Creating Healthy Routines in a Crazy World
Like so many of us, my daily and weekly routines have been completely upended. I struggle to remember what day it is and have managed to bungle some scheduled activities I have to do! After just a couple weeks, the routines of my highly structured life are a dim memory – and days seem to either fly by or go so slowly that I think Father Time is playing games with me.
At first, being at home with no fixed agenda seemed like a vacation. But now, I’m mentally scattered, unorganized, and generally discombobulated. Luckily, I also have a background in Ayurveda – the traditional Indian health science – and it provides clear explanations for what I’m feeling and how to resolve it.
Air and Space Elements in Ayurveda
Ayurveda uses the concepts of elements and doshas (or energies) to explain our interactions with our external world. Air and space elements combine to form vata dosha – or the energy associated with movement, creativity, and spontaneity. Unfortunately, too much air and space create excess vata energy in our bodies and minds, which manifests as a lack of focus, being easily distracted, and heightened experiences of negative stress and anxiety.
Vata dosha is imbalanced by a lack of routine, rapid changes, electronic news and entertainment, and can also create feelings of overwhelm, anxiety, and fear. Sound familiar? Luckily, Ayurveda also gives us the tools to balance our elemental energies!
Brand new to Ayurveda? You may want to read this introduction to Ayurvedic principles.
Creating Balance with Daily Routines
While a daily routine is recommended for balancing all elemental energies, it is particularly important for vata dosha. Here are some very basic Ayurvedic suggestions for structuring your day:
Wake early, by 7 a.m.
Perform Abhyanga* in the morning before your shower.
Eat a light breakfast - or if Kapha constitution, skipping breakfast is okay!
Exercise and perform your studies in the morning.
Eat your main meal of the day at noon.
Eat a light, well-cooked dinner early, before 7 p.m.
Go to sleep early, by 10 p.m., and avoid screen time for one hour before bedtime.
*Abhyanga is a self-massage with warm oil, which is very soothing to vata dosha. Applying oil at bedtime can also help alleviate insomnia!
You can also create mini-routines in the morning and before bedtime. For example, now that my mornings have more time available, I’m working to implement the following:
Wake early, by 7 a.m.
Use the bathroom, brush my teeth, drink room-temp water.
Gentle yoga, meditation, and pranayama (breathing practice).
Starting my day this way immediately decreases vata dosha, and I can be focused and mindful in my decision-making. You can use mini-routines to create structure and stability even when (or perhaps especially when) the rest of the world seems to be out of control.
Additional Anxiety Busting Suggestions
In addition to implementing routines, here are some additional suggestions for balancing air and space energy to decrease anxiety:
· Eat warm, cooked foods with some fat content. Avoid non-fat foods.
· Drink hot water or herbal teas. Avoid anything ice cold.
· Take a warm bath with oils added.
· Spend time in nature, but be sure to stay warm.
· Take a virtual yoga class.
One benefit of this new online world is that so many amazing classes are being offered virtually. I’m working to attend classes that I can’t normally fit into my routine, which I greatly enjoy. What do you normally not have time for that you love? Has your daily routine changed in a way that you can now make it happen? Take this chance to restructure your days around the things that are truly important to you.
Setting routines and taking time to do things you love will help you stay grounded and healthy – whatever craziness is going on around you. Curious to learn more? I am offering periodic online Ayurvedic Yoga classes – see our schedule for details!
- Heather Anastos is a 400-hr Ayurvedic Practitioner, E-RYT-500, and Jyotisha Ratna.