How Ayurveda Can Support Your Work from Home Routine
It’s safe to say, our workdays look a little different than they did during the advent of Ayurveda over 5,000 years ago. And for many of us, we can make the valid claim that our work routine and environment vary quite greatly from the past one or two years.
Developments in technology and changes in industry are at the heart of this shift and what makes it possible to work from anywhere at any time, including from any room in our house.
This presents as a blessing in times when getting to the office is difficult or impossible, like in the case of a sick child staying home from school, a snowstorm, or a pandemic, but it can also feel like a curse when you can’t focus, find your groove, or get settled in your space.
Though the landscape of our lives has changed tremendously since the foundations of Ayurveda were constructed, its concepts remain timeless.
No matter if you’re a WFH (work from home) newbie who hasn’t yet hit their stride or a WFH veteran who’s been blurring the line between home and office, Ayurveda may be just what you’re seeking to support you in your current work from home scene.
Optimize Your Routine to Meet Your Needs
There are general guidelines that most of us will find supportive no matter our dosha or the type of work we do, but we’ll benefit most by incorporating components into our WFH routine that match our individual needs.
And while you can guess what some of your needs are based on previous habits, behavior, and imbalances, tuning into how you currently feel throughout your day will equip you with the best intel. Sometimes the practices we used to rely on are no longer working, and sometimes it’s us that’s changed.
Either way, creating a supportive WFH routine means first understanding your needs and priorities, and then adjusting your routines accordingly.
Witness Yourself in Action
With regards to your work, observe your schedule, behavior, and the way you carry out your day. Then answer the following questions:
- Are your days consistent? Are your start and finish times and the breaks you take throughout your workdays (such as lunch or an afternoon break) predictable?
- Do your days follow a regular workflow? Does this workflow feel natural to you or is it working against your natural tendencies?
- Are your tasks planned and compartmentalized, or are they more spontaneous and sporadic? For example, do you have specific blocks of time where you conduct client calls? Meetings? Emails? Or are you typically playing it by ear, managing tasks as they come up or as you feel like it?
- Does your work offer flexibility? If you wanted to make changes in your day, would it be cohesive with your work and your employer?
Now, consider how you feel over the course of your workday and any themes you’ve noticed in your thoughts or behavior since you’ve started working from home. With this in mind, answer these additional questions:
- Is your energy sustained or variable? Is it as high as you feel it should be? Do you notice a specific time that your energy dips?
- Does your mood feel stable, or do you experience times of anxiousness, frustration, or disinterest?
- Are you able to maintain focus, or do you notice yourself getting distracted repeatedly? If you had to timestamp when you are most or least focused, what time would this be?
- Are your creative juices flowing or does it feel like your muse has taken a permanent leave of absence? When do you feel most and least creative?
Prioritize the Areas You Need Support
Review your answers from above. Based on what you discovered while assessing your schedule, tasks, and the way you feel throughout the day, evaluate the areas that are working for you and those that are not.
With compassion towards yourself, notice the areas that could use a refresher or extra boost of support.
List the three most pressing things, and in doing so, note how changing one might help feed into the improvement of the others. With this in mind, choose the single aspect you feel is the highest priority. Make it your primary focus and use the next steps for devising a simplistic and workable plan.
Make Simple Adjustments
Changes can be difficult, even when they are welcomed. Thus, it’s essential for you to make the modifications that support your needs in a way that feels manageable, natural, and realistic for you.
In doing so, it will be easier and less stressful to implement changes, ultimately setting you up for a better chance at success. When you aren’t feeling aligned with your action, chances are it isn’t the best plan for you.
Take extra care to make sure any changes, additions, or modifications aren’t adding stress—sometimes what we think will help only causes us to fret if we feel like we don’t have the proper time or resources to make it work.
And above all, always start small.
Utilize the Ayurvedic Clock for Enhanced Focus and Creativity
Much like our circadian clock, the Ayurvedic clock links our physiology to nature and dictates when different functions of the body and mind are at their most optimal performance.
It tells us why the “when” of our actions can be important, such as why we feel our best when sleeping or eating within certain time frames, or why our physical endurance or reaction times can vary throughout the day.
This idea also extends beyond our physiological function. We can use the Ayurvedic clock to leverage our ability to focus and to tap into our creativity when these energies are at their peak.
The Ayurvedic clock is divided into six different four-hour timeframes, which take on attributes of the five elements and three doshas:
- 2–6 a.m. and 2–6 p.m. is vata or the ether and air elements.
- 6–10 a.m. and 6–10 p.m. is kapha or the water and earth elements.
- 10 a.m.–2 p.m. and 10 p.m.–2 a.m. is pitta or the fire and water elements.
The doshas and elements influence time frames similarly to the way they influence us. When expressed, they highlight different aspects of our personality, physiology, and psyche. (Learn more about Ayurveda and the elements in Banyan's Introduction to Ayurveda guide.)
To put this to task in your workday, use the following guidelines as a reference and consider aligning your agenda with what your body is naturally equipped to do throughout the day:
6–10 a.m. (Kapha Time of Day)
The stability of kapha makes this a good time for tasks that require mental endurance and a steady mind, such as reading the long report you were asked to look over, preparing a presentation, or responding to emails that you’ve left sitting in your inbox for a time when you’d be able to craft a thoughtful reply.
10 a.m.–2 p.m. (Pitta Time of Day)
The sharpness of pitta allows for this time of day to favor tasks that require mental acuity. It’s great for hard-to-solve problems, issues that require logic and don’t leave room for gray areas, and things like organizing, planning, and strategizing.
2–6 p.m. (Vata Time of Day)
The light and mobile qualities of vata make this our most creative time of day. It’s also a great time for connecting with others, meetings, brainstorming, or team building.
Incorporate Dosha-Balancing Work Routines
Knowing your dosha can be beneficial for understanding and even predicting some of the struggles you might have when working from home. If you’re keen to your constitution and current state of balance, you might as well try to get ahead of some of the obstacles you’re likely to encounter.
If you’re not certain of your dosha, take the free dosha quiz. Then, use the following dosha-specific tips to help you stay healthy in your work life.
Work in 50-minute time blocks, assigning yourself only one task at a time. Overwhelm and overstimulation can easily get in the way of vata’s ability to concentrate and stay on task. Your strength is in short bursts of energy rather than endurance, so plan for shorter increments of work with a specific area of focus.
This will help prevent your mind from wandering and ward off the anxious feeling of having too many things on your plate. Take 10-minute breaks every hour to refresh before you dive back into your work.
Use a floor desk when possible. Comprised of the light ether and air elements, vata-types can easily feel unsettled or disconnected from their foundation. Reconnect and stay grounded by sitting on the floor while you work. Staying closer to the earth will help you keep your roots.
- Break in the afternoon for some breathwork. It’s most common for your energy slump and inability to focus to arrive in the afternoon or during the vata time of day. Pause for some grounding breathwork such as Nadi Shodhana (Alternate Nostril Breathing) instead of reaching for a sugary snack or caffeinated drink.
Delegate, trust, and ask for help. It can be tricky for pittas to reach out for help when they become overloaded, oftentimes because they feel they can do the task better and more efficiently than others. However, this need for control likely contributed to your overload in the first place. Trusting in others and handing off tasks may give you more time, energy, and relief than you ever imagined.
Pause for a real lunch break. Productivity-driven, you see your lunch as an opportunity to get things done. But just because you’re working from your kitchen doesn’t mean you should work and eat at the same time.
Taking a real lunch break will give you pause from your work and a chance to fully nourish yourself. Voted most likely to get hangry, you need to make sure you’re feeding your agni so your inner fire doesn’t turn into irritability or anger.
Be sure your expectations are realistic. You dream big, whether it’s a major project or just the dream of getting through a lengthy to-do list. But when you’re working from home, there may be some circumstances you can’t control.
Given this, be realistic about what you expect from working from home. Some days you’ll be surprised at what you’ve accomplished, and other days you’ll simply be satisfied. But with this approach, you’ll never be disappointed.
Connect with your coworkers. Solitude is in your nature, and while you appreciate the company of others, it’s easy to slide into a pattern of being alone. Because working from home isolates you from your peers, there’s an absence of conversation, engagement, and interaction that makes this even easier and puts you at risk of getting stuck. Scheduling regular virtual meetings or phone calls will keep your mind circulating and in motion.
Take a movement break. Be stable, not stale. Keep your earthy side from becoming too abundant by taking short breaks for movement. This could be a stretch break, a walk around the block, or even a mini dance party. Whatever you choose, it will keep your mind feeling fresh.
- Listen to music while you work. Keep things light and lively during your day by listening to music. It helps generate an energy or buzz that will keep you alert and motivated. Of course, be sure not to choose anything too distracting.
Create a Supportive Environment with Vastu
There’s a branch of Ayurveda called Vastu that is used to bring harmony into our work and living spaces. Similar in its goals to Feng Shui, Vastu uses different design components, such as materials, colors, and layout of a room, to help bring balance to the doshas and elements.
This results in an environment that enhances and supports the allocated use of a room or structure. You don’t have to do a complete renovation for this to take effect, but understanding some basic principles of Vastu may make it easier for you to work from home.
For improved focus: Incorporate some of the heavier earth elements into your space. Not so much that it makes you feel sluggish or stagnant, but enough for you to concentrate and feel like your mental acuity has a relatively long lifespan.
Incorporate warmer color tones, matte surfaces instead of shiny ones, bigger furniture, and warm, matte metals like copper, brass, or bronze.
For enhanced creativity: Creativity is an extension of vata dosha, or the ether and air elements. While any dosha can be imaginative and innovative, light and mobile attributes in a space can inspire and drive the desire to create.
For this, use silver, stainless steel, and cool colors or colors you find in the sky. Reflective surfaces like mirrors or glass that allow light to dance will lead to a liveliness in your mind.
Open spaces and lighter or smaller furniture will also allow creative energy to flow. Remember, you must still have your anchors to take advantage of your creative nature, so apply these ideas in moderation to ensure you stay grounded.
For sustained energy: There may be things in your environment that are draining your energy. We want energy to be able to flow freely or unobstructed, but we also want energy to ebb and flow and to be contained.
Circular shapes suggest a cyclic energy, and an abundance of this shape, like with your tables, rugs, frames, or other décor, can contribute to you feeling like you’re on the hamster wheel or in constant motion.
Consider using squares or triangles instead. Avoid a work surface that is made of glass, which can also lead to leaky energy or make it difficult to hang onto thoughts or ideas. Wood or metal is likely to feel better.
Support Your Mind with Ayurvedic Herbs
Incorporating herbs that support your mind can provide that extra little boost to get you through your days with inspiration and ease. Here are a few products that are especially supportive for enhancing mental acuity and focus:
Mental Clarity: This formula is made with several different herbs that work in harmony to support optimal performance of the brain and nervous system, promote memory and intelligence, and boost decisiveness.
Stress Ease: Blending several grounding and nourishing adaptogens, this formula shines in times of anxiousness and overwhelm, promoting balanced energy levels and helping the body to cope with stress and fatigue.
Focus Liquid Extract: This fast-acting liquid extract is a great choice for when you need a little extra boost of calm, concentrated attention.
- 7-Herb Energy Liquid Extract: When you need a little extra pick-me-up without the post-coffee jitters, this product is the perfect choice. Combining traditional Ayurvedic powerhouse herbs with classic adaptogens like American ginseng and red Chinese ginseng, this blend vitalizes the mind and body while also calming and stabilizing the nervous system.
Pinpointing your individual work-related needs, adjusting your daily rhythms to the Ayurvedic clock, and creating a working environment that feels conducive to you can do wonders for a WFH lifestyle that feels nourishing, balanced, and successful.