Self-Care Guide: Energy

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Wiping Away Fatigue

Are you feeling brain-dead, emotionally stressed out, or just plain pooped? If so, you have company. Researchers report that the majority of adult Americans today suffer from stress and tiredness.

A stress-driven body and mind is the major cause of fatigue, and unfortunately, for many people this is a normal state of living in today's hectic world. Most people have lost touch with the normal experience of "calm energy," which is a state of low tension and high energy that allows for optimism, confidence, and the stamina necessary to enjoy success, love and happiness.

Happily, Maharishi Ayurveda is well-equipped to restore balance and combat the underlying causes of the general, stress-related tiredness that many Americans suffer from today.

What Causes Fatigue?

According to The Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians, fatigue is caused by overuse, misuse or no use of the mind, emotions or body. For instance, your job may be easy for you, but if you have to put in a lot of overtime, that can result in fatigue.

Misuse is doing something that is against your nature. If you are an honest person, and you find yourself in a situation where you feel pressured to lie or cheat, that misuse of your mental faculties could cause you to feel fatigued.

An example of physical misuse is knowing that a physical task is beyond your capability, but doing it anyway. Or perhaps your heart is very tender, and you are surrounded by people who are habitually angry — an example of emotional misuse.

Even lack of use can cause fatigue. "Use it or lose it" applies not only to the body, but to the brain and emotions as well.

The first step in correcting fatigue is to determine the cause. You can ask yourself if your fatigue is caused by physical, mental or emotional factors. And is it caused by overuse, misuse or lack of use?

Once you know which behavior is causing the fatigue, you must, of course, stop that behavior. Become familiar with your stress-point and your own level of comfort. The solution to the problem of fatigue is found in one sentence: proper use of the mind, body and emotions.

The Three Doshas and Fatigue

There is a relationship between the three doshas and the three main types of fatigue. Mental fatigue is associated with an imbalance in Vata dosha; emotional fatigue is caused by an imbalance in Pitta dosha; and physical fatigue is caused by an imbalance in Kapha dosha.

Ama, or impurities caused by undigested food, is a major cause of all three types of fatigue. To avoid all types of fatigue, avoid leftovers; fast foods; foods grown with chemical fertilizers or sprayed with pesticides; or packaged, canned, frozen or processed foods.

The Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians makes the following recommendations for each type of fatigue:

For Mental Fatigue:

For Emotional Fatigue:

For Physical Fatigue:

  • Kapha-pacifying diet and daily routine
  • To burn away ama, boil two quarts of water and steep with the following herbs: 3 leaves of holy basil, 3 leaves of mint, 1/4 t. cumin seed, 1 piece of clove, 1/4 t. coriander. Drink it throughout the day.

Depending on your mind-body type and imbalances, you may be more susceptible to certain types of fatigue. By consulting a physician trained in Maharishi Ayurveda, you can learn specific recommendations for restoring your natural energy levels based on your body type and imbalances. The following three case histories explain how mental, emotional, and physical fatigue can be addressed using the principles of Maharishi Ayurveda.

Mental Fatigue

Laura, 32 and single, was a buyer for a large department store and had advanced rapidly in the past four years. However, she found herself aging rapidly, and was alarmed to see dark circles under her eyes, premature wrinkles, and a dull, pasty complexion rather than the rosy-red cheeks of her college years. Despite taking prescribed sleeping medication, she was unable to fall asleep at night. At least three times a week she felt utter mental exhaustion by the end of the day. She was frightened that her mind would not be able to keep up with her increasing responsibilities, and suffered from frequent tension headaches. She smoked, took aspirin for her headaches and diet pills to stay thin.

Laura's problems were caused by an imbalance in Vata dosha, which is typical in cases of mental fatigue, and were compounded by her smoking and medications. Calming activities such as gardening and leisurely walks, along with regular practice of Transcendental Meditation®, helped her stay relaxed, yet alert and composed. Aromatherapy, using Calming Vata Aroma Oil, also helped.

Now, months later, Laura is a changed person. She does not use medication for sleep any longer, and feels recharged in both mind and body.

Emotional Fatigue

A 37-year-old mother of two children aged 7 and 10, Maryana held down a full-time job as head of marketing for a major corporation. Her principal complaint was overwhelming fatigue. Her energy level dropped so low that she often felt annoyed to the point of anger by her children's natural needs for her time and attention. She felt guilty for being an unloving mother and neglectful wife. She often woke up in the middle of the night worrying, and caught every flu or cold her children came home with. Drinking eight cups of coffee to get through each day only added to her irritability and fatigue. In her own words, she was continually upset with her husband, her children, her friends — even the dishwasher repairman — about nothing, absolutely nothing at all.

Maryana had placed herself under tremendous emotional stress. She needed to build some deep rest into her day to help eliminate that stress. So she started the Transcendental Meditation program to provide deep rest and eliminate stress. She turned off her portable phone, which she habitually answered even during meals and in bed.

She started on a Pitta-pacifying diet and daily routine, along with Cooling Spice Mixture and Organic Pitta Tea instead of coffee to help balance her emotions and nurture her body-type. She also stopped eating excessive amounts of white sugar for a false energy rush, stopped skipping meals, and ate a pear or a whole-grain bagel between meals when she felt hungry.

Maryana also started on the powerful antioxidant Amrit to retard intracellular decay and energy loss due to excessive free radicals, and to give a boost to her immune system, and on Elim-Tox-O to help remove the toxins that had accumulated in her liver from eating ama-producing fast foods on the run. Deep Rest addressed her Pitta-based sleep problems.

In just three months Maryana reported that she had only occasional fatigue when she would "overdo," but not the bone-wearing fatigue that had once been her constant companion. Her emotional and physical symptoms gradually washed away and she felt that her life, though still complex, was back in balance.

Physical Fatigue

A 35-year-old lawyer, Paul was married and the father of one. He had recently become a partner in a large firm, and reported difficulty in maintaining the competitive pace. Exercise had fallen by the wayside, and he had put on 25 pounds in the last year alone. He took a variety of laxatives and antacids for his sluggish digestion and frequent constipation.

Even though he slept eight hours a night, Paul felt exhausted when he woke up. While he used to have great physical stamina, he now found himself with frequent chest congestion and wheezed while climbing flights of stairs. His knees ached and he felt and looked ten years older than his age. Worse, he wasn't sure he could keep up with his job, because his thinking had become slower and duller. He frequently felt congested in body, mind and spirit.

Paul's complaints were due to a Kapha imbalance and lack of exercise. To restore balance, he started a program of gradual weight loss, because that was contributing to a vicious cycle of physical fatigue. He took the Be Trim Tea to help stimulate his digestion and metabolize fat. His life had become too sedentary and sluggish, so he started on an exercise program and used Joint Soothe II to support his knees and other joints.

A daily abhyanga (ayurvedic massage) using Youthful Skin Massage Oil for Men also stimulated his digestion and moved out toxins. Paul also learned the Transcendental Meditation program, and started a Kapha-pacifying diet and daily routine, using ghee in his diet instead of butter. He started drinking five bottles of room-temperature water each day to clear away ama, and took Amrit (without sugar) to restore balance to mind and body.

After ten weeks Paul had lost 15 pounds, his mind had become more agile and quick, and he was able to maintain his energy level at a steady pace without any symptoms of exhaustion.

Two final points of advice for dealing with fatigue: Start cutting back on coffee, coca cola, caffeinated teas, and sleeping pills to allow your body to reestablish a natural rest and activity cycle.

Second, schedule enough rest each day. The human nervous system and body is not designed for a constant diet of tension, pressure, speed and excitement. It must have adequate rest to permit natural regeneration and recuperation, and to experience natural energy and joy.

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Disclaimer
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.