Updated: Sep 3
Around the world, people are more anxious and experiencing burn out at high rates. Let's turn to ancient Ayurveda's wisdom for tried and true tools for our modern problems.
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Ayurveda for Anxiety and Burnout – 7 Ways to Reclaim Your Calm
Feeling stressed lately? You’re not alone. Our whole society is operating from a state of agitated intensity. Work demands too much of us. Life is getting more expensive, but salaries are stagnant. We feel overworked, underpaid, and unappreciated.
Yikes. It’s no wonder 89% of people who left their jobs last year said they felt burnt out and unsupported. The Great Resignation (the extreme spike in employee turnover in 2021) has opened up an important dialogue about work/life balance, mental health, and what we deserve from our employers.
According to a recent poll, over 50% of US workers are “quiet quitting,” meaning they simply aren’t going above and beyond for their employer. And an astonishing 40% of US employees are thinking about leaving their job in the next three to six months.
It’s clear, our work culture isn’t working. We’re burnt out, tired, and ready to reclaim our calm. From an Ayurvedic standpoint, this means restoring balance in our minds, bodies, nervous systems, emotions, and our entire lives.
Here’s how Ayurveda for anxiety and burnout can help you move from a state of chronic fight-flight to one of rest and relaxation. (Sounds nice, doesn’t it?!)
Which Dosha is Prone to Anxiety?
From an Ayurvedic perspective, anxiety is considered a symptom of Vata imbalance in the mind channel (mano vaha srotas). Vata dosha embodies the qualities of air and ether and governs movement, which makes it more susceptible to environmental stressors than the other doshas.
Balanced Vata manifests as bursts of creativity, inspiration, and joy. When Vata builds up in the channels of the mind, however, we may feel anxious, fearful, overwhelmed, and locked into racing, cyclical negative thought patterns
Symptoms of Vata imbalance in the Mind
Forgetfulness and spacing out
Feeling (or getting) lost
Symptoms of Vata Imbalance in the Body
Constipation, gas, and bloat
Dry/rough skin, hair, joints, and eyes
Feeling cold (particularly hands and feet)
Pain, aches, and tightness
All beings are a unique mix of the three doshas - Vata, Pitta, and Kapha - and some of us are more prone (or sensitive) to Vata imbalances than others.
Explore Vata signs and symptoms with: Wild List of Vata Imbalances
And Pitta signs and symptoms with: Hot List of Common Pitta Imbalances
How Doshic Imbalances Lead to Burnout
When we experience chronic stress in the workplace, at home, or in life in general, it can throw Vata out of balance. When Vata becomes aggravated, we feel overwhelmed and anxious. We go into fight-flight mode, and get stuck there.
Over time, excess Vata (air) can inflame Pitta (fire), causing us to burn up and burn out. We become irritable, hot-headed, and reactive. If left unchecked, we can develop a range of stress related conditions like anxiety, gastrointestinal problems, inflammation, migraines, and even heart disease.
“We slip into flight/fight mode, often not realizing we’ve been living this way for years, even decades. We adjust too much to simply get through our lives – and end up enduring that which is damaging to endure.”
Veena | Saumya Ayurveda
It can be hard to cultivate well-being during times of intensity and uncertainty, especially when so much seems out of our control. While it’s true, some situations are unchangeable – what we can change is ourselves.
Ayurveda for anxiety and burnout helps us see where we can make adjustments and bring balance to our minds, bodies, and nervous systems. It helps us get our lives back.
Which Ayurvedic Medicine is Best for Anxiety?
Ayurvedic medicine for anxiety takes many forms – including meditation, yoga, diet plans, and lifestyle and mindset shifts. Many herbs also have properties that naturally soothe the mind. Ashwagandha, Brahmi, Bhringaraj, and Jatamasi are a few of the most common herbal remedies for anxiety.
Herbal protocols should be personalized to the individual, based on their prakruti (natural condition) and vikruti (current state). These remedies may be applied through Nasya oil, Abhyanga massage, aromatherapy, tea, or even used for cooking. A multi-fold approach weaves wellbeing into your daily life.
A note on herbal remedies: an incorrect herbal can cause doshic imbalances and even harm your health. An assessment, consultation, and monitoring with a trained Ayurvedic expert is essential to make sure you identify the best herbal formula and avoid endangering your body.
Herbal remedies aren’t the only Ayurvedic medicine for anxiety. Read on for seven ways to reclaim your calm with Ayurveda for anxiety and burnout.
1. Acknowledge What Is
Ayurveda for anxiety and burnout starts with acknowledging where we’re at right now. We spend so much of our lives trying to stay ahead of our obligations, worries, and stressors – and far too little time in the present moment.
Ayurveda is, literally, the knowledge (veda) of life (ayur). To truly know our lives and needs, we must first observe our current reality with awareness and clarity. Slow down. Acknowledge the good, bad, stressful, and joyous in your life, and the emotions and feelings you’re carrying.
Acknowledging what is doesn’t mean passive acceptance. While it’s important to find peace with what we truly cannot change, mindful awareness helps us understand where we may distance ourselves from what’s killing us – and change what is within our control.
This is the transformation. This is what Saumya Ayurveda invites you to experience.
To start, calm your mind with one of Saumya Ayurveda’s guided meditations. (In fact, we recommend practicing meditation every day – even just a few minutes!). When you reach a state of peaceful awareness, turn your mind to your daily life.
What soothes you, or fills you up? What leaves you feeling raw, anxious, and reactive? Where do you have the power to make small, meaningful changes?
2. Simplify Your Life
So many of us are busy, busy, busy. So busy, in fact, we rarely stop and ask whether our many commitments contribute to a rich and balanced life. Unfortunately, spreading ourselves too thin too often is a recipe for burnout and depletion.
Create space to heal and recharge by trimming down your to-do list. Audit your weekly schedule: which activities can you pause to focus on your own wellbeing? Anything that leaves you feeling drained or dull should be temporarily suspended.
Skipping things like volunteering, friends' night out, or going to the gym might feel crazy. But when you’re burnt out, even meaningful activities can wear you down. It’s okay to take time off from things you usually enjoy, so you can return with a better mindset.
Observe how small tweaks and adjustments affect your mental state. Does waking up 15 minutes earlier for a guided meditation feel better than sprinting out the door and rushing through the day? How does a quick abhyanga massage before bed affect your sleep patterns?
Simplifying your life doesn’t have to be forever. But it’s an essential part of reclaiming your calm and getting conscientious about where you give your energy.
3. Reduce Screen Time
The average American spends over 7 hours looking at a screen each day. Worldwide, we spend nearly 45% of our waking hours in front of our computers, televisions, and smartphones. The problem? Too much screen time can leave us feeling drained, disconnected, and unproductive.
“In reality, we’re most productive between 10 am to 2 pm, when Vata energy is at its strongest. Beyond that, we become exhausted hamsters in front of our screens – spinning our wheels.”
Veena |Saumya Ayurveda
For many folks, it’s simply not possible to eliminate screen time altogether. We work on our laptops, pay bills online, and video chat with long-distance loved ones – and that’s just fine! Even cutting back can do wonders for your mental health.
Log Off By Dinner: Wrap up screen time before dinner so you can connect with your family and sink into your evening rhythm – you’ll sleep better, feel less overwhelmed, and wake refreshed and ready to seize the day.
No Phone Zone: Blue light from our phones stimulates the brain and throws off our circadian rhythms. Get a regular alarm clock and leave your phone in another room to make your bedroom a sanctuary for sleep.
Skip Sunrise Screen Time: Reaching for our phones the moment we wake up jolts us into a state of hyper-alertness. Ease into a calm day by doing a few morning rituals before checking emails, responding to texts, or tackling Wordle.
4. Spend Time in Nature
Nature is a powerful Ayurvedic medicine for anxiety and burnout. While Americans spend around 90% of our time indoors, modern urban living is a relatively new phenomenon. As a species, we’re hardwired to crave nature.
We might think of ourselves as separate from nature, but we’re made of the same elements. Spending time around trees and flowing water balances the doshas and increases prana, our vital life force.
Research shows spending time outdoors makes us happier, less stressed, more attentive – and even nicer!
Here’s how to reap the benefits:
If you have access to a green space, treat yourself to a daily “forest walk.” Take time to observe and admire the natural life around you.
Even if you don’t live near a park or hiking area, take a daily walk around your neighborhood and soak up the fresh air and sunshine.
If you’re planning a trip, consider visiting a national park instead of jet-setting to a bustling metropolis.
Make a nature walk part of your weekend routine. Even if you’re just driving to the nearest trailhead – get out of the city!
When you’re in nature, power down your phone to immerse yourself in the experience.
5. Learn Diaphragmatic Breathing
Breathing links us to the body and mind, and it’s an essential part of Ayurveda for anxiety. Gentle awareness of the breath calms and shifts the nervous system from chronic fight-flight to a state of rest and relaxation. (Which is exactly what we need when we’re feeling burnt out.)
Pranayama is the yogic practice of focusing on the breath. Pranayama breathing helps balance prana, the vital life force. When our prana is in balance, it can truly change our lives.
There are many pranayama practices, but it’s best to start with diaphragmatic breathing. Diaphragmatic breathing helps us control our relaxation systems and stimulates the part of the brain that makes intentional choices, rather than reacting from fight-or-flight.
5 Qualities of Diaphragmatic Breathing:
Deep. Relax abdominal tension and let the breath flow deeply.
Smooth. The breath flows without jerks.
Even. About the same length of inhalation and exhalation.
Without sound. No forceful exhalations or inhalations.
Without pause. At the end of an inhalation the abdomen rises and relaxes. At the end of the exhale the abdomen falls. Begin to weave one breath into the next, flowing without pause.
How To Practice Diaphragmatic Breathing:
Lie on a firm flat surface with your head, neck and spine aligned in Shavasana (corpse pose). You may cover yourself with a thin blanket or a shawl. If you need, place a thin cushion under your head and a bolster under your knees. Be comfortable.
Place one hand on your abdomen just below the rib cage. You will see the abdomen rise and fall with each breath from the movement of the diaphragm. Contacting and relaxing, expanding. In this reclined posture, there is very little movement in the rib cage.
Allow a gentle awareness to develop about the five qualities of diaphragmatic breathing. If the qualities are not present, there is nothing you need to do. Simply observe how the breath is now and in time, with practice, these qualities will emerge naturally.
So often on the path of yoga, it is not about doing, but about letting go, not doing. Enjoy. Be. Simply be.
While other pranayama practices require expert guidance, diaphragmatic breathing is foundational and beneficial for all. There’s never a wrong time to practice; make it part of your morning or evening rhythm, or pause to breathe throughout the day.
Enjoy our free guided practices daily, 11 minutes in the morning and 11 minutes (or more) in the evening.
6. Eat to Balance the Doshas
It’s easy to reach for comfort food when we’re overwhelmed and anxious. In fact, studies suggest adrenal fatigue (the result of chronic fight-flight) makes us crave sweets and snacks even more than usual.
Unfortunately, after the initial sugar high, these foods can actually make feelings of burnout and exhaustion worse. Foods that pacify the doshas are far more nourishing – and it’s not as complicated as you think!
Calming foods like oatmeal and hearty soup help soothe excess Vata, while smoothies, salads, and fresh veggies can cool aggravated Pitta. Kapha-dominant types can zap sluggishness with bitter, warming, and invigorating foods.
Visit the Saumya blog for dozens of dosha-specific recipes.
In general, all dosha types benefit from eating three healthy meals a day and cutting back on processed foods and snacking. But the best Ayurvedic diet depends on your constitution, life situation, geographic location, and the season.
A personalized diet is a powerful way to harness Ayurveda for anxiety and burnout. Book a consultation with Saumya Ayurveda to uncover which small shifts can help you reclaim your calm.
7. Find Your Daily Rhythm
Uncertainty is a key part of anxiety and burn-out. When we’re feeling overwhelmed, even small choices or challenges can keep our bodies on high-alert – which keeps us reacting rather than recharging.
Creating an intentional daily rhythm (or dinacharya) helps us flow through the day with more certainty. We cut out all the extra work of mentally scheduling each new day, or beating ourselves up for missing something. Our bodies calm down, because they know when they’ll eat, be cared for, stretch and move, and even poo.
“When we perform simple, daily Ayurvedic rituals, we anchor ourselves into a peaceful day. This helps us reclaim and maintain our calm – even if other stressors try to steal it.”
--Veena, Saumya Ayurveda
Developing dinacharya might seem like another stressful commitment, but Ayurveda for anxiety doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are a few easy rituals:
Start your day with a healthy, dosha-balancing meal
Switch out your coffee break for gentle yoga and systemic relaxation
Nourish your mind and emotions with daily Nasya oil treatment (Saumya Ayurveda’s herbalized blends are top shelf!)
Close out your evening with a loving Abhyanga self-massage
Ayurveda for Anxiety and Burnout – 7 Ways to Reclaim Your Calm is a good foundation for your Ayurveda lifestyle.
There is a saying, "The mind is more in the body, than the body is in the mind." The Saumya 3 step meditation process shifts us from fight-flight-freeze mode, to rest-restore-relax mode. Give it a try for forty days and observe the changes. The more grounded and relaxed we are, the smoother life flows.
"The breath is the connection between the mind and body, so by training the breath, we become calm, focused, and grounded, we slow down the aging process by decreasing stress. These practices are so simple and easy to have as part of our daily life. We actually feel and look younger.
- Veena, Saumya Ayurveda
1. Learn Diaphragmatic Breathing and Change Your Life. When we re-learn to breath diaphragmatically, we move from the flight-fight-freeze mode, to rest, restore, relaxation mode from where we want and need to live.
3. Ayurveda Daily Routines: --Ayurvedic Morning Routine | 6 Rituals for a Calm and Centered Day
"Choose a couple of practices from the routines that provide you with the greatest support. Perform them while applying our two minute meditation technique and your mundane tasks, just transformed into a mellifluous meditation. This is meditation applied to daily life." - Veena, Saumya Ayurveda
"Veena was able to help me regain my energy in just a few months and I’m feeling like my “young” self again! I love the food plan she designed for me, and all the supporting practices (am/pm routines, breathing techniques, herbs, and spice mixes) are so enjoyable to incorporate into my day. I highly recommend Saumya Ayurveda if you want to feel better and have more vitality.”
-Molly Rossini, Minnesota
Explore More: Ayurveda Breathwork Pranayama
“Saumya Ayurveda has helped me beyond my expectations! Veena is a wonderfully astute and Ayurvedic practitioner. She’s exceptionally intuitive and empathic and can “see” me and accurately assess my conditions through virtual visits. Veena has been of immense value helping me to alleviate chronic health issues that my doctor could not. I highly recommend Saumya Ayurveda to everyone!” – Paul Kellett, St. Paul, Minnesota
“Veena has been great. I suffered with burning mouth syndrome for many years. Doctors and dentists had no idea what I was even talking about, much less solutions. Veena knew immediately. Within in a few weeks of using the herbs and protocols she recommended, I am not experiencing any of the symptoms I did previously. And, my thinking is clearer, I am nearly free from hot flashes, and I feel more like myself.
Everything has been easy to incorporate into my life, which is the best part. This feels sustainable. I highly recommend working with Veena.” – Liz Pfeffer, Albuquerque, New Mexico
“Veena is an ideal Ayurvedic practitioner. With just a few clues she can source a medical issue, to which she then suggests logical, natural remedies. I am enjoying working with her. She is a storehouse of information and suggestions.
What she says teaches one how to "self" heal. I am fortunate to find her at this time in my life! Thank you, Veena, for your healing ways." - Maryon Maas, California
Discover the Saumya Ayurveda Way
We all want to be heard, understood, and cared for as whole beings, not a set of isolated symptoms. True health is more than the absence of disease, which is why Western medicine so often leaves us feeling hopeless and unseen.
Deep down, you already know what you’re searching for: a new framework for living – one that brings your entire being back into balance. With Saumya Ayurveda, you’ll receive individualized guidance to create the physically, mentally, and spiritually vibrant life you crave.
Veena is a Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner and Meditation Teacher and Monk.
She is President Emeritus of the Meditation Center and former staff member of the Minnesota Institute of Ayurveda.
Veena fell in love with the traditional medicine used in her family’s home learning herbal remedies at her grandmother's knee. She remains passionate for over 30 years, helping clients feel their best physically, emotionally, and spiritually with Ayurveda.
Veena individualizes treatment plans to each person, rather than offering a one-size-fits-all approach, so it fits your life and becomes woven into your daily life, naturally.