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Feel Lousy? Feed Your Dosha

Feel Lousy? Feed Your Dosha

Most of us have had symptoms of lethargy, irritability, or just feeling run down without a specific infection or disease being the issue. Why does this happen? Is it just that we don’t know what the disease is? Why do we frequently experience real illness, like the common cold, when we allow our immune systems to be affected by undiagnosed ague?

Western medicine, though extremely valuable, does not provide many answers when there is no illness. While science recognizes the value of healthy living, more emphasis is placed on treatment than prevention. Oh sure, your medical professional will mention you need to exercise or lose weight during an office visit. But they rarely offer real help in achieving those changes. I think most people find it easier to make changes when they understand why the change is helpful. That is where traditional medicine, such as Ayurveda, can assist. Practiced in India for over 4,000 years (except during the British reign when it was forbidden), this ancient body of knowledge is extremely helpful in understanding why you feel lousy.

More than likely your tiredness or sadness or whatever manifestation you experience is not a medically recognized disease, but rather the imbalance that breeds in exhausted, flabby, and malnourished bodies trying to keep pace in a frenzied lifestyle. These imbalances of both the mind and the body are recognized and explained in Ayurvedic concepts. Holistic approaches, such as Ayurveda, offer insight and answers that can restore well-being. And that keeps you not only feeling healthy, but actually being healthy and strong enough to ward off real illness.

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Ayurveda Provides Guidance for Health

A healthy, long life depends on the choices made daily. So, no real news there. The adage of small changes making a big difference is true, but many of us find the smallest changes too daunting to incorporate and sustain in daily life. But if you can visualize how the change is working and understand the specific value of the change, it is easier to muster the willpower or maintain enthusiasm for the new regimen. That is the usefulness of Ayurvedic principles. Imbalances are explained in terms of mind and body states that make sense and when we attempt a change and can actually visualize what we are adjusting, it makes it easier to follow through with the improvement.

The holistic approach of Ayurveda involves using supplements, behavioral changes, and diet to eliminate problems of mind and body. When there is an imbalance of doshas, the lifestyles and dietary managements that are based on these doshas get disturbed.

Understanding Your Dosha

Everything in nature, including us, is made from five elements: space, air, fire, water and earth. These elements combine to form three basic body-mind profiles called doshas. Understanding your most influential dosha helps you understand what lifestyle changes are right for you to feel and be healthy. You have probably noticed that what works for you does not work for others. That is because each dosha reacts and interacts differently. In Sanskrit, the ancient language of Ayurvedic texts, the doshas are called kapha, pitta, and vata.

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Use the chart below to determine your dominant dosha. You may have one dominant dosha or a combination of any or all, usually with one profile that is more dominant.

image representing a chart of how to determine and understand your ayurvedic dosha

    Feeding Your Dosha Properly

    Ayurveda practices repair imbalances using herbs and minerals, massage, yoga, and lifestyle changes—particularly diet. So, here is more about how to feed your dosha.

    The Ayurvedic classification of food identifies six tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, and astringent. Each taste has different effects on the energy of the body and mind. A food’s taste classification will either aggravate (imbalance) or pacify (balance) a particular dosha. For example, someone with pitta excess may cause imbalances by eating hot, spicy foods.

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    Balancing Vata

    Too much bitter, astringent, or spicy tastes imbalance vata. If your dominant dosha is vata, focus your diet on sweet, sour, and salty tastes in foods that are warm, moist, and easily digestible. Some examples of foods for vata are:

    • Grains such as rice and wheat
    • Starchy vegetables: boiled or steamed
    • Eat broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini and leafy vegetables in moderation
    • Ripe fruits including citrus
    • Warm milk (use dairy moderately)
    • Nuts, particularly almonds
    • White meat, chicken and fish: broiled, baked or grilled
    • Oils: ghee, sesame, olive, peanut
    • Tea: lemon, chamomile, ginger, licorice
    • Mild spices: ginger, cinnamon, cloves, fennel, cumin/coriander, mustard, salt, black pepper
    • Warm soups and casseroles balance vata, especially in the colder winter months

    Balancing Pitta

    Pitta imbalance can be caused by hot, spicy, oily, fried, salty, or fermented foods, and even alcohol. The following sweet, bitter, and astringent tastes in cool, heavy dishes balance pitta:

    • Vegetables including bitter leafy greens: boiled, steamed, or raw
    • Sweet fruits including sweet citrus
    • Fresh dairy in moderate amounts
    • Grains: basmati rice, couscous, wheat, barley, oats
    • Mild, cooling spices: cloves, turmeric, cumin, coriander, mint, dill, fresh ginger
    • Nuts: sunflower and almond in moderation, most are too oily
    • Oils: ghee, sunflower, olive, canola, small amounts of sesame
    • Mostly vegetarian diet, but baked or broiled white meat, chicken or turkey are least aggravating
    • Tea: chamomile, red clover, peppermint, spearmint, licorice

    Balancing Kapha

    Oily, heavy foods, dairy, and cold iced drinks, as well as over-eating and a sedentary lifestyle, can imbalance kapha. A lighter, warm diet of low-fat, pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes are recommended, for example:

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    • Pungent vegetables like artichokes, beets, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, horseradish, chilies, spinach, radishes, cilantro, eggplant: boiled, steamed, or raw
    • Astringent fruits like very ripe apples, cherries, cranberries, pomegranates, and dried fruit (avoid bananas)
    • Fat-free buttermilk (remember to keep dairy intake low)
    • Honey (use as a sugar substitute)
    • Grains: white basmati rice, dry crackers (no salt), couscous, oats, barley, corn, millet, rye, wheat bran
    • Strong spices: pepper, paprika, garlic, basil, allspice, fennel (most spices are good for kapha)
    • Nuts: almonds in small amounts, most are too oily for kapha
    • Oil: small amounts of corn, canola, or olive
    • Meats: freshwater fish, shrimp, rabbit, venison, white meat, chicken and turkey
    • Tea: raspberry, cinnamon, fenugreek, peppermint

    Feel Healthy by Feeding Your Dosha Right

    Overall good health is achieved when your doshas are in balance. Understanding why your dosha is out of balance and how to regain feeling healthy makes it easier to permanently adopt changes required to properly feed your dosha. Feed your dosha according to its needs and you will restore balance, feeling more energetic, focused, and healthy.

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    Last Updated on September 28, 2020

    The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

    The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

    At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.

    Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.

    One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.

    When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.

    So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.

    Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day

    This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.

    Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.

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    When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.

    Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity

    One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.

    Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.

    An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.[1]

    When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.

    Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day

    Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.

    We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.

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    By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.

    Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment

    While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.

    I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.

    You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.

    Con #1: We Move a Lot Less

    When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.

    Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.

    Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.

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    Con #2: Less Human Interaction

    One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.

    Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.

    Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.

    This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.

    While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.

    Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment

    Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.

    This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.

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    For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.

    Con #4: Unique Distractions

    Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.

    For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.

    To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.

    Final Thoughts

    Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.

    We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.

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    Featured photo credit: Standsome Worklifestyle via unsplash.com

    Reference

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