AYURVEDA FOR MENTAL HEALTH

Ayurvedic methods of mental health (Manas Shastra) management focus on prevention, gentle intervention and do not stigmatize mental health.

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1. Increase Sattva and Practice Self Care

Recommended ways to improve Sattva  route  is to do  Yoga or stretching, Pranayama and meditation.

  • Yoga: Find an experienced yoga practitioner online or try some stretches based on your physical ability and personal preference.
  • Breathwork: Nadishodhan (alternate nostril breathing) and deep breathing or abdominal breathing) are calming and grounding.
  • Meditation: Try a guided meditation, spend a few minutes internalizing with eyes closed or learn a practice of meditation
  • Follow a routine, getting enough exercise and having a healthy, fresh nutritious diet.
  • Practice self care by reading, journing, taking online courses to enhance skills, stay creative and engaged, be kind to yourself and take a break when necessary.

2. Balance Agni and Doshas

To bring both mind and body in balance and enhance a sense of contentment and wellbeing do:

 

  • Follow personal and seasonal balancing of Doshas
  • ‘Take a deep breath’ – internalizing and balance are key in navigating this time.
  • Get enough sleep and exercise and sticking to a routine.
  • Eat well, planning ahead to prevent succumbing to food cravings (with healthy snacks like nuts, seeds and raisins instead of candy) and taking breaks.

Knowledge of one’s Prakriti, Vikrati, Ayurvedic guidelines for good health that include the three pillars of health, Nutrition (Aahar), Sleep (Nidra) and balanced Lifestyle (Vihar) and following Dinacharya (daily regimen) and Ritucharya (seasonal regimen) guidelines help in Ayurvedic management of mental health. Seek an Ayurvedic consultation to find out more.

3. Try a cleanse!

When the Agni or digestive and metabolic fire is hampered, Ama or toxins build up and are a cause of all physical and mental ailments. These toxins can be endogenous, environmental and psychological and you have to be careful about toxic news, relationships and psychological inputs. Cleansing lends clarity, helps get rid of Ama, restores health and wellbeing and prevents future recurrence of diseases. Our Fall Rejuvenation program officially starts later this year, though our Vaidyas are available for one-on-one online consultations and can support you with a personalized program that is seasonally appropriate anytime.

4. Have a nourishing diet

Nutritional psychology and psychiatry are buzzwords now but the food mood connection has always been acknowledged by Ayurveda.

We recommend warm, easy to digest fresh food and using seasonally appropriate spices and herbs like turmeric, cumin, black pepper, ginger, Tulsi, cardamom and coriander.

Favor plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, good fats and try to incorporate the six tastes or Shadrasa in your diet. Avoid processed, cold and raw foods as much as possible. Make sure to hydrate enough in-between meals.

5. Get adequate sleep

Studies have shown that inadequate sleep can impair cognition, focus, increase sadness and anxiety and impact immunity; the Dinacharya practices of Ayurveda that promote sleep are corroborated by the science of circadian rhythms. Guidelines to follow include:

  • It’s best to sleep before 10pm Kapha time (unless you have an imbalance);
  • Take a media break a few hours before sleeping
  • Eat 2-3 hours before hitting the bed
  • Have a soothing nighttime ritual (you could apply oil under your feet, but make sure to wear socks to avoid slipping if you get up!).
  • Get adequate sleep; the dinacharya practises of Ayurveda are corroborated by the science of circadian rhythms. Try to avoid day time sleep which increases Kapha or lethargy.

6. Maintain a balanced lifestyle

These are basic but so effective when practiced for mind and body harmony. Eat at regular mealtimes and ensure that staying or working from home doesn’t disrupt your routines. Make time to follow your hygiene practices – they help you stay healthy and “feel right.” Get some exercise each day and spend time in nature which is grounding and relaxing.

7. Stay distanced – but socially connected

Ayurveda pays attention to one’s connection with family and community, and studies have shown nurturing relationships improves longevity and mental health.

If you need more connection, try Seva or volunteering online which has many physical and mental health benefits like reducing hypertension and depression, besides providing a social connection and intellectual stimulation. Your spiritual life is also a great source of support and always with you.

8. Avoid overstimulation of senses

Schedule breaks during your work or school day to breathe, rest your eyes, internalize or go for a nature walk. Media breaks minimize digital overload and also help you to be more mindful.

We perceive the world through our sensory organs and taking care of them is part of a healthy Dinacharya that protects our mental health.  Soothe the sense organs/senses in the following ways:

  • Eyes/Visual – Akshi Tarpana, Color Therapy, periodically resting the eyes and doing eye exercises
  • Nose/Smell/Respiration – Nasya, Net Pot, steam inhalation and Aromatherapy with essential oils
  • Skin/Tactile – Abhyanga, Shirodhara and Marma. These practices go much beyond soothing the tactile sense and are employed in many therapeutic ways.
  • Ears/Hearing – Karna Poorna (medicated oil in the ears), Chanting and Soothing music
  • Tongue/Taste – Tongue cleaning, having nourishing food at regular meal times, herbal teas, avoiding overeating

9. Attend to immunity and Ojas

Systemic prophylaxis or prevention focuses on overall health. Rasayana. rejuvenating therapies are a specialty of Ayurveda to boost immunity and involve immunomodulatory herbs and a nourishing diet with dairy, ghee and honey, practices like silence, internalization, self-care and Achara Rasayana.

Local prophylaxis or prevention measures include:

  • Pratimarsa Nasya (application of one or two drops of oil like sesame oil in the nostrils)
  • Steam inhalation
  • Gargling with a herbal decoction,
  • Having hot food
  • Drinking warm water and herbal teas

You can also try herbs and formulations that boost immunityRasayana herbs, specifically Medhya Rasayanas or brain tonics are immunomodulatory, rejuvenating herbs and adaptogens that help with mental health and boost immunity. These include Guduchi or Amruth, Brahmi, Yashtimadhu, Amalaki, Ashwagandha, Holy Basil, Guggulu, Brahmi Ghrita, Kalyanaka Ghrita, Chyawanprash and Manasamitra Vatakam. Many of the herbs in clinical trials for COVID-19 work simultaneously on mental health and immunity.

10. Try a self-massage!

Try a self massage or therapies like Nasya, Abhyanga and Shirodhara (at an Ayurvedic facility if you’re comfortable, if it is available and allowed in your county). Some therapies include:

  • Nasya – Nasya involves application of warm medicated oils or herbal remedies in the nostrils in a therapeutic manner and studies have shown it has a calming effect on the mind, improves clarity and enhances memory. You could start a Pratimarsha or daily Nasya with 1-2 drops of Anu Taila, Sesame oil or ghee.
  • Shirodhara or continuous pouring of warm, medicated oil on the forehead is traditionally used for anxiety, insomnia and PTSD.
  • Abhyanga – therapeutic massages with regular oils like sesame or coconut oils or medicated oils.

Other individualized therapies like Shirolepa, Takradhara and Shirobasti as prescribed by the Ayurvedic practitioner.

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