“Brain cells create ideas. Stress kills brain cells. Stress is not a good idea,” says a modern philosopher.
Whether our stress is caused from work, routine, or relationships, most of us, at some point in our lives, are faced with the uncomfortable symptoms of stress. These symptoms may manifest in a number of ways including worry, fatigue, increased anger, problems with relationships, inability to focus properly, stress headaches, trouble sleeping, and a variety of stress-related health issues.
But don’t stress out — ayurveda has many powerful time-tested tips to counteract stress! Here are a few of our favorites:
1. Restore inner balance
Do you feel that you are rushing from one activity to the next during the day? Have you ever experienced that feeling that there is never enough time in the day? The stress of a packed, tight schedule over the long term may negatively affect our health and our ability to handle all the diversity in our environment. Do you feel you are in a stressful relationship with “time?” This may decrease emotional resilience and leave us feeling hostile (Pitta under pressure), sad (Kapha under pressure), trapped (fear – Vata under pressure); or we may start to resent our “busy” lives, all the good we have, and those close to us. It can affect all aspects of our lives.
Take this quick quiz to observe your relationship with time:
Sit quietly for five minutes, with your eyes closed.
At the end of the five minutes, observe. Were you restless, worried or bored? Or calm, comfortable and relaxed? Did you open your eyes to check if the five minutes were over yet? Did your shoulders and neck feel tense? Were you, in that period, able to filter out the noise of life and tune in to yourself? If we are restless and agitated, this is a sign that perhaps we need some help.
Time-related stress happens because we lose connection with our innermost needs; we chase external goals and we lose connection with the silent, stable source within. The result: our body, mind and heart develop conflicting interests — the mind insists on going on while the body feels tired and the heart feels heavy. To reset our clock, therefore, we need to reestablish our inner connection. The practice of Transcendental Meditation® allows us to effortlessly experience our silent core at the source of thought, and this in turn increases our capacity for intuitive thought — a highly accurate inner compass, or inner ear. As our body, mind and heart become more integrated, our natural balance is restored and we tend to slow down internally; our resistance to stress, our resilience, goes up; and we seem to make better decisions.
2. Rest during down time
Even when you feel that you have no time, give yourself some quiet time. The logic is simple: all life evolves, grows and is sustained through cycles of rest and activity. Rest is the basis of dynamic activity. So our recreation, rest, or down time becomes medicinal.
Creatively carve out time during your workday by finding ways to efficiently achieve your workload while conserving your time — eliminate unnecessary steps, avoid procrastination, prioritize, delegate, and try to avoid distractions. Each of these will free up time and energy for more productive work. During your down time, which may simply be a few minutes, take a walk outside or around your office, gaze out your office window at the clouds or trees blowing in the breeze, or simply close your eyes and give your body a little rest.