Social media is flooded with adulation for doctors, nurses and health workers at the frontline, working around the clock under extremely stressful situations to make sure patients are receiving the best treatment. Here, we share highly effective holistic inputs about what our health workers can do to move through these stressful times without compromising their mental health and wellness.
Slight adjustments in diet and lifestyle can be important reinforcements in mitigating stress among health workers who may not be able to devote enough time to look after themselves. We bring some easy to practice and quick recommendations by Dr Mitali Madhusmita, head doctor at The Art of Living’s Sri Sri Tattva Panchkarma, that can help build strength and ease mental stress for health workers.
What to eat
When it comes to winning over stress, food intake plays a key role. Consuming a healthy and nutritious diet is essential not only for a disease free body but also for a stress-free mind. Even if the time to eat is limited, it will matter what nutrition we are letting into our body at this time.
Fresh seasonal fruits
They are packed with essential micronutrients and positive life force that not only uplift your physical energy levels but also boost your mental state.
Tender coconut water
This invigorating elixir relieves mental stress and soothes the nervous system.
Cut the caffeine
Keep away from caffeinated products like alcohol, tobacco and smoking. They might charm you initially but are disastrous for your mental and physical health in the long run. Studies in humans have shown that caffeine increases cortisol and epinephrine(also known as adrenaline, hormones associated with strong emotions like fear and anger) at rest, and that levels of cortisol after caffeine consumption are similar to those experienced during an acute stress. Cortisols are hormones that hamper the functioning of neuro-transmitters that brain cells use to communicate. Cortisols also cause chemical reactions that kill brain cells. Drinking coffee, in other words, re-creates stress conditions for the body.
Flaxseeds, walnuts and avocados
They are not just friendly to your taste-buds, they come loaded with Omega 3 fatty acids; these fatty acids are instrumental in improving the blood circulation inside the brain.
They improve gut health and soothe the central nervous system and thus, are beneficial for those experiencing anxiety and stress.
Vitamins B12, D and C
Deficiency of these vitamins hampers the nervous system and brain functions and leads to added anxiety problems. Supplements can be helpful for immediate relief; however, natural ways to maintain these vitamins in the body must be preferred in the long run. Say no to refined flour and refined sugar: They hamper your immunity, physical and mental health.
Mind your breath
Breath is the link between the outer world and our inner self. For every emotion, there is a particular rhythm in the breath. Tending to our breath not only gives physical benefits but also is key to handling our own mind. Stress triggers release of cortisol. India’s National Institute of Mental Health has found that people who practiced certain breathing patterns had lower cortisol levels. Many other psychological studies have similarly confirmed the positive effects of breathing practices on the mind and emotions. Incorporating pranayama (specific breathing techniques) in your lifestyle will bring immense relief from stress and multiple health issues. Also, it is always beneficial to have a quick warm up before pranayama.
Pranayama followed by meditation gives deep and much needed rest to the mind that otherwise never stops. Spending 15-20 minutes in stillness and with oneself brings tremendous relief from stress. A study from National Institute of Health, US, has shown that meditation triggers the release of a group of feel good hormones called endorphins; once these endorphins flood the bloodstream, they leave one feeling calm, happy and content. Spiritual teacher Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is leading free online meditations every day at 12 noon to help people sail through anxiety and fear.
Music and chants
It is well-established that listening to soothing music brings immediate physical and mental relaxation. Indigenous cultures of different places have used this technique of using sounds for relaxation for a long time. A research by National Institute of Health in the US has also established that listening to vedic chants has beneficial effects on alleviating anxiety levels.
Few simple yoga stretches (poses combined with breathing patterns) can be done anywhere while standing or sitting on a chair. Stretching poses like Veerbhadrasana (warrior pose) and Tadasana (mountain pose) can be done even in the workplace and are very good stretches that bring immediate relaxation to the muscles and nerves of hands, legs and back and help increase blood circulation to the brain.