Vata, Pitta or Kapha: how to guard your mental & emotional energy

You probably know the feeling: time seems to be slipping through your fingers, but at the same time nothing is coming out of your hands. You feel like you’re constantly busy, but you can’t quite pinpoint with what. You feel permanently rushed and restless, as if you should be doing even more. Or you feel overburdened by the demands other people make on you, and you find it difficult to set boundaries.

Sounds familiar? Such feelings indicate that you may not be entirely balanced, mentally and emotionally. We all go through these kind of periods, and for some people they are the rule rather than the exception. Sometimes the cause feels elusive and you don’t really know how to get out of that negative flow.

Yet, this could be easier than you think. Our constitution—the  unique combination of the doshas in each person—determines to a large extent how we respond to situations and how we deal with our mental and emotional energy. In this blog, I will take you on a tour of the doshas, to give you insight into where your pitfalls may lie in this field. I also give 3 comprehensive tips for each dosha on how to  better protect your own energy. You’ll probably identify with multiple doshas; most people are mixed types, with two or more  doshas  most pronounced.

Vata: restless, unfocused and overburdened

Vata equals movement. If you are a Vata, you often think, talk and move at a fast pace. You are quick-witted, creative and sociable. Your head is full of ideas and you often have grand plans. You love to try new things and have a sense of adventure. As a result of this enthusiasm, you probably have a lot of interests, many different friendships and engage in all kinds of activities.

At times, this mobile energy can also cause you to feel restless, chaotic and unfocused. You may find that you have the urge to take up many new hobbies, projects or friendships, but after a while your interest shifts and you drop out again. In the long run, this can leave you feeling unsatisfied. Your enthusiasm and willingness to say “yes” can also make you feel overburdened and all those activities can sometimes be too much. Perhaps you find it difficult to turn down an appointment because you are afraid of missing out on something.

What can you do?

1. Decide which things are really important to you

Choosing your priorities more consciously will help you avoid the feeling that time is slipping through your fingers. What project do you want to have completed in a few months from now? What activities make you feel good? What friends give you the most energy, with whom do you feel the strongest connection? Be critical; “nice” is not good enough to make something or someone a priority.

Put this list next to your agenda and let it guide your (weekly) planning. This does not involve cancelling all appointments and activities that are “nice”, but it does mean that spending time on them once every few weeks or months will probably suffice.

2. Ask yourself honestly if you might be losing yourself in all your activities

Do you run from one appointment to another and are you always surrounded by people? Then it might be a good idea to consciously allow yourself some me-time. This way, you give yourself the chance to get out of the rhythm of continuous activity and tune in to your own energy.

Not sure what to do with yourself when you’re alone for a few hours without anything to do? Does it make you feel restless? Resist the impulse run away from this feeling by distracting yourself. Just observe it. That restlessness doesn’t come out of nowhere, but it has been building up in your body all along and it’s coming to the surface now—that is a good thing. If you allow the feeling to be there, you’ll give your body the chance to relax, automatically decreasing the agitation.

3. Focus on what you’re doing right now

As a Vata, your thoughts generally run from one place to another, from the past to the future, but are rarely in the now. This increases feelings of anxiety. Remember that past and future only exist in your mind, but that only the now is tangible and real. The future comes naturally, there is no need to be constantly preoccupied with it. Try to focus all your attention on what you’re doing now, on the person you’re spending time with, and feel how this automatically calms you down.

It also helps to incorporate several moments in your day when you put everything aside and tune in to yourself. You can do so by meditation or just by sitting down and calmly observing your thoughts. You’ll notice this will make you feel a lot more refreshed.

Pitta: urge to prove yourself and difficulty relaxing

Pitta is the combination of fire and water. As a Pitta, you are usually intelligent and observant. You have a good ability to concentrate and a sharp memory. Mentally, you’re focused and ambitious: you know where you want to go and you don’t let yourself be deterred from your goal easily. You are disciplined, orderly, eager to learn and a hard worker. You probably like a lively discussion, a game or a sport match competitions give you an energy boost and you are keen to win.

However, that drive is also your pitfall. You probably have a tendency to bite off more than you can chew and to overestimate your energy—both physical and mental. Your need to prove yourself makes you want to be productive and you may find it hard to do anything that doesn’t directly serve a higher purpose, such as napping and relaxing. You may also be a perfectionist and become overly critical of yourself.

What can you do?

1. Say no or ask for help

Saying no to things is not a sign of weakness. Just as asking for help does not mean that you can’ t cope. On the contrary, it is a strength. Outsourcing allows you to focus your own energy and attention on the really important stuff, which means you can do those things a lot better. And if you are having trouble with something and call in the help of others, you’ll be able to combine your strengths and insights. That too will eventually lead to a (even more) beautiful result.

2. Ask yourself why performing is so important to you

Chances are that you (unconsciously) base a large part of your identity or self-worth on your performance. If so, it may help to shift your attention to your other qualities and attributes. Imagine that work, jobs and performance did not exist. What would remain of you as a person? What other qualities make you who you are? If you find this difficult to do, ask friends and family what they like about you, or think back to compliments you have received (not related to performance).

This will help you create some distance between your achievements and who you are as a person. Good performances are nice, but they do not change who you are at your core. You are already who you are supposed to be; you have nothing to prove.

3. Consciously make time for “useless” relaxation

If this is hard for you, remember that relaxing also serves a purpose. You can’t always be “on”; relaxing is essential in order to be productive. This applies to lazing around by yourself, but also to having fun with friends and family. It helps you to take the pressure off and recharge your battery, allowing you to get back to work energetically.

Kapha: lethargy and self-effacement

Kapha represents earth and water. As a Kapha, you have a stable personality and like to do things at a slow pace. You are gentle, loyal and tolerant. Others may say that they consider you to be calm and wise. You are caring by nature and thrive on helping others. You probably get satisfaction from hosting people at home and cooking for them, helping friends with practical or emotional problems, or doing volunteer work.

You usually find it easy to enjoy the moment and relax, but you also have a tendency to go overboard and become passive. In such cases, you find it difficult to take action, make plans and go out. You have no interest in anything and prefer to laze around in your own bubble. Your willingness to always be there for others can also lead to you structurally putting the needs of others before your own. You find it difficult to set your own boundaries, which in the long run can lead to exhaustion and feelings of emptiness.

What can you do?

1. Take care of yourself first before taking care of others

A cliché, but oh so important for Kaphas. Start your day by not immediately attending to the needs of others, but by consciously making time for yourself. Take the time to shower, do an extensive abhyanga, make yourself a nutritious breakfast or go for a walk. In this way, you prevent yourself from immediately being caught up in the needs of others.

Also, make sure to structurally take time for yourself. Do not feel guilty to guard this time strictly and to say “no” if someone else makes an appeal to you at that moment. An appointment with yourself is at least as important as an appointment with someone else. Consciously taking time for yourself helps you to recharge, allowing you to give to others even more.

2. Do something that makes you happy

As a Kapha, you’re likely to let what you do be defined by what makes others happy. Transform this by considering what makes you happy. Be critical towards yourself and make sure that your answer is not a disguised way of giving something to someone else.

Perhaps you find it difficult to think of an activity, because you are not used to doing something purely for yourself and exploring your interests. Challenge yourself to experiment with new hobbies and discover new sides of yourself. Start small, so that “no time” or “too much hassle” cannot be made an excuse for inaction.

3. Take action

Feeling lethargic, down or a bit empty inside? Get moving. As a Kapha, this probably feels very unnatural to you, but it is a good way to get stagnant energy back into motion. This way, you will naturally enter a smoother flow. For example, take up sports or exercise—probably not your favourite activity, but for that very reason good for breaking through a negative spiral. Moreover, Kaphas generally have a strong physique and excellent stamina. Endurance sports are therefore a great choice, such as running, swimming, cycling or rowing. Most likely, you’ll enjoy exercising in a group more than on your own. Above all, choose something that you like and that makes you feel good.

As well as moving literally, it also helps to take action figuratively if you feel a bit stuck. Force yourself to do something. Call that friend to go out together or leave the house on your own. Cut the knot on that difficult decision. Make a first start with that project or take the next step. You will feel more empowered and lighter by doing so

Hopefully, these insights will help you to better control your energy and find your balance more quickly when you get out of alignment. Do you encounter the same patterns over and over again and can’t seem to work it out? Feel free to contact me!

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