Doshic Stress Response

We are living in physically, politically, and emotionally charged times. This upheaval and inevitable social change is born from valuable self-reflection, but at the same time, especially with the multiple factors, can and will create periods of unease and natural stress. We’re all feeling it. It’s intense. It’s almost a calling — for a better world, how can we show up in the ways that we are best equipped, and in the ways that feel not only right, but good to us. At Surya, using Ayurveda, we have amplified our mission to nurture, heal, and support.

We each respond differently. According to our innate natures, some of us leap into action, but might find ourselves burnt out. Some get wrapped up in the fiery moment of anger, and that takes its toll. Some feel paralyzed, even depressed, by the enormity of collective pain or the largess of the task ahead. From an Ayurvedic perspective, these differences are explained by both the basic constitution of each individual, and by the current imbalances of our three doshas which are caused by circumstances and even short-term lifestyle choices.

Ayurveda makes it simple to see where our imbalances are, and even simpler to see what remedies we can apply to get ourselves back in balance, especially during times of stress. And especially if there’s much we want to do.

Vata Stress Response:

Vata, or the wind element, is often the first dosha to go out of balance in times of stress. The symptoms of a Vata imbalance are those we most traditionally think of as obvious signs of stress — feeling overwhelmed, anxious, depleted, sleepless and uneasy. As Vata is represented by air and is in constant motion, those with a lot of Vata in their constitution are likely to be moving naturally from one thing to the next, flowing from project to project, and quickly. When Vata becomes aggravated, though, that energetic movement from one activity to the next can lead to overload, and a feeling of depletion and exhaustion.  When Vata is out of balance, especially due to stress, we often notice a preoccupation with what went wrong in the past, or what is going to go wrong in the future. With all that motion, we are split, even split apart, and grounding, that is to say, a returning to where we are, here and now, serves as a perfect antidote. The lightness, airiness, and movement of Vata can be physically balanced by things that are calming, heavier, and soothing. The principle is common sense. In terms of tools, the soothing and heavier qualities oil work so well.  Our Liquid Gold Face Oil, our Vata Abhyanga Oil massaged on body and scalp, these simple things calm your nervous system. Nourishing your body from the inside is equally important. Warm, comforting meals help to calm excess Vata. Kitchari, one of the easiest things to cook anywhere, is a Vata-calming, nourishing, and deliciously. We’ve even put the ingredients in a kit if you want it even easier. Or, throughout the day, sip on a warm mug of Coriander Cumin Fennel Tea throughout the day.  With even these simple changes, you’ll notice a shift almost immediately.

Pitta Stress Response:

When our fire element, or our Pitta, gets aggravated under stress, we all know that pressurized buildup of anger and fiery passion. People with naturally strong Pitta are all about action and achievement, and they’re often the first to jump into action in a time of crisis. When in balance, their goal-oriented and pragmatic approach makes them great leaders. However, when that passion and fire get too hot, our imbalanced Pitta might drive us to lash out at people, and it might burn us out, as well. 

To bring Pitta back into balance, focus on cooling down physically, as well as emotionally. Aggravated Pitta creates a hyper-focus on the concerns of the present moment, so when we feel like our Pitta is out of balance, we can take a moment to step back and see the broader picture. We can take a breath, take a moment, and see if, instead of reacting, we can respond. Water cools the fire of Pitta, so a soak in the bath with sea salt, baking soda, and cooling herbs both clears our overheated mind and cools our body. In these days, we use this Pitta Cooling Bath Soak for an easy remedy that also feels like a spa treatment in your own bathroom. We also like to give ourselves a short abhyanga first with Pitta Balancing Abhyanga Oil. Most importantly, we start each day with 20 minutes of meditation (we love Transcendental Meditation), and if there’s time, we make a Cooling Aloe Cilantro Coconut Smoothie. 

Kapha Stress Response:

A person with a natural Kapha, the solid dosha of earth and water, tends to care for others. In times of excess stress, this can lead Kapha-dominant people to forget about their own needs. From there, it’s easy for these people to feel the sadness and stress of the collective, and let it weigh them down. When people with Kapha-dominant constitutions take on the burdens of others, and when it all gets to be too much, they can collapse inward under the heaviness of the collective pain.

When Kapha is out of balance, it needs to be shaken up, moved, energized. Of course, the body and mind are not separate, so if our body is too stagnant, so is our mind. Even if emotion builds up in the body without release, our body feels weighed down and sluggish. Just a simple walk around the block can help to reinvigorate kapha. Dry brushing is amazing and pleasurable technique to move lymph and get rid of stagnant kapha. Follow dry brushing with Kapha Abhyanga Oil. Another quick routine we follow is to scrape our tongue every morning to remove toxin buildup. When we feel our Kapha is sluggish, we eat light, warming, energizing foods (our Gingered Peach and Turmeric Spa Bread is delicious, or make our Zucchini Chard Soup for a light dinner, or that all-purpose Kitchari works here, too).

Regardless of what your imbalance is or how you’re experiencing the unrest of the world, the most important thing is to take the time to tune in to your own needs. Take a moment away from worrying about how everyone else is doing and see how you’re doing. And once you see, you can make the simple Ayurvedic adjustments to get back to where you should be.

And here’s an enteral and obvious truth — the better care we can all take of ourselves, the better we can work all help to heal the world. If you’d like one-on-one guidance for how to best cope with stress and nourish your body, we’re always here for you.