Maintaining optimal health is essential for a balanced and fulfilling life, and Ayurveda, the ancient holistic science of well-being, offers profound insights to guide us on this journey. By identifying common mistakes that might be hindering your well-being, we can harness the wisdom of Ayurveda to find effective solutions that promote harmony and vitality. Let's explore eight common pitfalls despite our best efforts to maintain a healthy lifestyle that may be holding us back, and the Ayurvedic alternatives to live a more balanced and healthful life.
- Eating fruit and vegetables with pesticides
We may think we're eating healthy by shopping fruit and vegetables, however conventional farming methods mean that our fruit and veg are likely laced with pesticides. Consuming food tainted with pesticides disrupts the body's delicate balance and can lead to imbalances in the doshas, causing health issues. The chemicals in pesticides are foreign to our bodies and can lead to toxicity, inflammation, and digestive problems.
Regular exposure to pesticides can weaken the immune system, impair digestion, and contribute to chronic health conditions, including hormonal imbalances and even certain cancers.
Solution: Switch to Organic Food
Practical Steps: Opt for organic produce whenever possible, as it is free from harmful chemicals and nurtures your body with the inherent goodness of nature. You can start by prioritizing the "Dirty Dozen" (most pesticide-laden produce) as organic choices and gradually transition to a more organic-centric diet.
- Your Body is still in Fight or Flight
We can be doing all the right things for our health, but if we're leaving our stress unchecked, all that effort will get us nowhere. Chronic stress triggers the fight-or-flight response, elevating cortisol levels and weakening the immune system. Prolonged stress can lead to anxiety, sleep disturbances, and an increased risk of various diseases. Sometimes, coupling an already stressed state with high intensity exercise can actually exacerbate the problem.
The ongoing activation of the stress response disrupts hormonal balance, suppresses immunity, and depletes vital energy, leaving you vulnerable to physical and mental health issues.
Solution: Focus on Lowering Cortisol and Taking Care of Your Immune System
Practical Steps: Practice stress-reducing techniques such as yoga, meditation, and mindfulness to calm the nervous system. Switch to low impact exercise and walking for a period of time if your body is under chronic stress, to keep cortisol at bay. Incorporate effective adaptogenic herbal blends like Bliss into your daily routine to support your body's ability to adapt to stress. Cultivate habits that promote relaxation and engage in activities that bring joy and peace to your mind.
- Eating Too Many Cold Foods: Weakening Your Digestive Fire
In the West we have been conditioned to believe that light salads, cold smoothies and raw foods are always better for our health, however Eastern cultures and traditional medicine shows us that this isn't necessarily the case. Consuming an excess of cold and raw foods weakens the digestive fire (agni), leading to incomplete digestion and the formation of toxins (ama) in the body. Think, throwing cold water onto a fire - it puts out that burning digestive fire and slows metabolism.
Poor digestion can result in gas, bloating, and a compromised ability to absorb nutrients, negatively impacting overall health and vitality.
Solution: Switch to warm, cooked foods as much as possible
Practical Steps: Prioritise warm cooked meals that are easier to digest and help maintain the balance of your doshas. Lightly steam or sauté vegetables, enjoy warming soups, dahl or kitchari, and incorporate spices like ginger, cumin, and black pepper to aid digestion.
- Not Getting Enough Sleep, OR Not Sleeping At The Right Times
Sleep is one of the three main pillars of health according to Ayurveda. Inadequate or irregular sleep disrupts the body's natural circadian rhythm, impacting hormone regulation, cognitive function, and immune response. Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to fatigue, impaired memory, weakened immunity, weight gain and an increased risk of chronic diseases. Furthermore, according to Ayurveda, our body's vital processes are taking care of between the hours of 10pm and 2am, so it's just as important WHEN we sleep than how long we sleep. The quality of our sleep also dramatically improves how we function the next day.
Solution: Go to Bed Before 10 pm and Wake Up at Sunrise
Practical Steps: Establish a consistent sleep schedule by going to bed before 10 pm and waking up with the sun. Create a calming bedtime routine, minimize screen time before sleep, and optimize your sleep environment to promote restful sleep. Calm the mind and body and prepare for a deep, restorative sleep by sipping on Bliss 30 minutes before bed.
- Not Looking at Health Holistically
You can chug all the vitamins and go to all the fitness classes if you want, but if you're ignoring your mental, spiritual, emotional, social and occupational wellbeing your health isn't going to improve. Neglecting emotional and mental health while focusing solely on physical well-being can lead to imbalances and discontent. It's evident, particuarly when examining ancient philosiphies that the mind, body and spirit cannot be separated when it comes to health.
Ignoring emotional and mental health can result in stress, anxiety, and a lack of purpose and fulfillment in life. Trapped and unprocessed emotions can get stuck in the body and impact our health, and chronic stress or unhappiness leads to ageing, entropy and decay.
Solution: Prioritize Emotional and Mental Health
Practical Steps: Engage in activities that bring you joy and align with your purpose. Practice emotional processing and mindfulness to nurture your mental health. Cultivate positive relationships and distance yourself from toxic influences. Engage in spiritual practices that connect you more deeply to yourself.
- Not Being Consistent
We truly are what we repeatedly do, and our wellbeing is a printout of our daily habits. There's no use going to one-off retreats or doing detoxes every few months if we don't have daily healthy habits in place. Inconsistent routines disrupt the body's natural rhythms and hinder the establishment of healthy habits.
Lack of consistency can lead to feelings of instability and difficulty in sustaining positive changes, hindering progress towards better health.
Solution: Establish a Daily Routine
Practical Steps: Create a daily routine that aligns with your dosha type and the changing seasons, rising with the sun and committing to daily rituals for the mind, body and spirit. Incorporate practices like tongue scraping, meditation, movement and self-massage (Abhyanga) to support your well-being. Stick to your routine with dedication and patience to experience the full benefits.
- Not Paying Attention to What's in Your Personal Care Products
We can be ticking all the boxes with our diet being clean and organic, but what about our personal care products? The prevalence of toxic chemicals in our personal care products such as toothpaste, deodorant, body wash, skincare, haircare, fragrances and makeup is all too common and can have a significant impact on our health without us realising it. Our skin is our largest organ, so it makes sense to pay attention to what we put on it. Using personal care products with harmful chemicals can disrupt hormones and be absorbed into the body, negatively impacting overall health. Toxic ingredients in personal care products can lead to skin irritations, hormonal imbalances, and contribute to long-term health issues.
Solution: Choose Natural Personal Products
Practical Steps: Opt for natural alternatives for personal care products when shopping. Read labels carefully and avoid products containing harmful chemicals, parabens, and synthetic fragrances.
- Being Rigid and Excessive With our Routines.
It's corny but it's true - everything in moderation! Our health routine is meant to serve, heal and empower us, and it's our servant. That's why if we start to feel like a slave to our routine, some refinement is needed, towards simplicity. We want to enjoy our routine and not make it feel like a burden. Health is a long-term lifestyle, so it's important we set up sustainable habits. Getting carried away with excessive diets, workouts, or self-care routines can lead to stress, burnout, and imbalance. Rigidity and excessiveness can deplete your energy, strain your body, and leave you feeling overwhelmed.
Solution: Embrace the Concept of "Less is More"
Practical Steps: Practice moderation and simplicity in your choices. Focus on a few essential practices that align with your needs and lifestyle that you truly enjoy, avoiding the pressure to do it all. Find joy in the simplicity of life and allow yourself the space to rest and rejuvenate.
By integrating Ayurvedic principles into your daily life and correcting these common mistakes, you can unleash the full potential of your well-being and experience a harmonious and fulfilling life. Remember, Ayurveda empowers us to live in alignment with our unique constitution and the rhythms of nature, allowing us to thrive in mind, body, and spirit.