The lull of the post-holiday celebrations tends to create an opportunity for any number of issues to arise such as depression, anxiety, fatigue, emotional drain, financial drain, colds, flu’s, and other ailments associated with this time of year. It’s already happening. I am noticing people getting sick pretty quickly, feeling tired, feeling like the holiday’s should already be over while the holiday’s were only half-way through. There is a way to manage all of this so it doesn’t develop or deepen. In fact, Ayurveda can even help turn things around pretty quickly, if the right practices are set in motion to do so. It is only in certain instances that we have to simply ride out the momentum, created by our running away with tasks, until we can finally take pause and regroup.
Ayurveda teaches us that health is primarily contingent upon a “cause and effect “relationship with ourselves and the choices we make. Ayurveda is also a system of natural medicine focused on understanding how cause and effect can help us to prevent the development of various pathologies. This path of mindfulness is profound, because we can take better control of ourselves and improve upon the quality of our health. In following some simple (for some, not so simple) practices, we can curve what’s already happening now by having amazing tools, such as Ayurveda, available to us next year so we can prevent these downward spirals. It is also important to note that this time of year tends to challenge us emotionally for many reasons some of which include the simple change in how much light we have and low Vitamin D levels, stress with work responsibilities and deadlines (which can’t be prevented but managed as best as possible), the simple effects that holidays bring which by virtue pulls on the heart strings and brings to the surface deeper emotions, and even just the natural sense that nature is hibernating this time of year and we are going against the flow by opposing the hibernation and running around/staying up late etc.
Some of my patients have asked me if I get sick. I tell them “I get sick of people but not from people” and then we laugh. There is some truth to this and Ayurveda can explain. In Ayurveda, we understand that if a persons immune system is strong, then an individual can avoid getting sick. This category of immunity is called Ojas. A strong immune system depends on healthy and balanced digestion called Agni (Jatharagni.) If Agni is balanced, then Ama wouldn’t be present. Ama involves toxins accumulated in the body. When ama is high, agni is low, and ojas is low. When agni is high(strong and balanced), ama is low, ojas is high. These three principles are what get factored into designing protocols for healthcare, prevention, and sick care. What does your agni feel like this time of year? Ama? Ojas?
I wrote an article listed below, regarding seasonal transitions from summer to fall. Many of the suggestions can apply now because, in Ayurveda, we understand that January is generally the window in which we transition from early winter to deeper winter/early spring which is considered the Kapha time of year. It is known in Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine that most people tend to become ill during the transitions of seasons. There are things we can do to prevent this as much as possible.
With specific regard to this time of year, it is important to notice how the depth of winter contains a heavier quality than that of fall. Snow will be more common (here in New England at least). Cold makes things contract and feel heavier. Holidays are over and now the recovery begins. Rest is a good way to honor and regroup. Foods should be warmer, spicier (not too spicy for the Pitta predominant types), easier to digest and moderate to lighter. Lighter for the Kapha predominant types or individuals with a Kapha imbalance. As well as hotter spices, and definitely cooked. They should also eat less because their digestive systems are slower which means food will accumulate in the body faster. For the Vata types or individuals with Vata imbalance, food should still be cooked, warm, less pungent, easier to digest, and moderately heavy since these individuals have a sensitive digestive system. Pitta individuals or individuals with Pitta imbalances can handle this time of year easier. Staying warm is key, regardless. Getting enough rest but not too much, for the Kapha individual as this will make them heavier, slow down digestion, and increase imbalances like heaviness, fatigue, depression, and even upper respiratory issues. Exercising, hot stone massage, lymphatic drainage sessions, dry steam rooms, and any stimulating activity is great for the Kapha individual in general but especially this time of year. Avoiding foods that are heavy like carbs, sweets, breads, cheeses, pastas, and yogurt. If these are to be indulged in, then proper spices should be added and the foods should be taken in smaller quantities and not after dark. Additionally, ice, cold, and frozen anything should be absolutely avoided. Colors such as red, yellow, orange, and any other uplifting and stimulating color can be great this time of year, as a general recommendation. Aromatherapy scents such as frankincense, myrrh, orange/tangerine, tulsi, sweet basil, cinnamon, and sandalwood can be beneficial for the mind.
If you’d like to learn more about this, and then some, I am re-posting links to previously written articles that can help you to help yourself by not only understanding what happens this time of year but also things you can do to make some change.
HERE ARE THE LINKS: ( I hope you enjoy them)
DISCLAIMER: This information is meant for educational purposes only. Any changes in lifestyle should be reviewed with a qualified practitioner and primary care physician if you are currently under their care for specific conditions.