5 Ayurvedic Strategies for a Stress-Free Summer
After the chilly months of winter and the rainy days of spring, many of us look forward to summer—the season of sunshine, flowers, and vacation time. Yet, we may all experience summer very differently depending on our Ayurvedic constitution (mind-body type). If you’re a Vata type who often feels cold, summer’s warmth can bring welcome relief! But if you’re a bright, fiery Pitta—or you currently have excess heat in your system—all that extra sunshine might leave you craving cooler days.
Other things can also ramp up your Pitta in the summer months— think travel stress, hot weather, sunny beach days, spicy taco trucks, and BBQs, or even overworking. When your body is overheated, emotional imbalances can arise, says integrative physician and Ayurvedic expert Nancy Lonsdorf, MD.
"When we get too much of the heat element, we tend to get irritable, short-tempered, we lose our patience easily — these are all symptoms of Sadhaka Pitta, which is the aspect of Pitta that governs our emotions," says Dr. Lonsdorf. "It’s present in both our heart and our brain. And Sadhaka Pitta, just like the Pitta in our entire physiology, can be balanced through things that have opposite qualities to the heating weather."
Keep these five easy, cooling Ayurvedic strategies in mind for your most stress-free summer yet.
1. Make Time for Downtime
Do you spend your vacations tourist-stop-hopping and stressing about making travel connections on time? If so, you might be missing out on some of the joys of the destination itself! This year, try to book a little downtime into your trip, so you can relax and unwind. Slowing down is one of the best things you can do to calm an overworked Pitta. Paradoxically, the time we spend daydreaming, meditating, journaling, and simply letting go can prove productive; big ideas and exciting new directions are born out of quiet reflection and rest and rejuvenation.
Spending time in nature can help, too, says Lonsdorf. "Research shows that it lowers cortisol and improves people’s health just to take a walk in nature," she says. "Just being in cool, shady woods is really good. Also swimming—not so much in the middle of the day, but around sunrise or an hour or so after, or in the evening. It’s really cooling and takes some of the heat out of the system." Just remember to wear sunscreen!
Overworked, or juggling too many deadlines to take a proper vacation? All work and no play can leave Pitta types feeling especially irritable. Even taking just an Ayurvedic Staycation day or two can help you rediscover your bliss.
2. Follow a Pitta-Pacifying Diet
According to Ayurveda, food is medicine. To cool down an overheated system, diet is your first line of defense. "It’s the principle of opposites," says Dr. Lonsdorf. "If you apply an opposite influence, it helps to balance out another influence that may be increased so much it’s creating uncomfortable symptoms. So if you’re feeling this buildup of heat, then you need to calm your Pitta, which will also cool your emotions."
As much as possible, try to follow the Pitta-Pacifying Diet, favoring sweet, bitter, and astringent (light and dry, such as pomegranate) tastes and avoiding things that are sour, salty, and pungent (spicy). Sweet, juicy fruits are particularly helpful—and abundant—during the summer, as are foods like dairy (if you tolerate it) and coconut water. Sprinkling a bit of Organic Pitta Churna Cooling Spice Mix on meals is a tasty and easy way to help restore balance.
3. Sip Cooling Beverages
It’s important to stay hydrated during summer. Carry a bottle of fresh, purified water with you whenever possible (room temperature, no ice—as it can slow your digestion). Sip room-temperature Organic Cooling Pitta Tea between meals, and fuel your body with these Cooling Summer Smoothies before or after workouts. Coconut water is also very cooling.
Fresh zucchini juice is also very effective, according to Dr. Lonsdorf. "It’s very cooling," she says. "Plain zucchini juice can take the heat out of the skin if a person’s feeling flushed, hot, and agitated. It cools the liver-blood system down faster than anything I’ve ever found." Juicing one zucchini will yield about a cup of juice; drink it on an empty stomach and enjoy.
4. Try Emotion-Balancing Ayurvedic Formulas
"My favorite for anything Pitta, emotionally, is Stress Free Emotions," says Dr. Lonsdorf. "It really works so well for my patients. It’s something you can take one or two tablets or even on an as-needed basis, and usually, within 15-20 minutes you completely forget that you were hot and bothered, or irritable and upset about something. It works like magic, and it’s very gentle."
Organic Digest Tone (Triphala Plus), a gentle colon cleanser, can be helpful for emotional health as well. "Regular, everyday elimination through the colon is important to help keep Pitta from building up," says Dr. Lonsdorf.
5. Have a Cooling Evening Routine
Just as too much time in the sun can make you overheat, too much screen time at night can disrupt both Pitta and Vata dosha and lead to disturbed sleep. "Normally, as daylight fades, the body’s biological clock triggers the release of melatonin from the pineal gland, making us feel sleepy," says Dr. Lonsdorf. "Late nights, evening computer- and cell-phone use, and sleeping late all alter this natural pattern of melatonin secretion."
Try to wind down naturally—ideally before 10 p.m., when Pitta’s evening cycle kicks in. Take a gentle evening stroll and enjoy the cool air and colors of the sunset. Spritz your face with Organic Rose Water, or dab some sandalwood and jasmine on your wrists for a cooling effect. Better yet, keep some roses from the garden by your bedside for natural aromatherapy. Right before bed, massage the soles of your feet with Youthful Skin Massage Oils for Men and Women to promote relaxation, deeper sleep—and a great start to your next summer day!
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.