Breaking The Loop Of Anxiety
Calming our minds with Dr Vignesh Devraj
Anxiety has suddenly become the buzzword in the health community. Why are we all so anxious suddenly, and how do we manage this situation? To answer these questions, it is important to understand our own physiologies and minds.
Survival Is Our Deepest Need
Our brain is a two hundred-thousand-year-old organ designed for survival purposes. If there is any threat, our brain will do everything and anything to make sure we survive. This survival instinct is strong in all animals created in Nature, including humans.
One aspect of this instinct is to constantly monitor for threats that may harm us or our loved ones. It is this same instinct, when left unattended, turns into anxiety.
Ancient humans lived in tribes and relied on this connection to survive. Living alone in a forest meant certain death. This is a primal intelligence that is programmed in our bodies. This same instinct is carried forward in us even to this day where rejection and disapproval from others trigger the same primal instinct of being abandoned, which then means death. At one time, we were worried about some wild animal killing us and relied on the release of cortisol and adrenaline meant to help us fight or run. Today, we release the same when stuck in a traffic block, when we run late to a meeting, or fear missing a deadline. Our external lives have evolved, but primal instincts remain the same.
This is a deeply embedded intelligence that can only be consciously changed. The first step is to recognize anxiety as a trait that is embedded in us and separate it from our everyday situations.
Learning to manage anxiety does not mean suppressing these thoughts. It means learning to notice the negative thoughts, understand that it’s a natural part of how our brain works, and consciously redirect our focus.
Addressing Our Bodies
Sadly, we often leave the bodies out of the picture when addressing the topic of anxiety. What triggers our nervous system and sends it into the anxiety spiral is most often - sugar, caffeine, stimulants, lack of sleep, lack of movement and irregular sleep patterns.
The first step is to establish a healthy routine around your eating and sleeping habits, adding gentle exercises and adopting practices like journaling, breathwork and Pranayama. These habits over time help you build resilience and calm your nervous system. The routine also plays an important role in communicating safety to our bodies.
How Ayurveda Can Help?
Ayurveda takes a holistic approach that addresses our body and mind. Treatments like Shirodhara, Nabhivasti and Abhyanga can help you relax and reset your nervous system. These treatments address our marma points and help in releasing any stored or blocked energies from our bodies.
Herbs that can help
Ashwagandha - Helps with anxiety, avoid if dry gut or constipation is present.
Kapikachhu - Powerful for dopamine deficiency
Tagara - Helps with insomnia, difficulty in falling asleep
Triphala - A powerful rejuvenator
Brahmi - Improves memory, focus, and helps to relax
Dr Vignesh Devraj is a fourth-generation Ayurvedic healer. He is the founder and chief physician of Sitaram Beach Retreat, Kerala – a space for authentic healing and transformation. Sitaram Ayurveda has a 100 year legacy in Ayurvedic practice and healing. He also has a weekly podcast on Ayurvedic wisdom and insights @ Ayurvedic Healing and Beyond.
You can connect with him at firstname.lastname@example.org