It’s another cold and dreary Texas day. Once again I find myself struggling to keep my spirits up.. A common occurrence it seems when the weather is like this. It’s no wonder they call it the “Rainy Day Blues.” Yet, there has to be something besides the lack of sunshine and warmth that’s contributing to my not-so-sunny disposition.. right?
You may already be familiar with Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, a condition in which the sufferer has moderate-severe depression throughout the winter months. Once the weather begins to heat back up the depression ceases, and the person is happy once again. The medical industry lumps this anomaly into the same category as other types of depressive illnesses, prescribing medication and talk therapy to it’s victims. However, these sudden seasonal blues are not so uncommon within our worldly realm.
Ayurveda is an ancient Indian system of natural medicine that has been practiced for well over 5,000 years. Translated, the Sanskrit word “Ayurveda” stands for, “The Science of Life.” Every person has a dosha (which is determined by physical and mental characteristics – find out yours here) that you must keep in constant balance otherwise face consequences such as physical and/or mental illnesses. One such illness is quite similar to our medically known “SAD.”
In Ayurveda, it’s normal for people to get seasonally upset if they are not careful to take the necessary precautions to prevent it. A Vata imbalance occurs during the winter months – so those who are already Vata in dosha need to be especially careful. I am Vata to a tee, and this winter I have been obsessively preoccupied with the concept of a raw vegan diet. Instead of indulging in the butter and cream-laden “heavy” meals I should have been having, I was focused on eating raw salads, snacks, and smoothies. Not to say these meals don’t have their place, because they most definitely do. (And I have no intention of cutting my smoothie and salad habit short.) You just need to alter those meals to accommodate for the changing seasons and prevent any ailments that may try to manifest.
Some common issues experienced by people with Vata imbalance include emotional depression (hello.. SAD!), extreme irritability, overwhelming anxiety, inability to relax, trouble sleeping, nail biting, lack of concentration, heart palpitations, and a spaced out feeling, just to name a few. I noticed a lot of these symptoms getting gradually worse for me as the winter progressed. And just as the diagnosis for SAD states, my symptoms get better as the climate warms. My happiness seems to increase at a steady rate to the rising temperatures.
Since Vata types have a hard time sticking to routines (sleep/wake times, eating schedules, ect.), it’s easy for them to become unbalanced. That’s why it is SO essential for them to find and establish a routine that is right for them. Typically, Vata wants to shoot for waking up around 6am-8am and going to bed between 10pm-12am. (I have been staying up later than midnight, thus I am groggy and grumpy in the morning – sometimes during the day.) You will also want to incorporate some type of exercise and yoga practice specific to your dosha.
Vata types need exercise that is grounding and nurturing. Swimming, bicycling, and walking are all great forms of exercise that can help to calm the mind. A daily Hatha yoga practice (at the same time every day, preferably) is very helpful in centering and balancing the Vata mind, as well as establishing a routine. You should also aim to meditate at least one time per day (here is a great Chakra meditation to try!). One resource even offers sex up as a “more suitable alternative” to exercise during the winter months!!! 😉
In addition to your routine, you want to choose warm, nourishing foods to help balance you. Vata people should look towards sweet, sour, and salty tastes to satiate their palates. Also, during the winter months, spicy foods can help to counteract the cold atmosphere. Foods should be warm, heavy, and oily (no low-fat diets allowed!!!). Butter, milk, and cream are your friends! (If you are vegan, substitutes such as Earth Balance butter and almond milk are acceptable. :)) Avoid caffeine and drink alcohol sparingly. Also, warm drinks of all kind are preferred.
You want to focus on cooked foods – not raw, fresh produce (that was my mistake this winter in my quest to “go raw”). Indian and Mexican cuisine are ideal due to their spice and oil content (Hell ya, those are my favorites! ;)). Soups, stews, and casseroles are great for Vata types. If you do choose to eat raw, be sure to include plenty of oil and other healthy fats to keep yourself balanced. (An example would be a salad dressed in an oily vinaigrette – with goat cheese and avocado for good measure.)
Also – when it’s cold out – it’s best for Vata types to stick indoors and stay bundled up at all times! I’ve known Vata types that layer 4 shirts at once to keep their centers warm (and undoubtedly – mind balanced)! You might also want to consider getting a grounding mat (this is on my wish list!) for the times you are cooped up inside and unable to have physical contact with the earth below you.
The sun is starting to peek through my blinds now – you have no idea how happy this makes me! 🙂 I guess it’s time to get on with my day.. I work until 7pm and then I’m going to pick up some Vata-balancing groceries to make myself some gratifying, grounding grub!
Do you ever feel unbalanced or ungrounded in the winter months?
Hope you have a Happy Hump Day! 😉