Not so long ago, words like depression, anxiety, mental health were almost taboo to speak or discuss loudly. But considering the type of life routine a few decades back, it was not as hectic and as puzzling as it is now. With the advent of technology and the step into the new world of the Internet, things have changed a lot, both for adults as well kids.
Every second person today is dealing and struggling with some or other pressures in life. Be it personal reasons, professional, physical or emotional, the uncertainties of the future and the constantly changing life around, anything and everything can be a cause of anxiety. Also, in comparison to earlier times, life is moving at a rocket fast speed. We do not have time for ourselves. Family time, social interactions, spending time with loved ones, seem to be a thing of the distant past now.
The problem of anxiety disorder is rising at an alarming rate all over the world. If we have a look at the numbers
- More than 25% of females and 15% of males are affected by anxiety.
- And it is not very surprising to know that anxiety disorder is one of the most common disorders in the world.
- According to a report of the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 31% of adults experience some type of anxiety, at least once in their lifetime.
- The report also states among those suffering from anxiety, only one-third of them seek medical help or take any sort of treatment.
What Does Ayurveda Say About Anxiety?
The basic principle of Ayurvedic Science is maintaining a balance between the three dosha – Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Any imbalance in any of the three doshas is the major cause of any type of health issues in our body, including mental and physical issues. From an ayurvedic perspective, an anxious mind, body and soul or anxiety is a result of an imbalanced Vata Dosha.
Increased Vata Dosha affects the Mano Vaha Srota (Channel of the mind). If explained in simple language, increased Vata Dosha results in an overthinking or windy mind. The Ayurvedic approach to mental health or for overall health is completely different from other medical methods. Ayurvedic philosophy is based on the belief that a person should be healthy not just physically but mentally also. It is at our core we should be healthy, happy and peaceful, naturally. And this philosophy revolves around maintaining a balance between the three Doshas.
According to Ayurveda, mental health is considered to be an imbalance rather than an isolated condition. Therefore, instead of treating the symptoms, it focuses on getting to the root cause and getting the Vata Dosha in balance.
Tips To Treat Anxiety The Ayurvedic Way
Before moving to the Ayurvedic ways to treat anxiety, let us understand what causes the imbalance in Vata Dosha. Certain lifestyle factors can increase Vata Dosha. For example, being awake till late hours, irregular sleeping hours, a cold environment, too much work, and an unhealthy diet can all lead to a Vata Dosha imbalance.
Though the symptoms and causes of mental illness may differ from person to person. The following tips can help in getting the Vata Dosha in balance and treating the root cause of anxiety or depression.
- Take A Warm Bath:
Taking a warm bath or soaking yourself in warm water for at least half an hour can help in soothing the muscles and relaxing the overthinking mind. Ayurvedic experts recommend adding one-third cup of ginger juice and baking soda in the warm water and soaking in it for half an hour for best results.
- Drink Almond Milk:
Almonds are known as one of the best ways to strengthen the nerves of your brain and balance the Vata Dosha. Soak 5-10 almonds overnight. Peel the almonds in the morning and grind them. Mis the paste in warm milk and for best results you can also add a pinch of nutmeg, ginger and saffron.
- Follow Proper Diet:
To balance the Vata Dosha, Ayurveda suggests including food with calming properties in your daily diet. To balance the Vata Dosha, you should add warm, moist, dairy products and less oily food to your diet. To calm the mind you should also avoid alcohol, sugar, caffeine, nicotine and chocolate.
- Try Aromatherapy:
Aromatherapy is also one of the effective ways of calming the anxious mind. According to Ayurveda, a certain fragrance like basil, orange, lavender oil and clove can help in relaxing the Vata Dosha. You can either buy the fragrance of them or add a few drops of oil to the water while taking a bath.
- Practice Pranayam:
Practising yoga daily also has proven and effective results of balancing the doshas. Specifically, to balance the Vata Dosha, Ayurvedic Science suggests practising pranayama as it helps in soothing the nervous systems and calms the mind.
As a holistic medical science, Ayurveda focuses on regular bodywork as part of a healthy lifestyle. Another way of calming the anxious mind and balancing the Vata Dosha is trying the Shirodhara therapy. The term Shirodhara is derived from Sanskrit words Shiro meaning head and Dhara meaning flow. This is a traditional Ayurvedic body therapy where a steady, gentle stream of warm oil is continuously poured onto the forehead to help soothe and heal a tired nervous system.
According to Ayurvedic beliefs, gentle but steady application of the oil stimulates healthy blood circulation to the brain and pituitary gland, while certain added herbs and essences can relieve symptoms of anxiety, migraines and insomnia.
Shirodhara mainly works on the Manomaya Kosha (mental sheath). The process develops a sense of deep relaxation in the mind and body from head to toe, giving your nervous system a chance to begin the organic repair. According to Ayurvedic research, Shirodhara therapy leads to a state of calm alertness similar to the relaxation response seen in meditation.
Ashwagandha, known as the king of herbs in Ayurveda, also helps in relaxing the mind and balancing the Vata Dosha. Long hailed in India and Africa as a Rasayana (rejuvenating) herb, Ashwagandha has recently gained popularity in Western herbalism for its adaptogenic qualities. According to ancient Ayurvedic texts, regular intake of Ashwagandha in any form results in longevity, regains youth, maintains vivid memory, remains free from disease, has a radiant complexion and obtains the strength of a horse.
The combination of Ashwagandha with pungent spices and ghee (clarified butter) is a traditional Ayurvedic remedy for people suffering from anxiety. Spices increase the absorption of ashwagandha, while ghee is a good source of healthy fats. Other ways to use Ashwagandha include: adding a tablespoon of powder in warm water, taking it in capsule form or adding it to a glass of hot milk.
Stress, anxiety and depression can be very disturbing for your physical and mental health and significantly affect your daily life. Ayurveda offers many therapies, herbs, and ingredients that can offer you a holistic approach to curing it by maintaining a balance in the doshas. You can try these herbs and formulations as they offer no harmful side effects and are non-addictive. To know more about Ayurvedic remedies and treatments, visit Shivya Ayurveda a brand that has come into origin after many years of research and planning to distribute precious ayurvedic medicines to the general public and make them accessible to all.