A significant reason people are taking Ashwagandha is because of its positive affect on STRESS. You don't need to be told the havoc stress can cause your body and mind. Even if you don’t feel extremely stressed, your body may be relying on stress hormones to get you through the day. Ashwagandha is considered an ADAPTOGEN - simply put it helps your body adapt to stress.
So what is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha an evergreen shrub that naturally grows in the arid climates of Africa, India, and the Middle East. It is one of the most significant herbs in Ayurvedha, a form of Indian medicine based on natural healing. It is said to correct imbalances in the immune system while also decreasing inflammation. It has many health benefits for the body and brain. For example, it can reduce cortisol, boost brain function and balance blood sugar.
How does it help with stress relief?
Your adrenal glands produce cortisol, a stress hormone whose purpose it to help the body deal with anxiety-provoking situations. Think of it as nature's built in alarm system. It works with certain parts of your brain to control your mood, motivation and fear. If your body is on high alert, cortisol can alter or shut down functions that get in the way. These might include your digestive or reproductive systems, your immune system or even growth processes. After the pressure or danger has passed, your cortisol level should calm down and your processes go back to normal. But what if you are under constant stress and the alarm button stays on?? The adrenal glands can’t distinguish between temporary stressors or chronic stress that’s stuck without a resolution and production may be too high or unbalanced. Cortisol can then contribute to hormonal imbalances, muscle weakness, cognitive impairment and aging. Studies show Ashwagandha can reduce cortisol levels by nearly 30 percent, resulting in fewer stress symptoms like nervousness and high blood pressure.
Ashwagandha can help the body to better cope with the physical and mental symptoms of stress, helping to simultaneously calm and energize you. That same study also found that Ashwagandha led to a significantly improved self-assessed quality of life.
Animal studies show Ashwagandha to be a mood stabilizer for depression. In one study, it proved as effective as certain antidepressants for relieving social isolation behaviors and other depression symptoms.
The need for self care
This is important - The supplement can help the body cope with stress, but it doesn’t correct the actual causes of stress. So you can't just rely on an herb and simply continue living a lifestyle that is MAXING OUT your stress capacity.
Pairing Ashwagandha with stress-reducing self-care is the most effective way to find long-term relief from chronic stress. Here are some self care ideas to try:
1) Consider doing less
Sometimes you just need down time to relax and replenish your energy stores. Do you really need to say "yes" to ALL the nights out on your schedule? ALL the early morning work outs? Is it more stress than it's worth? What could a relaxing night in do for you? Or a morning of sleeping in a little bit later?
2) Spend daily time in reflection
Keep a diary or gratitude journal. Taking time to reflect on your feelings and write them down can have a calming effect and prevent future feelings of stress. Or it may be an inspirational book or reading religious scriptures that may make you feel grounded during the day.
3) Take a vacation
Yes please! Sign me up! Take time for yourself away from typical settings...disconnect and put away your phone. If money or time is tight, go to someplace new or different locally that makes you feel joy. This will restore you and get you ready for those busy moments when you get back on the grid.
4) Commit to regular exercise
Getting up and moving helps your body reduce the mental and physical impact of stress. Imagine yourself sweating out pent up emotions. You may need some kickboxing to push out all those stress feelings. On the other end of the spectrum yoga or just walking in nature is a calming way to cope with stress through physical movement.
5) Soak up the Sun
Nature has healing properties and increases pleasant feelings. Spending time in the sun can help foster a feeling of peace and completely change our mood.
6) Practice meditation
To help stimulate your relaxation response, try intentional breathing and a basic meditation practice. Calm your body and mine, helping to reduce mental stress. This is an important daily routine for both of the Bhardwaj doctors before their busy days start and/or before sleeping.
We hope that you are inspired to incorporate some of these self care practices into your daily routine. Even adding one or two will significantly change your stress level and perspective. Of course, taking Ashwagandha is also a benefit to your body and mind for its stress lowering effects and numerous other health benefits.
We wish you peace, less stress, and more Joy!