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How To Reduce Anxiety?

By Dr Tabassum Hasan | Diseases | Posted on :   14-Jun-2021

Have you ever seen someone who worries too much about the future constantly and has this constant fear of uncertainty? Like they will think every negative prospect of a situation. Why do they have this fear? Is it normal to feel this way? How can we get rid of these feelings? You will find all these answers in this article.

Table of contents

• What is anxiety?
• Symptoms of anxiety
• Causes and risk factor
• When you need to see your doctor
• General tips for anxiety
• What to eat and avoid? 
• Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs) 
Also, Read► Combating Stress And Anxiety With Natural Herbs

What is Anxiety?

In Ayurveda, there are three qualities of mind(mano guna) primarily i.e. sattva, raja, and tama. 
Sattva guna is associated with positivity, consciousness, spirituality, and lightness. It represents knowledge and intellect and brings calmness to life.
Raja guna is the most active quality among the three. It is associated with excessive movement and stimulation. It is more focused on achievement and passion.

Tama guna is related to heaviness and inertia. It brings a negative attitude on the front leading to letharginess, excessive sleep, etc.
In Ayurveda, Anxiety is correlated with chittoudvega. Chittoudvega can be defined as chitta(mind) + udvega(anxiety) = chittoudvega (anxious state of mind). Chittoudvega is a psychiatric disorder due to vitiation in raja and tama doshas along with vata and pitta. People having alpa sattva is more prone to anxiety. 

Anxiety mainly comprises of two factors:
Fear:
unpleasurable feeling in response to danger and threat. 
Worry: thinking about unpleasant things that makes you feel unhappy and upsets you.
So chittaudvega or anxiety disorder is characterized by uncontrollable, irrational, and excessive worrying about everyday things that are not even going to happen.

Symptoms of Anxiety

As symptoms of anxiety may differ from person to person but some symptoms are common in all of them like persistent unrealistic worry often associated with muscle tension, insomnia, impaired concentration, feeling ‘on edge’, or restlessness. Other symptoms of anxiety are:
1.Sammoha(Illusion)
2.Angamarda(Body ache)
3.Ayasa(Easy fatiguability)
4.Ucchawasasyadhikyam(Dyspnoea)
5.Anannabhilasha(Anorexia)
6.Avipaka(indigestion)
7. Anidra( Insomnia)
8.Nidra nash(Disturbed sleep)
9.Shirash shoonyata(Numbness of mind)
10.Unmattachitattavam(Lack of concentration)
11.Krodh(anger)
12.Udvega(palpitations)
13.Swanokarnayo(Tinnitus)
Also, Read► Low fitness may increase depression and anxiety: Study

Causes And Risk Factor of Anxiety

In ayurvedic literature, it is believed that weak sattva leads to anxiety. Vitiation in raja and tama along with vata and pitta is responsible for this psychiatric disorder. Factors that cause anxiety are: 

1. Genetic Factor: In some families, it runs from one generation to the next. 
2. Traumatic Events: stressful events in life like workplace tension, Financial stress, death of a loved one can lead to anxiety. 
3.  Excessive Use of Alcohol: Alcoholic tendencies leads to vitiation of raja and tama doshas. 
4.  Health Issues: Some diseases like heart diseases, thyroid disorders can lead the person to depression. Slowly with time, it results in anxiety.

When You Need To See Your Doctor

It is very normal that you feel anxious before taking an exam or a job interview. But when a person starts having problems in making daily life decisions and worries too much that he/she can't concentrate then they need to consult a doctor. Generally, a diagnosis of anxiety is made when a person continuously feels anxious about everyday problems for more than 6 months.

General Tips For Anxiety

In today's world lifestyle is changing so fast and everybody is trying to fulfill all the physical desires. Everybody seems like he is carrying a weight across their shoulder. So psychiatric disorders like anxiety are quite often seen even in the younger generation. But some of the following tips may help you in relaxation and relieve that mental burden:

1. In Ayurveda weak sattva is considered responsible for mano roga(mental disorder). So sattvavajaya chikitsa(bringing the mind under control) is recommended for peace of mind. For this we should follow these tips:

A. Following ritucharya(seasonal regimen) and dinacharya(daily regimen): 
* We should include certain things in our daily lifestyle(dinacharya) like praying, having gratitude towards what we have, cleanliness and vyayam(exercise), etc. This will have a positive impact on our life. 
* In certain seasons people feel more anxious like in summers. So we should follow a particular regimen to avoid seasonal anxiety. 

 B. Sattva guna can be improved by following sadvritta(code of virtues). This includes:
• Moral and ethical conduct
• Truth, non-violence
• Personal hygiene etc. 
 The practice of sadvritta(behavioral approaches mainly) will reduce stress and anxiety. 

C. Annapanavidhi(dietary rules):
Here are few tips:
• Avoiding rajasic and tamasic foods like chili and caffeine. 
• Eating meals at the same time. 
• Including foods like kshira(milk), ghrita(ghee), draksha(grapes) in the diet to balance vata and pitta dosha.

2. Abhyanga(Body massage): Body massage is a great way to relieve tension and anxiety. One can simply have a tila taila(sesame oil) or sarshap taila(mustard oil) massage.   

3. Shirodhara(Streaming of medicated oil, milk, decoction on the forehead): Pouring medicated oils like chandanadi taila or even simple oils like sesame oil over the forehead can calm down those stressed nerves.  

4. Pranayam(Breathing exercises): Pranayam have some really good effect on anxiety. One should focus on inhalations and exhalations, and try to lengthen them with some pause. Pranayam like Anulom-vilom(alternate nostril breathing), kapalbhati, bhastrika, and bhramari can soothe your nerves.

5. Yoga and meditation: Some asanas in yoga can help to relieve symptoms of anxiety when practiced regularly like dhanurasan(bow pose), setu bandhasana(bridge pose), marjariasana(cat stretch), shirshaasan(headstand), etc.
Also, Read► Ways to deal with coronavirus anxiety

What To Eat And Avoid?

In ayurvedic literature, dietary habits held great importance in determining a person’s health. As in anxiety, we see symptoms like anannaabhilasha(anorexia) and avipaka(indigestion) related to the gastro intestinal system, it seems more important to focus on the diet of the person. So one should follow these rules:
• One should have regular meals at the same time.
• Eat warm food that is cooked in little oil or ghrita(ghee) to balance vata dosha.
• Include more sattvic foods in the diet like seasonal fruits and homemade simple meals.
• Drink milk mixed with kesar(saffron) before bedtime as it will help in sleep.
• Avoid processed foods like bakery items, frozen food and deep-fried food.
• Avoid rajasic and tamasic foods like chili, caffeine, and processed meats.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. What is anxiety?
Ans.
Anxiety or as we call it chittoudvega in Ayurveda is characterized by constantly worrying or feeling anxious all the time that a person might feel difficulty in his everyday life. One can also develop physical symptoms gradually like angamarda(body aches), anannaabhilasha(anorexia), anidra(insomnia), etc.

Q2. How can we avoid it?
Ans.
As Ayurveda believes in nidana parivarjan(removal of the cause) as its first line of treatment, adopting a yogic lifestyle may help in preventing anxiety. The yamas and niyamas(principles) of yoga can help you achieve that sattvic lifestyle. For instance, the shaucha principle is all about the cleanliness of the mind and body. The Santosh principle talks about contentment with whatever you have in your life. Also, the aparigraha principle can help in controlling our desires to possess more. 
One should also eat nutritious food and lead a healthy lifestyle with the help of yoga, pranayama, and dhyana(meditation). 

Q3. How can I relieve stress and anxiety naturally?
Ans.
Most natural ways to combat anxiety are getting good sleep, exercising, reducing caffeine intake, laughter therapy, practicing breathing exercises, and reducing the causes of stress in your life. Mindfulness, physical connection with your partner, and spending time with your family and friends can also do wonders in this scenario. Just take things slowly and follow one day at a time rule. 

Ayurvedic Treatment For Stress And Anxiety
Ayurveda not only talks about physical health but also the mental health of a person is equally important which makes it a complete science for a living. For anxiety also, Ayurveda focuses on both prospects.
Acharya Charak has recommended 3 methods of treatment:
• Daivavyapashraya chikitsa (Spiritual or divine treatment)
• Yukti vyapashraya chikitsa (Logical therapy)
• Satwavajaya chikitsa (Psychotherapy) 

1. For daivavyapasraya chikitsa, one should pray to god, give charity, chant different mantras, etc. These practices will lift the spirits of the patient and they can feel more contented in themselves. 

2. Yukti vyapashraya or as we may call it drug therapy, targets proper diet, medication, and rasayanas also. 
Shodhan therapy (Body detoxification) like nasya(nasal instillation), Abhyanga(body massage), virechana(purgation), basti(enema), shirolepa, taildhara can be helpful in effectively treating this condition.

3. Satwavajaya chikitsa also plays an important role in this. In this, we provide counseling for managing different issues, replace negative thoughts, and restrain the mind from unnecessary thinking by analytical thinking, courage, and knowledge. Different mental disorders which can induce anxiety-like anger issues, PTSD and different type of phobias can also be treated under this.

Ayurvedic Medicine For Stress And Anxiety
There are several medicines in Ayurveda to treat anxiety that have shown amazing results. Medicines like Brahmi ghrita, ashwagandha churna, kalyanak ghrita, panchagavya ghrit, saraswatarishta, sarpagandha, jatamansi, etc are being used by ayurvedic practitioners to tackle this situation. 

Q4. What herbs are good for stress and anxiety?
Ans.
Herbs like Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri), jatamansi (Nardostachys jatamansi), shankhpushpi (Convolvulus pluricaulis), ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), and bhringraj (Eclipta alba) are well-known herbs for anxiety disorder. They help in reducing stress levels, detoxifying the body, and calm your mind. You can simply incorporate them into your lifestyle as tea, oils, or powdered form and get various benefits. Even external application is beneficial in some cases.

Q5. Can anxiety go away naturally?
Ans.
Mild cases of anxiety can go away after the issue causing it is resolved. But if you have an anxiety disorder or repetitive attacks, then you might need to see your doctor.

Q6. What is the 333 rule for anxiety?
Ans.
As anxiety can flare up at any time of your day, it's really important to take care of your mental health as you do for your body. 333 rule can be really helpful to manage your anxiety attacks. For this, look around you and name 3 things you see. Then focus on your hearing and name 3 sounds that you hear.  At last move 3 of your body parts like your fingers, legs, or arms. During this whole process remember to take slow and deep breaths. This is a proven effective method to stop your mind to overthink and calm down your mind.

Q7. What foods to avoid if you have anxiety?
Ans.
Different processed foods like bakery goods, frozen food, refined cereals, candy, and fried food are not good for you if you are dealing with anxiety. Also, caffeine, chili, and processed meat should be avoided. 

References

• Agnivesh, “Charak Samhita” revised by Charaka & Dridhbala with “Ayurved Deepika commentary”, by Chkarapanidatta, edited by Vd. Jadavaji Trikamji Acharya, published by Chaukhamba Surbharati Prakashan, Varanasi, Reprint-2008, Ch.Vi 6/5 pp.254. 
• Acharya YT. Charaka: Charaka Samhita with Āyurveda Deepika Commentary of Chakrapani: Chaukhambha Orientalia; Varanasi 2002, 383,384 
• Acharya Jadavaji Trikamji, editor. Charaka Samhita of Agnivesha, Sutra Sthana, Ch. 1/Ver. 54; 5th ed. Varanasi: Chaukhambha Sanskrit Sanst han; 2001.
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Read More► Anxiety: Causes, Symptoms And Ayurvedic Treatment

Dr Tabassum Hasan

Consultant Physician, NirogStreet

Get Free Consultation 9625991603 | 9625991607 | 8595299366

Disclaimer - The aim of the article is just to convey information to you. Use any medicine, therapy, herb or fruit please do it under the guidance of a qualified Ayurveda doctor.