When you take a moment in check in with your body, what do you notice? If you’re experiencing some form of anxiety, uncertainty, restlessness, sadness, low motivation, anger, exhaustion or overwhelm right now, you are not alone. If you’re noticing the presence of more physical health challenges (like uncomfortable digestion, skin reactions, congestion, etc.) you are also NOT alone. Did you know that from the Ayurvedic perspective, prolonged stress is the mother of all disease? That means that stress might actually be at the root of what’s coming up for you — and for so many of us. When we are overcome by stress, we feel disoriented — unable to think clearly and to act thoughtfully. Chronic, depleting stress holds us back from showing up, doing our work, and making a meaningful impact. The more deeply we care for ourselves, the better we are able to care for others. In general, stress is associated with vata dosha, because it comes on like the wind — in a way that is subtle, quick, mobile, and… a bit rough. The ungrounding nature of these qualities often leaves us feeling disembodied and disconnected. The interesting thing is, vata imbalances don’t just happen to vata people! All doshas (or mind body types) can experience the disorientation and disembodiment of stress, each just expresses it a little differently. In just a moment, you will discover key insights for returning to your center based on which dosha is most actively expressing in your stress response. Because each of the three doshas shows up a bit differently, I invite you to notice which one resonates most with your present experience of stress. (It is often the primary dosha in one’s mind body type, but not always). Then, follow the simple Ayurveda stress relieving practices recommended for your current stress-type to reset your nervous system so you can keep showing up for what matters most.

Ayurveda Stress Types

Now, let’s explore the three Ayurveda stress types that are rooted in the vata, pitta, and kapha doshas.

Vata-Type Stress

When vata-type stress arises, you suddenly realize you’ve begun more tasks and projects than you can reasonably complete and feel totally overwhelmed. You may notice the following…
  • Difficulty focusing, as well as racing thoughts
  • Bursts of inspiration, quickly overshadowed by uncertainty or indecision
  • A deep sense of depletion, making it difficult to access creativity
Here's what will help: First, notice how you are feeling right now. If you could do one thing to care for yourself in this moment, make a cup of herbal tea and sip it while looking out the window and breathing deeply. Then, notice how you feel afterward. When you're ready for more, try these!
  1. BE GENTLE WITH YOUR BODY — Explore physical movement that is grounding, gentle, methodical and breath-oriented. (Ex: gardening, dance, yoga)
  2. FIND PEACE OF MIND — Bring ease to your mind by remembering that you are separate from your thoughts. Practice witnessing your thoughts and letting them pass, rather than going along for the ride.
  3. EAT MORE COOKED FOODS — Nourish yourself by eating more cooked and spiced foods, that incorporate healthy fats and proteins for grounding.
To put it simply, vata-type stress is associated with feelings of uncertainty and overwhelm, as well as a tendency toward restlessness, anxiety, and nervousness. To counter this experience and reorient, do everything you can to maintain consistency and stay grounded.

Pitta-Type Stress

When pitta-type stress hits, you suddenly realize that your schedule is completely booked for months and you have little margin for error in your life, but have a hard time knowing when or how to pull back. You may notice the following…
  • An increase in harsh or judgmental thoughts
  • A deepening desire for perfection and control
  • Intense exhaustion, while somehow continuing to take on new responsibilities
Here's what will help: First, notice how you are feeling right now. If you could do one thing to care for yourself in this moment, plan an activity that brings you joy after work today. Then, notice how you feel afterward. When you're ready for more, try these!
  • PRIORITIZE PLAY — Move your body in a way that emphasizes play and fun, while steering away from competition. (Ex: rec sports, swimming, bouldering)
  • SOFTEN YOUR THOUGHTS — Bring ease to your mind by slowing down and simplifying your commitments. Practice saying “no” to additional responsibilities and being less hard on yourself.
  • EAT MORE FRUIT — Nourish yourself by eating fresh fruit in between meals. Incorporate more of the sweet and bitter tastes, and less spicy and sour.
To put it simply, pitta-type stress is associated with feelings of irritability and exhaustion, as well as a tendency toward control, over-competitiveness, and burnout. To counter this experience and realign, do everything you can to simplify and evoke gentleness.

Kapha-Type Stress

When a kapha-type stress emerges, suddenly you don’t want to do much of anything. You might even start to feel disconnected or apathetic. You may notice the following...
  • Increased brain fog or slow mental processing
  • Difficulty getting or staying motivated
  • A feeling that new tasks feel too daunting to begin at all
Here's what will help: First, notice how you are feeling right now. If you could do one thing to care for yourself in this moment, go for a brisk walk and allow yourself to be curious about the thoughts that arise. Then, notice how you feel afterward. When you're ready for more, try these!
  1. MOVE YOUR BODY — Explore physical activity that is challenging and helps you release emotion. (Ex: jogging, cycling, cardio dance)
  2. PRACTICE BEING OPEN TO CHANGE — Bring ease to your mind by allowing yourself to feel into the energy of change. Explore what it would be like to say “yes” more.
  3. EAT MORE VEGETABLES — Nourish yourself with meals that consist of 60% vegetables, favoring bitter and pungent (spicy) tastes.
To put it simply, kapha-type stress is associated with feelings of heaviness and sadness, as well as a tendency toward stubbornness, possessiveness and low motivation. To counter this experience and return to your center, do everything you can to stay engaged and activated. I invite you to commit to at least one of these Ayurveda stress relieving practices each day. Small, sustainable shifts are the key to making a lasting impact, both individually and collectively. As a community, we need to find ways to stay inspired, energized and connected so we can continue to contribute to the world in meaningful ways. Our individual ability to make an impact depends directly on the care we offer to ourselves, which is why these simple practices are so important! If you’re still unsure of which stress response is most relevant to you, take the Ayurvedic Stress Type Quiz to learn more. Remember, self care is a radical act. When you are vibrant and awake, you have the clarity and energy to show up for what you believe in. Think about this... The more deeply connected we are with ourselves and our tools for radical self care, the better equipped we are to stay centered amidst the chaos and make a meaningful impact — without burning out. As we align our energy through the refined routines and rituals of Ayurveda, we experience greater energy and inspiration to show up for what we believe in, which enables us to pursue our passions. We also experience more spaciousness for communication, collaboration and appreciation — all of which contribute to our ability to take thoughtful action and contribute to collective wellness. What are some ways to contribute to collective wellness?
  • Shop locally to build resilient economies
  • Buy food that is seasonal to align with the rhythms of this the Earth
  • Nourish your community by donating (time, items or money) to inspiring organizations
  • Be kind to strangers
  • Make eye contact with essential workers and thank them
  • Practice listening by creating space for others to feel heard
  • Read books and listen to podcasts to explore your own potential for learning and unlearning
  • Check in with your family members
  • Send care packages to your friends
  • Remember who you love and the world the you long for
Whatever version of stress accumulation and response you are experiencing, we are in this together. As a culture, we are in a big moment of evolution that is creating a lot of tension. Within this critical moment, we are being presented with this opportunity to choose intentionally — to be kind, patient and gentle with ourselves, others and the plant. Before you get swept into a busy day, take another moment to check in with yourself. Observe what happens to your mind when you take a few moments to breathe deeply. Continue to notice your body. If you listen closely enough, can you tune in to the steadiness of your heartbeat? Remember that finding even the smallest moments of peace will help relieve stress so that we can continue to show up for our families and communities. ARE YOU READY TO EMBODY RADICAL SELF CARE? | Join Molly for The Art of Work Life Balance, an engaging three-part online program rooted in the wisdom of Ayurveda. Learn to foster a more strategic (and Ayurvedic) approach to living a meaningful life that enables personal and collective wellness. Revitalize your work/life balance by refining your routine to enhance workflow and ease. Then, learn to optimize team dynamics for greater collaboration and appreciation, while supporting long-term wellbeing through daily rejuvenation techniques. This online program delivers an adaptable and engaging format, offering a variety of resources (downloads, guides, recipes, breathing practices, meditations…) to support your work/life balance — including 15+ hours of video content! The Art of Work Life Balance is in invitation to connect more deeply with yourself, your community, and your purpose. Molly (BA, RYT-500) is a Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner committed to living intentionally and supporting others in their process to do the same. She strives to uplift themes of collective wellness and radical self love in all that she does. After more than 2,000 hours of Ayurvedic study and clinical experience at Alandi Gurukula, Molly is humbled to continue sharing and exploring the healing wisdom of Ayurveda as it intersects with more contemporary themes feminism, equity and justice. You can connect with Molly through her Ayurvedic practice, Cultivate Balance, where she offers personal consultations, virtual workshops, and in-depth lifestyle programs.
Back to blog