Email notification dings; blue light blinking on your phone; can’t forget to get eggs on the way home; did I forget to lock the door this morning…?
We have a lot coming at us every second of the day, so it’s no wonder we often feel stressed, frustrated or just trapped in a never-ending loop of sensory information. Stress can feel like an unnecessary part of our modern life, but it’s built into our DNA. Stress was our ancestors’ way of surviving: fight the leopard or flee? Flee!
This flight or fight response has evolved into our modern day, but now instead of getting a rush of stress hormones from an approaching leopard, it’s an email from your boss asking for the latest report you have yet to finish.
What does Ayurveda Teach Us About Stress?
Ayurveda teaches us that we can’t eliminate stress from our lives, but we can take action to help manage and prevent it. Balance is the key, but Ayurveda understands that every individual is unique and will each handle stress in their own way. To learn how to bring balance into our daily lives and better understand the stress management and prevention techniques that will benefit us most, we must look to the doshas.
Vata: Don’t Put Vata in a Corner
Vata dosha is characterized by the qualities of dry, cold, mobile and erratic. When it comes to stress, Vatas will experience physical symptoms of dry skin, feeling cold, constipation, bloating or gas. Mental symptoms of stress will manifest as racing thoughts, anxiety and fear. Vatas often have a “get me out of here” panicked feeling when put under extreme stress. Fight or flight? Flight!
How Vatas Chill Out:
- Take a time out. The flight feelings are strong, so physically removing yourself, changing your environment and taking a time out will help immediately calm the mind down.
- Meditation and journaling are an effective way to get anxiety out of your head and clear some space.
- Warm, self-oil massage (abhyanga) is particularly helpful to balance the cold and dry qualities of Vata; try using warming sesame seed oil.
- Adaptogenic herbs like ashwagandha can help the body and mind better adapt to stressful situations and promote a calmer mind. Find it in My Healthy Mood.
- If you are feeling totally off-balance, consider addressing your digestive health (Vata sits in the colon) to help energize the body and clear the mind. My Healthy Digestion has all your agni needs covered.
Pitta: Putting the Fight in Fight or Flight
Pitta dosha is described by the qualities of movement, oiliness and heat. When it comes to stress, Pittas will experience physical symptoms of heartburn, diarrhea, excessive sweating, rashes and hives. Mentally, stress will manifest in feelings of frustration, irritation and anger. Pittas often have a mindset of pushing and pushing until burnout occurs. Going 90 towards a brick wall? That’s Pitta to a T.
How Pittas Chill Out:
- Chill out, literally. Cooling yourself down as soon as the episode of stress occurs can help. Cool (not icy cold) showers or baths are ideal. Can’t jump in the tub? Try a cooling facial mist straight out of the fridge.
- Be kind to your mind. Practice positive self-affirmations or keep a gratitude journal to help balance your stress-induced frustrated and angry feelings.
- Follow a Pitta pacifying sleep routine.
- Treat your excessive internal fire with a digestive enzyme that will help regulate your gastric flow. Find it in My Healthy Digestion.
Kapha: They Got Me Trapped
Kapha is defined by the characteristics of cold, heavy and dull. Stressed out Kapha may experience symptoms of weight gain and respiratory issues. They will struggle with feelings of laziness, sadness and possibly depression. Kaphas will feel trapped by extreme moments of stress, they will be paralyzed and feel unable to take any action.
How Kaphas Chill Out:
- Get those feelings out on paper. Practice stream of consciousness journaling; for at least three pages write whatever comes into your mind. This will help you work through your feelings of being stuck.
- Practice taking cleansing breaths.
- Reach out to a trusted friend. It might be hard to ask a friend to lend an ear (you are often the one listening, not talking) but it’s important to let out your feelings and connect with a friend.
- Try adaptogenic support to help you energize your mind and body; find them in My Healthy Mood.