The Maharishi Ayurveda Holiday Survival Guide
It can be a wonderful time of the year — a delightful time of parties, feasts and gifts. So why do so many people feel stressed when the holidays roll around?
It’s all about Vata dosha.
The mental pressure of spending money, making decisions, and having lots to do causes Prana Vata to go out of balance. Prana Vata is the subdosha of Vata that is concerned with mental functioning. A disrupted Prana Vata can cause excessive worry, stress and sleep issues — making it difficult to remain calm and make healthy decisions. It can have a snowball effect too, creating more stress and stripping the joy out of the holidays more and more.
Using the time-tested tips and wisdom of Maharishi Ayurveda can help guide you, and protect you, through this holiday season.
The Purpose of Holidays
In Sanskrit the word for holiday is "utsava," a beautiful word meaning jubilee, festival day, opening, blossoming, joy, gladness, preparing to go to a higher life, and the arising of a wish.
Every holiday has a tradition, a history that explains the reason for celebrating it. Holidays — done right — are a psychological tonic for the whole nation or region. That's because in daily life people are busy working and dealing with pressures. In most cultures, holidays provide a necessary break from routine.
The main solution to holiday stress is to pacify Prana Vata. And getting enough rest is the key to keeping your mind calm and clear. If you start losing sleep over holiday pressures, it's time to stop and reassess your priorities.
Going to bed well before 10:00 at night and rising early, by 6:00 a.m., goes a long way toward soothing Vata dosha. If you go to bed on time but can't sleep because your mind is busy making gift lists, try Blissful Sleep tablets and Slumber Time Aroma to help you fall asleep easily at night.
Don't try to do everything
If your mind is calm, you're more likely to make creative choices that favor keeping your family happy rather than exhausted. Young children, for instance, might enjoy stringing popcorn more than a long trip downtown to see The Nutcracker. Light daily exercise is important for soothing Vata, so taking the family on a hike or ice skating instead of a movie might be a better choice. The fewer late-night events you schedule, the healthier your holiday
Don't skip your daily practice of the Transcendental Meditation® technique, or your preferred stress-reduction practices—you'll feel more rested and think more clearly if you stick to your normal routine. Worry Free tablets and Worry Free Tea are targeted to calm Prana Vata and help settle your mind. Listening to the soothing rhythms and melodies of Gandharva Veda music can also help quiet and rejuvenate your mind.
Try to plan ahead. Nothing can make you more frazzled than having to buy last-minute gifts the day before guests arrive.
Support Healthy Immunity
When Prana Vata goes out of balance, it quickly affects other subdoshas supporting digestion and elimination, weakening both. This effect can be compounded by eating too many sweets, skipping meals or eating late at night during the holidays. The result can be the accumulation of ama, the toxic by-product of incomplete digestion. Ama can cause occasional constipation, weight gain, and weakened overall immunity, according to Ayurveda.
So how do you eat healthy and avoid health imbalances or gaining unwanted pounds?
First, try to eat at your normal times each day. If possible, plan your big holiday meals to start around noon and end by two. Digestion is strongest during this time of the day. If you eat a feast at night, when digestion is slower, you may not digest it properly, resulting in the creation of ama. Include Organic Digest Tone (Triphala Plus) in your daily supplements. This traditional Ayurvedic herbal digestive supplement is known for its ability to help the assimilation of all nutrients, support elimination, balance moods and reduce ama. This is why it is the one herbal to take along with all others.
Some people think if they skip lunch in order to go shopping, they'll cut down on calories and avoid gaining extra holiday pounds. In fact, the opposite is true. Skipping meals causes agni, the digestive fire, to become irregular. This can directly create ama and therefore weight gain. It's better to follow your normal eating habits to keep your digestion regular.
Eating a salad for lunch to cut calories may not be a good idea. Vata dosha is light and cold by nature, so if you eat light, cold, raw foods like salads and drink ice-cold beverages, you may only disrupt your digestion and create a cycle of more worry, indecision and stress for the holidays. It is better to stick with warm drinks and meals to balance the cool Vata. If you love raw foods, be alert to how they affect mind and emotions and, armed with this great understanding of Vata dosha, adjust your eating accordingly. Try using Organic Vata Churna Spice Mix and Organic Vata Tea to provide the Vata-balancing sweet, sour and salty tastes. Other Vata-pacifying foods for the holiday season include sweet vegetables such as squashes; organic milk products such as hot milk with cardamom, or sweet lassi (a yogurt drink); sweet grains such as pasta, couscous and rice; and healthy proteins such as panir (fresh cheese) and split-bean soups.
If you put more attention on feeding your family wholesome, organic, nourishing, cooked meals, there will be less of a tendency to load up on candy and sweets.
One easy way to support immunity is to take Bio-Immune before the holidays begin. It will help to support your digestion and resistance, even if your schedule and eating habits are less regular. Organic Premium Amla Berry and Maharishi Amrit Kalash are excellent immune-promoting elixirs to take throughout the year to support natural immunity and maintain a healthy balance.
Digestion’s Role in Preventing Family Conflict
Digestive problems and Prana Vata imbalance can also lead to emotional strain. During the holidays, many people feel stressed because ojas, which is the product of good digestion and is associated with happy emotions and health, gets diminished. The coordination of mind, body and senses is disturbed when ojas is low, and emotional stress can be the result. So eating right, going to bed early and including Organic Digest Tone (Triphala Plus) in your daily diet are important coping tools for emotional stress.
Emotional strain often affects the quality of family relationships during the holidays. Right when many extended families reunite, the stress of traveling long distances, preparing elaborate meals and lack of sleep makes us less able to handle complex family interactions.
One solution is to simplify. When it comes to the holidays, most people try to do too much. According to a report by the Harvard Medical School, 23% of people surveyed report being overly concerned with holiday details, such as food, entertaining, and gift-buying.
Try to balance your level of stress with holiday details and planning. What our families really enjoy, more than an elaborate meal, is spending a relaxing time with you. Parents should set the tone for the holidays. If you stay calm and rested, family relationships will be more joyful.
Beat the Holiday Blues
Sometimes people feel unhappy during the holidays due to an imbalance in Sadhaka Pitta, the subdosha of Pitta that governs emotions and the heart. This comes into play if you have sad memories of family problems or lost loved ones which seem to loom larger during the holidays.
In an attempt to deal with sadness, you may find yourself heading for the dessert table, or engaging in behaviors or internal dialogue that is not life-supporting. While the lift from sweet foods may be real, the effect is brief. Eating heavy sweets, chocolate and junk food will only increase digestive impurities and intensify feelings of sadness in the long term. In this type of emotion-driven eating, the more reactive, Pitta-based toxin called amavisha can be formed. In this case the heart and mind stop communicating and we may feel even sadder.
Be around those you love, those that bring you happiness, and discuss your sadness with loved ones should it arise. The holidays are all about connection. Connection warms our heart and increases ojas.
To break this unhappy cycle, Ayurvedic experts recommend a Pitta-pacifying diet, with more vegetables; healthy sweet foods like rice, wheat and milk; and proteins like split-bean soups. Avoid spicy foods, chocolate, caffeine, and alcohol, as these are all Pitta-aggravating. Organic Rose Petal Preserve, Organic Stress Free Emotions, Blissful Joy tablets, Blissful Heart Aroma and Organic Pitta Tea are extremely effective in restoring balance to Sadhaka Pitta and helping to relieve emotional turmoil and feelings of sadness.
Look Your Holiday Best
Bliss is best for making your skin glow. And bliss results from a balanced Ayurvedic diet and routine. Bliss brings out prabha, which is Sanskrit for inner beauty.
For an extra holiday boost, treat yourself to a relaxing skin-care regimen. Use Youthful Skin Herbal Soap, Youthful Skin Oil and Youthful Skin Cream to cleanse and nourish your skin. For deeper impurities, use bentonite clay once or twice a week.
The Youthful Skin Cream is especially helpful during the holidays, because it contains Gotu Kola and Sensitive Plant to relax Prana Vata. This adds psychological support through bridging the largest organ in your body. Support healthy skin from within using our Radiant Skin Tablets.
One of the most effective ways to relieve holiday stress and rejuvenate your skin is a daily oil massage (abhyanga) followed by a warm bath. Because the skin is the seat of Vata, Ayurvedic massage is especially helpful for balancing Prana Vata, calming your mind and removing fatigue. Rejuvenation Massage Oils for Men and Women are ideal for relieving stress because they contain Sensitive Plant and Shankapushpi. Sensitive Plant provides support to the tactile nerves to help cope with stress, and Shankapushpi creates joyful relaxation.
Doing abhyanga with an Herbal Massage Oil balances the mind and emotions and helps enhance your ability to withstand stress. It strengthens the physiology overall, lubricates the joints and helps the process of elimination of toxins. It's wonderful for dry winter skin, too. You can enhance the benefits of an Ayurvedic daily massage with specially-blended Rejuvenation Massage Oils. They are more easily absorbed by the skin than most regular massage oils, and because they are precise blends of Ayurvedic herbs and aromas, they rejuvenate the body quickly. The herbs in these oils support circulation and healthy nerves; help balance mind and emotions; support natural resistance to stress; support greater stamina through the day; and promote deeper sleep.
Avoiding Post-Holiday Fatigue
Keeping your doshas in balance during the holidays is important for your long-term health as well. If mental pressures and emotional distress continue throughout the holiday season without being addressed, then the original imbalance can become more difficult to remove. The result might be some form of post-holiday fatigue or emotional issues. If you have a history of emotional stress during the holidays, you should be especially careful to follow these recommendations, and consider seeing an expert in Maharishi Ayurveda. With Kapha season coming soon after the holidays, it's the ideal time to detoxify and bring your body back into balance after the winter holidays.
According to one survey, 36% cited shopping for gifts as their biggest holiday stress. Not knowing what to buy or where to buy was the major source of shopping worries, while others said fighting the crowds in malls or not having enough time to shop created the most pressure.
So this holiday season, why not give yourself a break and shop from Maharishi Ayurveda, either online or by calling one of our health representatives — and give the gift of health. Your friends and family will appreciate healthful gifts they can enjoy (and you'll feel good giving the gift of health). There's something in the catalog for everyone. Choose from a wide variety of traditional Ayurvedic herbal formulations, teas, aromas and skin-care products.
Enjoy the holidays!
Photo credit: blmiers2 / photo on flickr
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.