The Ayurvedic Approach to Managing Stress
Ayurveda offers deep insights into the nature of stress and how it manifests in our body. Vata, pitta and kapha are the mind-body doshas that help us to understand why our body functions in certain ways, and also how we can best help ourselves manage the effects of stress. Stress can show up very differently from person to person. Ayurveda views stress as a disturbance of the nervous system, which is mainly regulated by vata dosha. This dosha has natural qualities such as being cold, light, subtle, and erratic and is easily disturbed by too much sensory stimulation, too much food, and too much schedule overwhelm.
In a time when we have sensory and news overload, while juggling multiple tasks at work and at home, stress is a natural response. Ayurveda offers us individualized insight and recommendations to manage the effects of stress for each of us.
An understanding of your dosha mind body type can clarify what your stress triggers are, and how to bring yourself back to a more balanced state through diet and lifestyle suggestions.
Take our Dosha Quiz to determine your dominant dosha
The Vata Response to Stress
Vata types are quick thinking, scattered, enthusiastic, creative, and bursting with ideas. They are naturally more susceptible to stress due to an increase in this dosha, which will show itself through fear, anxiety, panic, insomnia, feelings of isolation and a loss of appetite. If this is your dominant dosha, it is likely you are susceptible and sensitive to changes in life which can make you feel anxious or panicked. Other vata responses to stress include being easily startled, such as by a loud noise, being unable to relax and heart palpitations.
How to Balance a Stressed Vata?
You can balance vata’s cold, light, subtle and erratic qualities by increasing the opposite qualities - more warmth, stillness and grounding. This dosha does well to keep warm, rested and feeling safe. If you are feeling insecure and fearful, try thinking of situations that make you feel safe and secure. A good daily routine is also key in balancing vata dosha and helping avoid a build-up of stress. Try to manage your schedule so you have some mindful or meditative time each day, sitting still and breathing deeply is ideal. It doesn’t need to be for half an hour - just one minute can have an effect. Eating at regular times also helps this type feel calm and grounded.
A soothing massage with warm oils is a key antidote to stress for vata types. Also, going to bed at the same time can help support your circadian rhythm, preferably around 10pm.
The Pitta Response to Stress
Pitta types are determined, sharp-witted and competitive with clear, confident speech. They often have strong opinions and are good decision makers. This dosha type is dominated by the fire element, and when put under unexpected pressure may become too ‘hot under the collar’. This can show through increased irritability, frustration and anger. This type can also relish the challenge even though it may exhaust them leading to ‘burn-out’. Physical symptoms in response to stress triggers in this type include increased sweating, heartburn, acid indigestion, diarrhea and hypertension.
How to Balance a Stressed Pitta?
You can balance pitta’s hot and intense nature by seeking out the opposite qualities of calm, coolness and moderation. If you are feeling angry, try to take moments to reassess your situation and seek a calm mind. Going for regular walks in nature will also help put perspectives on things, especially if you can look out over a horizon. In times of stress it's best to avoid reaching for spicy, salty and sour foods (such as chilies, fried foods and alcohol) which all increase pitta in the digestive system. Avoiding stimulants such as alcohol and caffeine will also help keep cool and calm. Pitta’s need intentional time to get their thoughts together. They are quick to decide, judge, anger, and often have a hot temper. When under stress, pitta’s should seek a calm atmosphere, and put intentional time aside for mental clarity.
The Kapha Response to Stress
Kapha types are your steady, strong and grounded individuals that often hold everything together. They are reliable, full of love and compassion with a calm and steady nature. This dosha is dominated by the earth element with stable and grounded qualities. They are the most resistant to getting stressed out by the many stress triggers in modern life and are seen as being laid back, even keel, and emotionally dependable.
However, in the face of stressful situations they can be very resistant to change becoming stubborn or reclusive when challenged. When faced with stress, this mind-body type may also comfort eat, especially sweet foods, which leads to a feeling of heaviness and a lack of motivation. Emotionally, this type also has the tendency to become mentally possessive, perhaps holding on to unhelpful emotions and habits.
How to Balance a Stressed Kapha?
You can balance kapha’s cold, damp, heavy nature by not reaching for cold and heavy comfort foods in times of stress such as cheese, wheat and sweet foods. Try not to hibernate in the face of a stressful situation or bury your emotions. Instead keep yourself energised and warm by getting outdoors and walking amongst nature, and enjoying warming soups and hearty vegetable stews.
Vata types need to stay grounded and take time for self-care.
Pitta types can aim for moderation and to try and be more understanding of others.
Kapha types do well to keep active and to practice the art of letting go.
Pukka Teas for Managing Stress
Our Relax Family is curated to address each dosha and support a calm mind, body and spirit. Chamomile, Vanilla & Manuka Honey is ideal for the Kapha individual who craves a sweet and calming antidote to stress. Relax is ideal for Vata and Pitta individuals who need a comprehensive approach to a calm mind & body, morning, noon and night. Love is a beautiful tea for all doshas, allowing a moment of calm, heart space centering and compassion.