata dosha which is responsible for the normal functioning of the brain.
The following dietary guidelines can help to get relief from mental stress:-
Sweet, sour and salty foods must be had as they help in balancing the vata dosha.
Milk and dairy products must be included to a fair amount in the daily diet.
Preferably, all foods must be cooked in a little ghee.
Get a full body massage done, particularly with ksheerabala taila or dhanwantari taila.
Get adequate sleep per day, for about eight hours in the least.
(3) Physical Stress
Physical stress or strain occurs when the body is excessively used, such as by too much exercising or by performing too much hard labor.
Symptoms of this type of stress are pain in several parts of the body, loss in memory and concentration, inability to focus on things, unclear vision, etc.
This is by far the most important of the three types of stresses, as in this all the three doshas can be vitiated. Shleshaka kapha can cause problems in the proper lubrication of the joints and vyaana vata can tamper with normal circulation of blood in the body, along with pitta vitiation. Since vata and kapha are the more affected doshas, steps are taken to balance the vata and to make the kapha stronger.
The following dietary rules can be obeyed to achieve this purpose.
Have cooked apples once a day. These are great stress-busters.
Other foods that are good for removing physical stress are coconuts, almonds, ghee, milk and almost all dairy products.
Massage your own body with oil everyday.
Use of the shirodhara therapy is considered useful. This is done by lying flat on the ground, while a pot full of oil is hung right above. A hole is made in the bottom of the pot such that oil from the hole drips right on the space between the two eyes