Ask the Ayurvedic Expert: Stress

Mental Stress

I’m a second year student in Chiropractic College and spend 6 to 8 hours a day studying. I can see how this mental strain would aggravate my Vata. But why would I suffer from frequent colds and flu, which seem more like a Kapha imbalance?
- J.T., Illinois

You need to balance two doshas at the same time — Vata and Kapha.

The Vata imbalance dries and aggravates the Kapha. The result is Kapha symptoms such as excess mucus and congestion.

The mental stress aggravates Prana Vata (mental activity), which upsets Vyana Vata (circulation).

The Vyana imbalance has a drying effect. Shleshaka Kapha (lubrication and moisture balance) works overtime trying to counteract the dryness with excess mucus.

Vyana Vata is like the wind. A little bit stokes the digestive fire, but a big wind blows the fire out. Then, digestive impurities (ama) accumulate.

The ama interacts with your Vyana and Shleshaka. The result is a phlegm-like toxin called Shleshma. It's difficult for the body to eliminate and is a fertile breeding ground for viruses such as the flu.

The frequency of the colds and flu is due to perpetuating this entire process over time, which weakens the immune system.

Diet and lifestyle tips:

  • Don't stay up late to study. Go to bed by 10 p.m., then wake up early to study.
  • Do not sleep much past dawn or during the day. It increases Kapha.
  • Spice your food with turmeric, ginger and garlic cooked in ghee (clarified butter).
  • Follow a light Vata diet. That means less heavy, oily foods that increase Kapha.
  • Take clove, licorice and Organic Vata Tea.
  • Take Mind Plus to strengthen and balance the mind. In addition, Worry Free tablets help calm the mind quickly.
  • Drink plenty of warm water.
  • Maintain regular meal times. Don't overeat.
  • Walk after lunch and dinner to aid digestion. Keep exercise moderate.
  • Keep warm during the cold winter weather. Wear a hat outdoors.

Migraine Headaches

I get migraine headaches when I am in the bright sun, hot weather, bright light or heat. What is the reason behind it, and how can it be controlled? During summer, I cannot go outdoors at all. During winter, I can't stand the heat in the house.
- J.K., Virginia

I've seen this type of heat-related Pitta headaches with other clients. It's always best to see an ayurvedic physician. Also try these self-care recommendations in your diet and daily routine:

Follow a Pitta-pacifying diet. Favor sweet, bitter, astringent, cool, heavy and dry foods. Reduce or avoid foods that are pungent, sour, salty, hot, light and oily.

  • Take the Aci-Balance formula.
  • Take Organic Rose Petal Spread in the morning.
  • Don't skip meals.
  • Before bed, drink cool milk (after boiling) blended with a couple of dates.
  • Don't overwork. Take enough rest and leisure time.
  • Avoid the hot sun and hot temperatures. Stay cool.

Holiday Blues

Why do I sometimes feel depressed during the holidays? How can I offset holiday blues?

Maharishi Ayurveda looks at emotional responses in the context of life as a whole: mind, body, behavior and environment. And it recognizes that emotional responses are often exacerbated by such controllable areas of life as diet and routine. If something sad has happened in your life, that fact often can't be changed. But it is very possible to decrease its negative influence on you, by bringing your physiology into balance.

Depression is often a sign of Kapha imbalance, and one way to address it is through variety. If the holidays make you feel depressed, plan ahead of time to stay busy. Make a conscious effort to be more active and to seek out stimulating activities. Also, don't overeat. Favor foods that pacify Kapha dosha — foods that are light, dry and warm and have a pungent, astringent or bitter taste. Avoid excessive amounts of sweet, sour or salty foods.

Regular exercise is helpful. Take a brisk walk in the fresh air, especially in the early morning, to clear your mind and recharge your body. The Blissful Joy tablets can help uplift your emotions.

The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.