24 Stress Management Tips: Pranayama, Meditation, Lifestyle Changes

By Prof. Anil Kumar Rai
Stress is a non-specific response of the body to any demand made upon it. The demand can be a threat, a challenge or any change that requires the body to adapt. Increased stress ; instead of anabolic metabolism does the catabolic metabolism. (more destruction of body cells)

External causes for stress

Physical: Example, an injury leading to PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Social causes: Ridiculing, bullying in school, in office by colleagues, by boss etc
Major life events: Accident, death of relatives, friends etc.

Internal causes of stress

Self talk: Not believing in yourself, talking negatively about yourself
Belief systems: Not surrounding yourself in a positive environment
Stress prone personality – Some people are naturally prone to stress. Eg: Vata body type persons.

Stages of Stress

The stressful event – out of control
Your inner reaction to it – you can try to control
Your body’s reaction – out of control

Stress is good.
When it protects us.
Helps to adapt for change
It helps us to perform better, improves productivity and creativity.

Stress is Bad.
When there is too much.
When it lasts too long.
When it creates unpleasant physical and mental symptoms.

The stress response
The brain perceives the stress inducing factor.
Being the central control of the body’s function, it then alters the functioning’s of the entire body.
The sympathetic nervous system gets activated and changes all functions of body.

Brain – insomnia, headaches, anxiety, depression.
Muscles – muscle spasm, aches and pain.
Digestion – heper acidity, ibs, peptic ulcers, anorexia.
Heart – hypertension, heart disease etc

Stress management strategy

1. Learn how to say ‘NO’.
Saying yes to everything creates unrealistic expectation from you.
Saying no to things that you cannot do, spares you from the burden of expectation.
You cannot be nice to all people.
You should be nice to yourself first.
Set a limit till which you can help others. Never hurt yourself while trying to do good to others.

2. Avoid people who stress you out.
Consider finding a new job, renting a new home or just avoid receiving calls from your annoying friend.
Take control of your environment.
Do not go to those birthday parties where your friends only talk bad about others. Go to a Yoga and meditation class instead.
Read related: Meditation By Watching Mind: Stages, Method, Benefits

3. Avoid hot-button topics
In this age of connectivity, we unnecessarily stress ourselves with the debates on-
right wing – left wing politics
Federer Vs Nadal
Messi Vs Ronaldo
Apple Vs Samsung
Which religion is great, which God is great, who is the best spiritual Guru and so on.

If we can make peace with ourselves, saying,
Both right wing and left wing politics have their own advantages and disadvantages. So, both are good.
Federer and Nadal both are best tennis players
Messi, Ronaldo, Apple, Samsung, Nokia, Motorola, Nutella all are very good.
All religions are good and all finally lead to the light at the end.

More quickly you come to this conclusion, more peace and hormony will reside within you.
There will be no stress at all.

4. Alter the situation
Express your feelings instead of bottling them up.
Be willing to compromise, accommodating, when you are not sure about an idea.
Be more assertive, when you are really sure about your idea.
Take a break from your regular work. Go for a weekend cycling, trekking trip.

5. Manage your time better
When you are late to most of the works, it makes sense to wake up early. Waking up early gives you good amount of time, well ahead to plan for a better day.
Wake up early, go to bed early.
Before going to bed, plan for the next morning.
In Ayurveda, Brahmi muhurtha – approximately one hour before Sunrise is told as the best time to wake up.
Read related: How To Wake Up Early In The Morning? – 10 Ayurveda Tips

6. Adapt to the stress factor
Let’s face it. There is no person in this world without stress. If things cannot be changed, why not accept it as normal?

7. Re-frame problems – try to re-define stress factors. More you think about it, more the brain becomes familiar with the situation. More chances of solving the problem.

8. Look at the big picture:
Does this situation really matters after five years? Today I am poor. If I can put up with this situation for just a few months, better opportunities will surely be my way.
Not looking beyond the present situation is a big mistake that the teenagers do.
Students commit suicide after being bullied. If they look at the big picture, if they change the school, problem can be easily solived.
Students commit suicide for not passing an exam. They fail to look at the big picture. They think they failed in life. It was just a silly exam. Re-write the exam in six months, and that phase is passed.

9. Adjust your standards
Do not keep a very high expectation about yourselves. Do not try to mimic others. Be realistic. Keep the efforts going.

10. Focus on the positive:
All your sufferings are intended to yield a positive yield if you are on the track of honesty. If you are honest in your behavior and attempts, everything will workout well.
Lies and dishonesty increase the stress complex and takes you farther from your conscience and soul. You would lose your originality. Being more truthful brings in more courage.
Read related: Best Stress Relief Tip – Just Be Truthful And Avoid Lies

11. Don’t try to control the uncontrollable:
Especially true when we lose someone we love. The best thing what we can do is, to succeed in our career and works and make the beloved one proud.

12. Share your feeling:
In all this social media drama of snapchat, whatsapp, facebook etc, there must be a few people in whom you can find solace. Find them and respect them.
Your Yoga teacher, class teacher can also be a good person to discuss.

13. Learn to forgive: More you hold on to the grudge, more complex the issue becomes. Forgive but do not forget.
Practice healthy ways to relax and recharge.

14. Practice healthy ways to relax and recharge: Exercise, Yoga, Pranayama, reading self development books,  Listening to pleasant music.
Set aside relaxation time of at least 15 minutes per day, where you do nothing but the above things.

15-19: Exercise regularly
Eat a healthy diet
Reduce caffeine & sugar
Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, tobacco and drugs

20. Pranayam:
Prana- Vital force
Ayama- Expansion
Prana energizes & purifies ojas.
Prana enters into the Sushumna nadi & awakens Kundalini.

Kundalini is a force of withdrawal, reverse the process of creation and merge the universe into our own minds.
Mortal eat food with apana, while the gods eat food with prana.  Shatapatha Brahmana 1.4.12
Read related: How to do pranayama – A simple pranayama technique

21. Yoga techniques:
Dharana is concentration on a single point with total attention remains mind unmoved and unruffled.
It stimulates the inner awareness to integrate the ever flowing intelligence.
Only let the moving waters calm down, and the sun and moon will be reflected on the surface of your Being – Sufi poet Rumi

22. Dhyana / Meditation
Yoga and knowledge are the two methods for dissolving the disturbances of the mind. Yoga is control of the movements of the mind & knowledge is clear observation of them. Laghu yoga Vasishta 9.72

Silently observe the mind & let it empty itself out. The meditator should take the role of a witness and learn to look at the contents of the mind.

Meditation & the Brain
Right Brain- intuitive, holistic, convergent awareness.
Left Brain- logical, sequential, rational, analytical, divergent awareness
Thickening of Rt hemisphere & change in gray matter takes place during meditation. Also it reduces the sensory input.
It allows us to communicate with the intelligence, consciousness, our own being.

DHEA (dehydroepaiandrosterone)
It declines in a straight line with age.
It is a marker for the body’s exposure to stress.
It will peak around age 25
DHEA  levels increased among the meditators
Equivalent to those of people five to ten years younger   –Dr Jay Glaser

Meditation with the eye closed induces the nervous system to enter a state of ‘restful alertness’.(hypometabolic wakefulness)
Deepest relaxation which we get in 10 minutes of deep meditation can be compared to 4 to 6 hours of sleep.

23. Healthy diet for stress:
Vegetarian sattvic diet, natural from good soil, cooked in right manner and attitude
Ideal for human sensitivities, body, teeth, digestive system
Helps to increases subtle energy, higher pranas and auric field.
Diet must include all six Rasas considering the place, body type, season and digestion strength.
Read related: Foods That Increase Sattva, Rajas, Tamas: Srimad Bhagavat Geeta

The gross part of the food generate mala etc, the middle portion develops muscular and other body tissues, while the subtle parts nourishes mind – Chandogya upanisad 6/5/1

Fruits of all types, particularly of a sweet nature, taken fresh and whole.
All vegetables, except too much onions and garlic
Whole grains of all types – rice , wheat etc
Nuts, Dairy products from cows who have been treated well – milk , ghee, curds.
Spices like ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, coriander, turmeric etc
Read related: Eating Etiquette: Healthy Eating Rules

And he knew that food was Brahmam, From food all beings born, by food they live and into food  they return. Taiitiriya upanisad 3/2

24. Positive thoughts:
I am intelligent awareness
This moment is as it should be.
Uncertainty is part of the overall order of things.
Change is infused with non-change.
Entropy holds no threat because it is under the control of infinite organizing power.
Through alternating steps of loss and gain, silence and activity, birth and death, I walk the path of immortality.

This distinction between past, present and future is only an illusion. Albert Einstein.
Ultimately, all moments are really one. Therefore now is eternity. David Bohm, physicist

Dr. Anil Kumar Rai
Professor and Head of Department of
Manasa Roga (Psychiatry)
Alva’s Ayurveda Medical College, Moodbidri, Karnataka
He is available for consultation in this place.
Email: ayu.anilrai@gmail.com

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