Coping with social distancing, uncertainty, worry, isolation…(I’m sure you can add lots more to the list) is creating many different physical and emotional responses in all of us.
Ayurveda teaches us that we are all unique individuals based on our doshic type. You can find out more about your ayurvedic type here.
The doshas are a reflection of the 5 great elements of fire, water, earth, air and ether (space). The qualities of the elements present themselves in our physically and emotional (mind) bodies.
The balance of the doshas can be influenced by changes in our environment, the seasons, our food intake, interactions with others and lifestyle (including exercise and jobs); of which have been greatly influenced by COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown.
You may have noticed that people are reacting differently to the changes we are facing at the moment. Observing people in your household, yourself or when chatting to people on the phone or virtually, gives us a valuable insight into understanding the dance of the doshas and what we can do to maintain mind-body balance and stay healthy.
Vata types are social creatures, enjoying the company of others, movement, travel and freedom. When balanced, Vata types are fun, sociable, energetic and creative. When imbalanced or in times of stress, Vata tends towards anxiety, overthinking and erratic behaviour. The mind feels overactive, you may find it difficult to focus on individual tasks and your sleep may become disrupted.
With Vata types, imbalance can occur quickly and a cycle of sleep and digestive disruption is very common.
Staying in balance:
Establishing a regular routine is most essential for Vata types. Wake, eat and go to bed (by 10pm) at regular times. When Vata’s types are affected by stress and anxiety they tend to lose their appetite, therefore it’s important to eat small, nourishing meals, that are easy on the digestive system. Raw foods, including salads are not great for Vata when the digestion is weak and imbalanced.
To balance the mobile, erratic nature of Vata, grounding activities are important. Yin Yoga, Gentle Yoga and meditation, Pilates and connecting with friends and family is important, especially now as we are all following social distancing guidelines.
Journaling is a particularly beneficial activity for Vata as it takes the thoughts from the head onto paper. Reflecting back on what you have written enables you to see triggers which lead Vata in to imbalance. Maintaining a creative outlet is also important: drawing, painting, singing, dancing, listening to music….fun activities which make you smile.
…are organised, solution and results orientated and competitive. Imbalanced Pitta types during this time may feel frustrated as they do not have the answers to lots of questions at the moment. They may feel that they want to find strategic solutions to situations out of their control, which can further lead to imbalance.
Pitta types will have established regular routines: waking, eating, exercise as a means of maintaining control, organisation and feeling productive. To maintain balance in Pitta types, now is a great opportunity to try something new or use your skills to help others:
Staying in balance:
- Volunteer time to make deliveries of food or essential item to those self isolating.
- Try to find an online course to learn something new.
- Relax and watch that movie you’ve been meaning to watch, but haven’t had the time to. Read and quench your thirst for knowledge.
- Connect with others. Share your knowledge and skills with people who may find it difficult to use technology.
Pitta, it’s OK to slow down a little. Rest is as important to activity. Make sure you are getting enough sleep: 7-8 hours per night. Nutrition is important to Pitta types. Take time to check out new recipes and cook. Share this with others where you can.
……may feel a little more comfortable about staying at home. Kapha types tend to be ‘home birds’ and are more naturally grounded, calm, ready to offer support and put others first. For short periods this is fine, but longterm, Kapha types can become ‘stuck’ at home. Their desire and motivation to get moving and maintaining healthy habits can diminish.
When given an opportunity (or an excuse) to stay at home, they’ll take it. Following guidelines for social distancing and isolation can be just the reason Kapha types need.
Over time this can lead to imbalance in Kapha types, groundedness moves to heaviness; heaviness of body and of mind. Kapha has holding qualities and when imbalance occurs over time they will tend to retreat emotionally, experiencing low mood, depression, lethargy and weight gain.
Staying in balance:
- Use your outdoor time for a daily, brisk walk.
- If you have a garden, get outside as much as you can.
- Establish a regular routine.
- Do some online classes: Yoga, Pilates, walk, run, cycle….anything that gets you moving.
- Do not oversleep. This will have a big impact on how you feel. You will feel heavy and sluggish for the rest of the day.
- Try to establish regular eating habits and don’t snack. Don’t be tempted to have sweet treats and snacks at home, it’s just too tempting.
- Enjoy cooking and preparing food for yourself and others where possible. Kapha’s love for food, sharing and nourishing others is a beautiful quality to posses. Share this with others.
- Connect with others as much as possible. Every day, speak to someone. Social distancing doesn’t mean we cannot say hello/smile/have brief chat to people we pass when out walking. Just follow guidelines for safe distance.
- Ask for help if you need it.
Most importantly, check in with yourself regularly. Pause, ask yourself ‘how am I feeling?’ We’re all going to have up days and down days. We really are all learning so much more about ourselves.
This post is just a brief introduction to how the impact of the current situation may be affecting us. Over the next few blogs we will explore a daily self care routine for all the dosha types during this time.