Anxiety is a condition that causes one to feel worried, tense and stressed, emotions that are often also accompanied by physical symptoms like dizziness, shaking and difficulty breathing. It’s a state that we all experience at some point in our lives, and that some people experience with more frequency and regularity than others—which isn’t to say that anxiety is at all a shameful condition; rather, it’s a condition that can be treated and alleviated with self-compassion and care.
In Ayurvedic tradition, it is believed that anxiety results from aggravated Prana-Vata, which is a subsidiary of the Vata dosha that, when imbalanced, can lead one to become anxious or depressed. In addition to impacting our emotions, this imbalance also impacts the nervous system; Ayurvedic treatment of anxiety is informed by a holistic approach that takes into account anxiety’s impact on our minds and bodies.
There are a number of essential changes one can make to their daily habits to make a long-lasting positive impact on anxiety and overall health, including diet changes, regular exercise and meditation. Here, we go over how an Ayurveda-informed approach to anxiety can help you alleviate anxiety holistically—through diet, exercise and transformative self-care rituals.
DIET: Eat Vata-balancing Foods
To remedy the Prana-Vata imbalance that causes anxiety, you should try to eat foods that balance Vata. Since Vata is characteristically light, dry and cool, you’ll want to eat foods that are warm, moist and soft. In terms of taste, Vata can be balanced by foods that are sweet, sour and salty. Some Vata-pacifying foods include avocado, bananas, berries, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, mushrooms, coconut, cooked vegetables (over raw ones), zucchini, rice, oats and wheat. Avoid dry, astringent foods, which aggravate Vata. For more information on a vata-balancing diet, and on how to eat for your dosha more broadly, check out our blog post here.
EXERCISE: Try Out A Soothing Yoga Routine
Yoga is a practice that has immense benefits not only for our physical health, but also our mental and emotional well-being. When approached mindfully, yoga can have a powerful Vata-balancing effect and provide potent relief for anxiety. Some poses we recommend specifically for anxiety include cobra, shoulder stand, half bow and backward bends. To further learn how to tailor your yoga practice to your dosha, you can check out our blog post on the topic here.
SELF-CARE: Spend An Evening With A Self-massage
Self-massage is an extremely powerful and transformative Ayurvedic self-care practice that involves massaging essential oils into the skin. It’s an intimate practice that requires you to check in with your body and take time to unwind and care for your physical and emotional needs. You can customize your self-massage experience to your specific goals—such as pain relief, stress and anxiety relief, a boosted complexion or luscious hair—by tailoring the types of oils you use.
For those looking to use self-massage to relieve anxiety, research backs up Ayurvedic wisdom on the healing power of massages, demonstrating how they alleviate both physiological and physical signs of stress. Ayurvedic botanicals such as chamomile, lavender and jasmine are revered for their ability to relieve stress and anxiety, boost mood and promote overall tranquility. Our UMA Pure Calm Wellness Body Oil harnesses the soothing capacities of these ingredients in a formula designed to alleviate tension and produce deep feelings of calm and wellbeing. In addition, our UMA Absolute Essential Self-Massage Oil offers an all-around effective self-care remedy that not only promotes mental tranquility but also detoxifies and hydrates.
SELF-CARE: Transform Your Space With A Wellness Candle
In Ayurveda, maintaining one’s health and wellbeing requires ongoing harmony between mind, body, spirit and environment. Our external world has a significant impact on our internal states. While there are many circumstances in which it’s impossible to change our environment, we can assert control in our own private spaces, ensuring that they radiate positive and uplifting energy. Wellness candles are an excellent way to instantly boost the mood of any space. If you’re feeling anxious or exhausted at the end of a long and stressful day, try lighting a candle, putting on your favorite music and letting yourself soak in the beauty and tranquility of the environment. This simple practice can impact your internal state in profound ways. For those looking to promote calm and tranquility, we recommend our UMA Pure Calm Wellness Candle and UMA Pure Love Wellness Candle, which both harness calming and anxiety-relieving botanicals to promote instant relaxation and relief.
SELF-CARE: Center In The Mornings With A Dry Brush
Another profoundly simple, yet effective practice for relieving tension and anxiety is dry brushing. Dry brushing, or garshana, is an Ayurvedic practice that involves running a dry brush against the skin for a few minutes every day. The benefits of dry brushing not only include lymphatic drainage, boosted circulation and exfoliation—it also energizes and renews, bringing one feelings of groundedness and a connection with the self that often gets lost during bouts of anxiety or depression. Especially when practiced in the morning, dry brushing can give you the energy and motivation you need to get out of bed and start your day with an uplifted and confident spirit.