EVERYONE EXPERIENCES LONELINESS on occasion. Unfortunately, many of us feel it most intensely during the holidays, regardless of whether we are surrounded by friends and family, in a relationship, or alone.
You typically become lonely when you feel disconnected not only from the world around you, but from yourself. It is a state within you, which means the feeling has little or nothing to do with your surroundings and everything to do with your connection to those surroundings. Loneliness doesn’t affect everyone in the same way: You can be alone but not feel lonely, or be in a room full of people but feel isolated.
The good news: The ancient health system of Ayurveda can help you cope. According to Ayurveda, everyone is a unique combination of three doshas, or body energies: vata (air energy), pitta (fire), and kapha (earth). We contain all three elements in varying amounts, and this is everchanging, just as we are ever-changing. (To find out your unique blend, take the quiz at yogajournal.com/doshaquiz.)
Understanding your primary dosha can offer profound insights into how you show up to yourself and to various situations in life, including loneliness. There is no shame in feeling lonely—quite the contrary. Having some sense of why you’re experiencing it can be helpful in moving through it. After all, it’s only when you own an emotion and begin to alter how you label it can you change how you respond to it.
The reasons for finding time for yourself during the holiday season to counteract loneliness are different for each dosha—you may need to put yourself first, draw a boundary with work, or stop distracting yourself from your feelings. But the underlying intention is the same: to consider what your mind and body truly need. That knowledge can help you perceive loneliness, or any undesired emotion, less as a fixed state and more as a reminder to reevaluate what you need. This is the lasting solution to making your holiday season—and your everyday life—more fulfilling.
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If your primary dosha is vata…
People with a lot of vata are airy in nature and always seem to be up to something new or going from one thing to the next. During the holidays, it’s very easy for you to attend too many parties, have too many drinks, or just generally do too much. All this activity can distract you from your feelings of loneliness, which might seem helpful in the short term; but ignoring these emotions can eventually make you feel even more overwhelmed and despondent.
The fix: Skip a few party invitations and embrace some alone time during the holidays. Slow down. Do one thing at a time. Sit with yourself so you can sit with your loneliness.
One of the best things you can do is ground your energy, since all that airiness can cause restlessness, anxiety, and even insomnia. Focus on staying home more, connecting with nature, and going inward to draw on your kapha, or earth energy. Meditate more. Practice slow forms of yoga, such as hatha, Yin, and Restorative. Massage your body with sesame oil (see “Treat Yourself,” page 46) to quiet the internal noise. Take a walk, even if it’s cold outside, to come back to your body and allow your mind to rest in nature.
If you can’t resist the urge to initiate something new, put your creative freethinking toward a daily routine that brings beauty to your life, such as reading, painting, playing or listening to music, or being imaginative in any way. Accept your alone time rather than avoid it. Turn it into something you desire.
If your primary dosha is pitta…
As a fiery pitta, you’re determined to achieve your goals and always have something going on. You tend to feel lonely when you lack control over something. The result: You might tend to obsess about work in an effort to distract yourself. Unfortunately, this just compounds your loneliness because when you’re always busy, there’s no time to devote to your relationships. Confusing your work with your identity can lead to burnout, heightening your emotional overwhelm.
The fix: During the holidays, don’t mask your inherent desire for connection, meaning, intimacy, and purpose by completely booking your schedule. Create some work-life separation. Take it easy. Let the holidays be an opportunity for you to come back to your why.
Contemplate the lifestyle you desire, your core values, and what matters to you. Create a life for yourself from an energy of devotion rather than discipline. Don’t forget to focus on the present. Turn your dedication toward your everyday life. Ease up on your caffeine habit and take a break from intense exercise so you can truly get in touch with yourself.
When you allow yourself to step back, re-assess, and create a life outside of work, you can come back to your career pursuits with more efficiency and energy. You have to move into kapha, the sacred pause and grounding, so that your shift into vata, idea creation, can eventually take place.
“During the holidays, don’t mask your inherent desire for connection, meaning, intimacy, and purpose by completely booking your schedule. … Let the holidays be an opportunity for you to come back to your why.”
If your primary dosha is kapha…
Earthy kaphas tend to be grounded, supportive, stable, and humorous. A natural-born empath, you constantly try to make sure everyone else is OK by checking in with your loved ones, holding space for others, and almost always putting everyone else in front of yourself.
The holiday season can be a really tough time for kaphas. Because human connection is so deeply important to kaphas, you tend to struggle when you’re not surrounded by family and friends. Even when you are in a full house, you can get so busy keeping up with others’ needs that you forget your own—which can cause a deeper sense of loneliness, sadness, and even depression.
The fix: Put yourself first. You deserve all the love you so radiantly give to others!
Keeping yourself surrounded by other people and tending to their needs every moment allows you to distract yourself from your own desires. Instead, check in to see how you feel. Rather than hide from any feelings, allow your body and your mind to move through them by journaling, dancing, or practicing yoga. Continue your daily self-care practices. Keep your lymphatic system flowing through dry-brushing, facial massage, and rebounding (stand with your knees slightly bent, arms at your side, and gently bounce by lifting and lowering your heels).
When you find a way to be in your loneliness rather than hide from it, the result will make those moments you spend with others even more meaningful.
SAHARA ROSE is a best-selling author and host of the Highest Self Podcast, called “a leading voice for the millennial generation into the new paradigm shift” by Deepak Chopra. Connect with her @iamsahararose. ■