In our normal life it’s common to face daily stressors. But in this unique and uncertain time, for many, major stress is in the forefront of our daily lives. The loss of income from losing a job, shutting a business down, working from home, still needing to work outside the home in an essential profession, schooling kids at home, worrying about your own health or the health of loved ones, the list goes on.
We may be feeling an increase in fear, anxiety, overwhelm, insomnia and even panic. In Ayurveda, this is known as an imbalance in the Vata dosha or an increase in the elements of air and ether in the body. These elements are the lightest and most mobile of the 5 elements (which include fire, water and earth). To feel balanced, we need to add the quality of earth, which is the heaviest and most grounding element, in our mind and body through the 5 senses. If this is a time where the rug feels pulled out from underneath you and it feels like your stability has been taken away, the wisdom of Ayurveda understands that we have the power to help ourselves feel more balanced and secure when challenging times come our way.
Here are some Ayurvedic tips for reducing stress:
1. Slow Down
One of the best ways to begin to reduce stress, is to slow down from the fast pace of daily life. One of the best ways to do this is through devoted and purposeful self-care: taking time every single day to be still, quiet, and immersed in self-nourishment. Make time to practice pranayama and mediation each day. Even if it’s just 5 minutes every morning.
2. Self Care
Purposeful and committed self-care can be a beautiful part of the healing process, and a meaningful opportunity to practice self-love. Each day, regardless of what else might be going on in our lives, a devoted practice of self-care reaffirms a deep commitment to Self, to wellness, and to vibrant health. Ayurveda refers to daily self care practices at “dynacharya”. This can include abhyanga (self massage with oil), oil pulling, baths with essential oils, using a net pot, getting adequate rest, turning off the electronics an hour before bed and practicing yoga.
3. Commit to a Routine
Ayurveda recommends a daily routine for everyone, but it is particularly essential when we are trying to balance excess stress. Our physiology is very much adapted to—and supported by—some sense of regularity. Adopting a routine gives our nervous systems a number of comforting and reassuring reference points throughout each day. These touchstones send a resounding message to the deep tissues of the body that all is well, that we can be at ease. Over time, a context of predictability and safety allows the nervous system to relax, and a profound rejuvenation process can begin. Try to wake up and go to bed at the same time every day. Ideally getting up with the sun and winding down for bed by 9 or 10 pm. Having your meals at the same time each day is important as well for good digestion. Try to create a daily schedule that balances work, play and rest. Make a point to move your body for 30 minutes each day and get outside in nature.
4. Eat a Healthy Diet
The CDC is recommending sipping hot water throughout the day. This helps to digest and eliminate toxins that enter the mouth, avoiding the respiratory system. This has been a practice in Ayurveda for thousands of years. This system of medicine recommends starting each day with a cup of hot lemon water to get the digestive system working. When we have a strong digestive fire, our body doesn’t hold onto toxins as easy. Sip hot water throughout the days to stay healthy. This also includes eating warm, cooked foods. It’s best to focus on healthy, whole foods, and minimizing processed foods, stimulants, and refined sugars (which we often reach for when time is short and our bodies are craving nourishment). Now you may have the time to cook. Making home cooked meals with love is the best way to nourish our bodies. Root vegetables have a very earthy and grounding effect. So do healthy fats and oils.
5. Trust Your Own Process
Ayurveda is a very individualized practice and understands we are all unique. Honor where you’re at in the process. Change takes time. Slowly add one supportive thing in your life at a time. When it becomes comfortable, add something else. Know that we can’t control the world around us, just how we respond to the present moment.