Spring is just around the corner, and with it comes a natural time of cleansing, renewal, and new possibilities.
In the natural health world this is THE time of year for detox cleanse mania through fasting, juicing, elimination diets, etc.
But I would suggest to you today, the most important thing you can do to detoxify your body and renew your health is to embark on an emotional detox plan.
Don’t get me wrong, I am all for the benefits of gentle spring cleansing using herbs, diet, and specific detox techniques, but your body can only be as healthy as your mind and heart allow.
There is no refuting that stress is at the root of nearly every modern chronic disease—from heart attacks to leaky gut. I point this out not to frighten you but to illustrate the vital role emotions and reactions play in your overall health and longevity.
Emotional detoxification benefits everyone, but today we’re going to focus on specific stress management tips for women.
Women are naturally perceptive, caring, intuitive beings. And every woman has different gifts and strengths in this regard.
Regardless, because of the way we’re wired we tend to experience a lot of feelings and emotions.
Despite the old stigma (that is dissolving all too slowly) that women are “emotional”, “irrational”, or “just hormonal”, this capacity to feel deeply offers us immense power, compassion, and control over our lives and circumstances.
But with that naturally large capacity to feel, to love, and to perceive, comes the need to filter out, cleanse, and protect ourselves from emotional patterns that do not serve us.
Women’s emotional health is a broad topic and I would like to offer you some tools on how to naturally detoxify the two main emotional stressors I see affecting women’s health:
Emotional Health Stressor#1: Worry
Worry, concern, fear, anxiety, whatever you want to call it most of us (and our mothers) succumb to its temptation. And it seems to intensify when we have children.
We worry about what they’re eating, how they’re sleeping, if they’re “getting ahead”, who their friends are, how they are perceived…the list goes on and on.
Plus, there’s a social pressure for mothers to worry, isn’t there?
I mean, if you’re not worrying about your kids then other parents (or your own family) may not think you’re involved or that you care enough.
This is a long-standing and unhealthy precedent I would like to see our generation overcome.
When we engage in chronic worrying we show our children, through our emotional reactions, that their world is not a safe place, that life can’t be trusted, and (sadly) that we don’t trust ourselves OR them for that matter.
The health implications of chronic worrying are vast and include damage to your digestive tract, immune system, and microbiome (see last month’s post on “The Physiology behind Gut Psychology”) , cardiovascular health and your sleep patterns, which help regulate hormonal balance.
We’ll look at some simple ways you can start detoxifying chronic worry coming up.
Emotional Health Stressor #2: Guilt
Guilt can be a beneficial emotion, as it lets us know if we’ve done something wrong so we can take action to fix it.
But in another sense, chronic guilt or self-imposed guilt is downright toxic and is often rooted in shame, comparing oneself to others, and trying to live up to what we imagine are other people’s expectations.
We are bad about this ladies, let’s face it. In our quest to “have it all” we end up feeling guilty about not being able to “manage it all” perfectly.
The truth is we all have our own life path to forge and to honor, and that is highly individual to each of us.
Comparisons and trying to be “perfect” do not serve us and end up holding us all back. Prioritizing your life is key, and we’ll look at some solutions for that below.
Health wise, studies like this one, suggest that self-shame or guilt increase inflammation which affects your entire body most notably your immune and digestive systems.
It’s time to kick these negative emotions to curb and re-embrace your feminine power.
Here are my top 7 emotional detoxification tools for women:
1. Commit to journaling down your emotions every night before bed for 1 month—journaling is a form of mental-detox, and can help mediate your stress response, quell your worries, and help you sleep.
In addition to writing down your uncensored thoughts, try making a list of what you need to accomplish the following day, so you won’t lie awake at night worrying about it. Try it for 1 month and see how you feel.
2. Stop hiding from your emotions, just sit and feel them—in her best-selling book, “The Conscious Parent”, Dr. Shefali Tsabary shares the importance of learning to “just sit in your pain”.
When you feel a negative feeling just sit quietly and feel it, breathe deeply, and allow it to pass. Don’t try and distract yourself and hide from it. This little trick does wonders for dealing with anxiety and everyday worries. Try it!
3. Ditch downer-foods—how you eat greatly determines your emotional response to stress.
By identifying and eliminating certain foods such as sugar, processed foods, gluten, artificial sweeteners, excess caffeine, and dairy (for some), and focusing on eating whole foods, fermented foods (for your “second brain”), and getting enough quality protein you’ll fortify your body to process stress in a new way.
4. Scale back on screen and media time—oh how we love our digital devices. But excessive screen time takes its toll and has been proven to increase anxiety, sleeplessness, and social isolation.
Resolve to put your phone down after 7PM and to take at least 1 media-free day a week. Do this and you’ll instantly worry less and eliminate a lot of media-induced guilt.
5. Work on your gut health—the gut has been called “the second brain” because it is intimately connected with your brain via the gut-brain-axis, and houses the majority of your serotonin and other feel-good neurotransmitters.
Because of this intimate connection, stress, worry, and guilt are damaging to your gut and thus your entire body can suffer.
Some easy ways to promote gut health are to practice relaxation techniques, eat probiotic and prebiotic-rich foods, spend time outdoors to build up your microbiome, and eliminate processed foods. Read more about the gut-brain connection here.
6. Practice small stress-relieving practices daily—studies have shown simple things like taking a few moments to listen to music, gardening, going outdoors, laughing, stretching, and spending time with loved ones all help relieve stress.
Take a 5 minute break every couple hours to engage in something that makes you feel happy.
7. Utilize homeopathy and aromatherapy—I am a big fan of the Bach Flower Essence homeopathics (the most popular known as “Rescue Remedy”) to help overcome difficult emotional patterns. Choose “Pine” for guilt, and “Rock Rose”, “Elm”, or “White Chestnut” for worry
Aromatherapy is also beneficial for emotional detoxing. If you’re feeling worried or anxious, try inhaling pure essential oils of orange, mandarin, lavender, chamomile, or bergamot.
For feelings of guilt or shame try pettigrain and spearmint.
I hope these emotional detoxification tools have inspired you to look at the importance of “spring cleansing” in a whole new way.
And remember, you are not alone in this.
If enough of us work to change this worry-guilt-shame pattern it will start to disappear fast. And as the mother of young girl, I would really love to see that happen and I know you would too.
Wherever your dreams, your destiny, and your innate gifts may take you, a purposeful and meaningful life starts with how you feel in your body, mind, and heart.
Be sure and take the time to nourish, care for, and detoxify all three this spring.