Too much stress zaps the joy out of living. Stress can be defined as a state of mental or emotional strain resulting from demanding circumstances. There is a lot of current research about the harmful effects of stress and its increase on the risk of everything from the common cold to cardiovascular disease. While the jury is still out on exactly how stress affects human beings, we can all agree on one thing; too much stress is no fun.
In one form or another we are all seeking happiness, happiness is health. When stress gets out of hand, it can spiral into a state of depression. Take a moment and think about a time when you were feeling sad, depressed or experiencing grief. Now see if you can separate your circumstances from your thoughts about your circumstances.
The realization that the feeling of depression does not come from our circumstances, rather it comes from our thoughts about our circumstances is liberating. Control is an important aspect of our psychological well-being. When we come to grips with the fact that we are powerless against our external world, we are empowered to take action on our internal world. We realize that within each of us resides a lasting state of bliss which is ever satisfying and does not diminish with age. Stress, tension, depression, and self-hatred prevent us from developing our good qualities and sharing them with others. Happiness and love are at the core of our being, it’s our duty to uncover them.
An ayurvedic practitioner can tailor a stress-reduction, mood boosting plan to your individual needs but here is some advice that caters to all:
Implement diaphragmatic breathing.This type of breathing activated the parasympathetic nervous system kick starting the body’s rest and digest mode. Breathe into the lower lobes of your lungs and lessen the harmful effects a chronic state of fight-or-flight response can have on your psychological state.
Limit electronic usageSkip 10 minutes of scrolling through social media, flipping through TV stations, reading the news or even exercise and lie in Savasana for 10 minutes a day. Stretch out on your back in whatever way feels comfortable, heels together or feet apart, spread your arms, close your eyes and breath normally through the nose. This practice balances the nervous system and fosters a clear state of mind.
Drink herbal teas.Start the day with rooibos, tulsi tea or peppermint tea and end the day with chamomile, spearmint or lavender tea. Caffeine is a stimulant and increases the release of stress hormones. Stimulants will give an initial boost, perhaps lessening feelings of depression, but will leave a desire for more and feeling of sluggishness when the stimulant wears off. Herbal teas (along with coconut juice, aloe juice, milk, pomegranate juice and sugar cane juice) are considered elixirs that are deeply refreshing, stress reducing, and bring about total rejuvenation.
Practice stress relieving yoga postures.When you’re feeling stressed and depressed, sometimes getting to the yoga studio adds another thing to your to-do list. Try practicing yoga poses specifically indicated for stress. You can do them anywhere. Shoulderstand, spine twist, locust pose, lion pose, half tortoise pose, and plow pose are all great places to start. If you’re new to yoga, make sure to check with an experienced yoga instructor to avoid injury.
Think your way through it.Our brains are different from the brain of a lion, tiger or bear because we have well developed frontal lobes that make us capable of insight. Identify areas of your life that are adding stress and see where you can make changes. Use logic. When we take a moment to analyze stress, although hearts break wide open for countless reasons, if we are able to see that there is more to life than all of our problems, stress and depression vanish.
Stretch your jaw.Tension builds in the shoulders and jaw. It’s common to walk around with our teeth clenched and our shoulders contracted without realizing it. Take a moment and open and close your mouth a few times, do some shoulder rolls. This takes no time and immediately reduces muscle tension.
Think positive.Negative thoughts are nine times more powerful than positive thoughts. Trying to operate with a negative attitude it like trying to drive a car with one foot on the gas pedal and one foot on the break. Change your mind.
Improve Digestion.The digestive system is where stress lands first. A significant amount of the body’s serotonin is produced in the gut. Serotonin is especially active in transmitting impulses between nerve cells, and contributing to wellbeing and happiness. Add turmeric, ginger and black pepper to your diet in the kitchen or in the form of a supplement and improve metabolism, and help regulate the body’s production of important neurotransmitters like serotonin
Help others.When we really feel sorry for ourselves, sincerely trying to help others is the best cure. Since we all have problems, when you are able to think of others, immediately you feel more expansive and empowered.
Say yes.“Love says yes to every thought, feeling and emotion. Love is all inclusive. Fear and anger say no. No means resistance and resistance breeds anger and fear. With fear and anger a person becomes stiff and rigid… To say yes means to surrender--to every thought, feeling and emotion. It means to let go, and letting go is a journey toward the heart. ” ~Dr. Vasant Lad
Changes in diet and lifestyle and implementation of herbal substances, teas and yoga postures are all helpful tools in reaching your ultimate goal of freedom from whatever holds you back from living in the present moment. When you take care of the physical body by living a healthy lifestyle, you will find it much easier to remain present. Living in the present moment gives space for you to fall in love with every moment of your life.