Looking for a holistic approach to mental health?
AYURVEDA treats the whole mind-body complex. Read on to learn how you can be mentally strong and happy.
Loneliness , anxiety, depression, insomnia, substance abuse and suicidal thoughts. All these are either a result of severe stressors or in themselves can cause severe stress the Covid-19 pandemic has increased stress levels greatly.
Ayurveda’S approach to mental wellness
AYURVEDA offers holistic approach to mental health that integrates the mind, body and soul.
AYURVEDA defines mental state as a state of mental, intellectual and spiritual well being .It’s focus is on prevention through correct diet, exercise, meditation Our AYURVEDIC constitution is composed of three DOSHAS and their imbalances cause diseases.
- VATA DOSHA ( made of space and air ) IMBALANCE : causes anxiety and phobias.
- PITTA DOSHA ( made of fire and water) IMBALANCE : causes anger and obsessions.
- KAPHA DOSHA ( forms the body structure ) IMBALANCE : causes depression.
LIKEWISE , we all go through phases of feeling uplifted or lethargic . These are the attributes of the mind ( GUNAS ).
Imbalances of the GUNAS in the body affect the mind because of majja ( nervous system ) . Nervous tissue is very sensitive to changes in the blood chemistry ( rasa ) , including any toxins in the blood , and these in turn affects the mind .
Digestive toxins ( ama ) in the bloodstream can irritate nervous tissue , making your nervous feel frayed ( tired ) often , these toxins come from digestive system , so taking good care of digestive health is a key factor in mental health.
- SATTVA GUNA : Give rise to clarity , equilibrium , light , intelligence , compassion.
- RAJAS GUNA : Ignites kinetic energy , movement , passion and the ability to act.
- TAMAS GUNA : Responsible for inertia , darkness , heaviness , slowness , sleep and decay.
Ayurvedic mental health management
Lets understand this by some simple examples :
- CASE 1 : RAMESH is 15 , with an anxiety diagnosis , fear of the dark , disturbed sleep , travelling aches and pains and allergies . Based on a comprehensive assessment his case is managed through classical VATA balancing.
- CASE 2 : SIYA is a 27 – year – old techie with anger issues due to which she lost her job. She is ambitious , intellectual , restless and indulges in drinking and late night parties and have spicy foods despite suffering from hyperacidity . In her case , we try to manage PITTA imbalance and will reduce RAJAS by raising SATTVA
- CASE 3 : RAAVI is 49 with Type 2 bipolar disorder . She is very stable but has menopausal mood swings . We make sure she stays on her medication . In this case we find issues with AGNI, VATA – PITTA imbalance , a tendency to burn out.
Ayurvedic methods to enhance mental health
- Yoga and breathwork – Harvard Medical School has recommended Yoga to deal with Covid , anxiety and depression.
- Meditation – It opens up your brain. SKY Breath Meditation is a natural mode of Vagus Nerve stimulation leading to many health benefits.
- Sattvik food – Have fresh, not over spiced, easy to digest and natural food with lots of fruits and vegetables. Consume whole grains and lentils and avoid white sugar , processed, junk foods.
- Sadvrutta – Positive practices like patience , a healthy routine , regular exercise and meditation.
2.Preventive health and restoring balance
- Three pillars – Base of a good health includes a nutritious diet, adequate sleep and a balanced lifestyle.In AYURVEDA managing digestive and metabolic fire is the starting point to attain DOSHAS balance for mental and physical health.
- Follow Dincharya( daily regime) and Ritucharya (seasonal regime ) – Consume only those foods , fruits and vegetables which are favourable in that season, else will lead to imbalance in DOSHAS
- Herbs – consult an Ayurvedic practitioner before taking herbs.
MEDHYA RASAYANA ( brain tonics) boost immunity and it include bramhi, amlaki , ashwagandha , shankhapushpi, shakti drops , kalyanaka ghrita , saraswatharishtam and chyawanprash.
4.Cleansingtherapies – Do Abhyanga ( self – massage ) , Nasya ( oil or herb applicationi in the nostrils) or therapies like Shirodhara ( pouring of warm medicated oil on the forehead ) and panchakarma ( a comprehensive individualised therapeutic cleanse ).
5.Boosting immunity – Yoga and meditation boosts immunity.
3. SOOTHE THE SENSES
Soothing the senses through Pratyahar ( sensory withdrawl ) and avoid digital load , practice aromatherapy , try soothing mind , oil pulling ( Kaval and Gandush ) and have nutritional food .
4. NUTURE RELATIONSHIPS
keep yourself socially connected while distanced. This is also the time to heal our relationship with nature and commit to sustainability.
Tonics for mind according to doshas
Vata mental tonics
Vata disorders tend to be light , dry and mobile (fear , anxiety ), so tonics should be heavy, oily and which provide strength to the nerves.
- Self – massage with sesame oil is recommended. This oil soothes the nervous system and pacifies vata.
- Use of healthy fats like ghee or raw sesame oil in your diet.
- Avoid bad fats such as overheated fats in fried foods.
- Shankhpushpi can be used to reduce insomnia and anxiety.
- Ashwagandhha is a staple tonic for vata.
PITTA MENTAL TONICS
Imbalance in the body which leads to anger , frustration and stress shows PITTA imbalance so tonics which are related to PITTA DOSHA should be cool and calm.
- Regular self – massage with coconut oil.
- Bhringaraj oil can be used for scalp massage , reduces mental aggravation.
- Few drops of Brahmi oil in each nostril cools mind , removes stress and increases strength in the mind.
KAPHA MENTAL DISORDERS
KAPHA disorders of mind are heavy , dull and slow such as depression.Tonics for it should be light and invigorating to reduce the damp , heavy sluggish feeling.
- Shilajit is a warm , light , drying and penetrating.It lifts mental sluggishness , depression and mental ama associated with kapha.
- Kapha individuals can rub Vacha powder on their skin.
- Take ginger , baking soda baths to stimulate their body and get relief from the stress.
MENTAL HEALTH MANAGEMENT DURING PANDEMICS
FOR PREVENTION , management and recovery from illness lifestyle modifications like Yoga and Meditation are recommended . In addition to these principles , a recent review of AYURVEDA and Mental Health advocated that to fight with covid–19
SKY Breath meditation and Yoga are effective tools .
This pandemic has reminded us how precious life is ; lets focus self – care and remember , we are together in this . AYURVEDA recommends meditation for immunity and mental health.
The body and mind work together and both must be taken into consideration . When seeking health and wellness. Ayurveda offers a practical system of balancing the GUNAS in the blood and reducing digestive toxins to stabilize the nervous system. Ayurveda also provides a diet and lifestyle compatible with your DOSHAS to reduce mental imbalances. Tonics can be used to make your mind always healthy and happy.