Have you ever had a time in your life when you just felt off? Maybe you're feeling edgy, or sluggish, or skattered? Those are symptoms of being out of balance, and it can happen to the best of us. The good news is that once we identify the places that we're out of whack, we can take some pretty easy steps to get back into a more harmonious state.
So what causes us to to get out of balance in the first place?
There are many factors that can influence the body's state of harmony. For example, have you ever noticed that your mood changes when the weather changes? I'm a fiery person by nature (being a Pitta/Vata dosha constitution), so whenever the temperatures gets above 80 degreess, I notice how prickly I become. I get cranky, irritable, and overall frustrated – just by the rising of the thermometer.
Where we live impacts us as well. In addition to how the micro climate changes depending on our geographical location, our internal balance has a direct corrolation to where we live in relation to others. Do you feel one way when you're living super close to other people and another way when you're either living solo or in a more rural environment? Situations like living closer to the beach vs. amongst the trees vs. in a city can dramatically influence our personal wellbeing.
Other more obvious influential factors that impact our internal harmony are things such as sleep patterns and the stage of our lives (meaning being a teenager, menopausal, and an elder).
Now that we know some of the things that can cause us to go out of balance, how can we tell that we are, in fact, out of whack? Because, if you think about it, it's not just as simple as saying when it's hot, you'll be more feisty, since we know that some people totally thrive in the heat when others (<-- me) have meltdowns.
Our imbalanced state shows up in various ways.
Pulling in some Ayurvedic terms, when your Vata is too high, you're more likely to have a difficult time focusing, you're easily distracted, overwhelmed, feeling dry (in your skin, nails, hair, and poop), and you likely don't sleep well. When your Pitta is elevated, you're quicker to get frustrated, your competitive side is heightened, and you might even be just plain ol' angry more often. An increase in Kapha shows up as lack of motivation, depression, feeling sluggish, and weight gain. If you're unfamiliar with the concept of doshas in Ayurveda, don't worry if you don't understand the Vata, Pitta, Kapha part of the descriptions. Just connect to the feelings within your body and their outward expressions.
Once you've done an internal check-in, and you've identified the parts of you that are different than your usual you-ness, it's time to make some lifestyle tweaks to help you get back on track. Returning to a more balanced state is simple, but it may not be easy because some imbalances can be more challenging to address.
For a Vata imbalance (that spacey, distracted, dry, overwhelmed state) make sure you're drinking enough water. Hydration is key for you, as is adding more oil to your diet and skin (organic sesame oil is perfect). Go to sleep earlier (by 10p), meditate daily, and do some slow stretches while laying down. Also, slow, deep belly breathing will work wonders (for everyone, always, actually).
If your internal fire is raging, gravitate towards cooler things (Think: swimming, adding cucumber and/or cilantro or mint to your water, and avoiding alcohol and spicy and salty foods). Also, keep your activities on the calmer side -- meaning avoiding competitive sports and intense workouts. Instead opt for things like slow yoga and walking in nature (under trees is great).
When your inner sloth has taken control, movement is main the solution for you. Start with getting out of bed early (by 6a if possible, or as close to it as you can). For exercise, activities that make you sweat and your heart pound are perfect. This doesn't mean you need to turn into a marathon runner. If you have any physical challenges, be sure to honor those. If physically able, even fast-paced movements while sitting in a chair can produce the same benefits. When cooking, add in more spicy things (like cayenne, garlic, pepper, etc.) to help get the internal heat and movement happening.
These general principles can make a huge difference in your quality of life, so don't discount how uncomplicated they are. It is worth noting, though, that some imbalances might need a little extra help to get them to disappear. If you find that after some time you're still not feeling quite right, then it's time to bring in a professional Ayurvedic Coach to help restore you to your optimal state.