Managing Anxiety- An Ayurvedic Approach
By Ami Jayaprada Hirschstein, AHC, C-IAYT
According to a study just released by The American Psychological Association, 80% of US adults have been under significant increased stress during the pandemic. The World Health Organization, estimates that stress related disorders and other mental health diseases will be the second leading cause of disability by the year 2020. Stress alters not only our mood, it affects our bodies' chemistry and thus our overall health and immunity. Both Ayurveda and its sister science, Yoga, have been clinically proven to help alleviate anxiety.
Anxiety is known as Cittodvega and a symptom of Unmada (disorders of the mind), and is a due to the aggravation of vata. In the early stages vata is aggravated along with rajas, with chronic anxiety involving both aggravated vata and tamas. Rajas is kinetic energy. When it is in balance, rajas gives us motivation. We live in a culture prone to aggravated vata and rajas because it emphasizes, multi-tasking, over-working, and overstimulating the senses. This “burning the candle at both ends” lifestyle leads to the mind and Sympathetic Nervous System (fight or flight) becoming overactive.
This affects how we see and experience the world and thus influences our behavior. It can become a vicious cycle, each feeding the other until it spirals out of control. Left untreated, this aggravated raja can lead to complete exhaustion. This is when tamas takes over. Tamas is dull and heavy. Balanced tamas is necessary for sleep and rest. Aggravated tamas causes brain fog, lethargy, and depression. Therefore, people can swing from anxiety to depression and back again. (We will focus on depression in another article.)
Treatment of Cittodvega
As anxiety involves both the dosas of the body (vata) and mind (rajas and tamas), treatment must address both. We must work on sattva building and pacifying vata. Sattva is peaceful, meditative and allows for Viveka (discernment). It is our natural state of being. We can build sattva through good moral conduct, following the Niyamas, helping others, being in nature and through spiritual practices.
Prevention: We Need to Actively Work on These
- Engage your intellect by exercising your brain. Learn something!
- Develop patience, courage & gratitude.
- Feed your spirit. This could be by sitting in nature, prayer, ritual, mantra, helping others or anything else that satisfies you spiritually and is sattvic.
- Balance your dosas.
- Sattva building.
- Yoga & Meditation
- A good night’s sleep. Good sleep is a great way to pacify vata.
- Vata gets pacified through routine: waking, eating, and exercising the same time each day.
- Do gentle - moderate exercise, such as gentle yoga and walking. Vigorous exercise will aggravate vata and rajas.
- Meditate daily.
- Be outside for at least ½ hr. each day. Nature builds sattva.
- Write in a gratitude journal daily. This helps your mind to focus on the positive.
- Try to reduce rushing around and find moments of stillness. Take breaks.
- Take media breaks (electronics affect dopamine levels.)
- Try some self-care like Abhyanga (oil self-massage).
- Spend time winding-down before bed each night.
- Do Nadi Shodhana pranayama before bed. Watch my video on How to do Nadi Shodana.
- Try Pada Abhyanga by massaging feet with medicated oil for 5 minutes, keep oil on for 5-10 more minutes, soak feet in hot water, dry and put on cotton socks.) before bed if having sleep issues.
- Improve digestion by making lunch your biggest meal.
- Eat a lighter dinner at least 3 hours before bed.
- Reduce vata by avoiding cold, raw, dry, crunchy and vata aggravating foods.
- Cook with spices that enliven digestion and pacify vata.
- Avoid leftovers, processed, canned, frozen, and microwaved foods.
- Try to eat three full meals a day. Skipping meals aggravated vata.
- Give thanks before you eat. Make eating a meditation.
Kottakkal Products for Managing Anxiety
- Dhanwantaram Oil for Abhyanga and Pada Abhyanga.
- Dhanwantaram Kwatham for general anxiety and vata imbalances.
- Brahmi Caps for anxiety with memory or concentration issues.
- Kalyanaka Ghritam for anxiety with depletion, calms “fight or flight” nervous system.
- Manasamitra Vatakam for anxiety with sleep disturbances.
- Dasamula Arishtam for anxiety with low agni (digestive fire).
- Brahmi Ghritam for anxiety with insomnia or concentration issues.
- Dhanwantaram (101) Oil for nasya to help general anxiety.
Meet the Author
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Kottakkal Ayurveda products and this information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of any disease. If you have serious, acute, or chronic health problems, please consult a trained health professional. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained Ayurvedic practitioner or doctor, call (800) 215-9934 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will provide you with one of our affiliated Ayurvedic professionals. Check with your doctor before taking herbs when pregnant or nursing.