Modern western lifestyle encourages us to work hard and play hard. The ends justify the means in many professional environments, and we really go for it. Dynamic, aggressive city atmosphere is merciless to our wellbeing. And that's on top of a never ending economic uncertainty. As a result, many of us end up being stressed and anxious. Some simple techniques could be the ideal way to combat this modern phenomenon.
In Ayurvedic terms, stress and anxiety are caused by the imbalance of Vata dosha. The ancient Indian holistic health system says each of us has three types of energies in our bodies: Vata (air), Pitta (fire) and Kapha (water and earth). In an ideal world, all the three energies should be in balance as per our personal unique combinations of these energies. But this doesn't happen very often due to the nature of today's busy city lifestyle.
What would really help is to learn how to stay present and alert yet relaxed and not hanging on to negative emotions. But this is a good suggestion for a life-long lesson, so here are some tips on how to reduce Vata in your daily life.
1. Keep warm. Wrap up! Try not to expose yourself too much to rain and wind.
2. Introduce warm, cooked foods into your diet. Favor oily, heavy foods with sweet, sour, and salty tastes. Rice, wheat, cooked vegetables, veggie stews are ideal. Cut on raw vegetables.
3. Certain spices can also help reduce Vata, such as cardamom, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, salt, cloves, and mustard, so add them to your meals (not necessarily all of them in one go though!)
4. Eat larger quantities, but don't overeat. All sweeteners are good but again, know your limits. Sweet and heavy fruits such as bananas, avocados, mangoes are great.
5. Do make your best to reduce the amount of the caffeine intake (and believe me, I know it's hard!). The energy boost we are getting when we drink coffee is simply a system shock as our body as it is trying to get rid of caffeine. So actually, cutting on coffee will eventually increase your energy levels. Some coffee alternatives include:
Chicory. It's not as bad as it sounds. I actually find it delicious and the taste is very similar to coffee.
Herbal teas and infusions. There are loads on the market and you can pick whichever flavor you like.
Make your own tea: add some fresh ginger, lemon and honey to hot water and sip throughout the day. Never mind the colleagues might start being suspicious if you keep some ginger to hand at your desk.
6. Soothing, calming music calms down the mind. I personally love Buddha Bar and Café del Mar, but if you want to take a step further, explore Sansrit mantras that have a deep soothing effect. And if you really want to get into this - check out Snatam Kaur, her singing is truly pacifying.
7. Warm colours in your clothing and environment will help too: pastels, browns, and warm yellows.
8. Go for sweet, heavy, and warm aromas: basil, bay, cinnamon, citrus, cloves, frankincense, lavender, pine, sage, and vanilla.
9. Meditate 10-15 min a day, e.g. before going to bed. This will calm down the mind and help you have a better sleep. So-Ham is a good meditation technique to try. If you have meditated before but are willing to give it a go, just take it as a new hobby and a "let's see how it goes" approach. That's the best way to start your meditation journey. Nothing serious.
10. After you've meditated for three hours (sorry, I mean, 15 min), take some sesame oil, ideally warm it up and do a 5-min foot self-massage. In Chinese medicine, foot reflexology helps the mind to slow down (not to mention all the other great benefits of this wonderful holistic treatment). So effectively, massaging your feet you are massaging your brain. Every time when I'm not too lazy to do it before bed, my sleep is always much better and I feel more energised next morning.
11. If you practice yoga (or would like to try), go on a slow, smooth and steady pace. In restorative yoga, you really take your time in each pose. Might not be as easy as it sounds simply because not all of us can relax and unwind very easily, but it's a good quality to cultivate.
Try to incorporate some of these tips into your daily routine, with an overall mental approach of "take it easy, slow down, unwind, reflect, take a step back and... relax". See how it goes.