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Ayurveda and Stress Relief

Stress.  We can't seem to get away from it with the busy lives we lead.  It can come from work, relationship issues, money issues, or environmental stressors such as insufficient natural light, chemicals in food, or stimulants such as caffeine, tobacco or alcohol.  Ayurveda says that stress affects us more when we are out of balance, when our mind is agitated.  When we are in balance, we can handle stressful situations more gracefully and remain generally healthier in both mind and body.  How can we put ourselves in a balanced state to better handle stress?  Ayurveda has these recommendations:
-Food: Food is like medicine for our mind and body.  Choose fresh fruits, juices, vegetables, sprouts, nuts, and honey.  Avoid frozen or canned foods.  Eliminate caffeine and cut down on fried foods and white flour and sugar products.
-Breathing: When we are stressed our breath becomes shallow.  To be relaxed, breath slowly and deeply.  
-Exercise: Daily exercise is good for both mind and body.  A morning walk is a great way to start the day.  Yoga is good exercise for all the doshas.
-Meditation: Time spent in silence is relaxing and physically beneficially.  It helps to normalize blood pressure, and relieves anxiety.
-Massage:  Abhyanga, ayurvedic self massage, soothes the nervous system.

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