Have you ever done, or at least thought about doing, a “detox” or a “cleanse”? Chances are you have or, at least, you're thinking about it! Not too long ago, detoxing was reserved for the most extreme natural health groups. Today, it has become a household name, and even those people with just the slightest concern about their health have jumped on the bandwagon.
The point of detoxification is to flush out toxins and other harmful substances, helping you recharge your body and improve overall health. But while physical cleanses certainly have a variety of health benefits when done correctly, emotional health – an important part of overall wellness – is often overlooked.
An emotional cleanse will help you handle emotions with ease and detox your entire system so that you can reach your full potential and enjoy the abundant life. Trust me, it's really THAT important and I invite you along the journey with me…
My “A-Ha” Moment
I actually only discovered emotional detoxing recently. I was giving a talk at the Truth About Cancer's Ultimate Live Symposium in Dallas where I spoke about Beating Cancer God’s Way. Here are the four topics I discussed:
- How to Overcome the Diagnosis Death Sentence
- Faith and Prayer “Work”
- The Healing Power of Positive Thinking
- Discovering Your “Why”
I received an overwhelming response from the crowd. It really touched my heart. Not only did people approach me after the session with their own stories and questions, but the outpouring of emails and letters I received was incredible. Many doctors leave out the emotional healing aspect of wellness these days, leaving many patients recovered physically, but reeling in spiritual and emotional torment. These people are looking for help anywhere they can find it. It moved me so much that I created a special webclass so that people who missed the TTAC live event could still benefit from what I shared.
–> To watch my presentation, click HERE!
As I listened – and read – their stories, something dawned on me. What people are really craving, beyond physical healing, is emotional healing. Many cancer patients are unable to process what’s happening to them due to an emotional haze that lingers on and on. This prevents them from understanding what is happening to their bodies and from making wise decisions.
At that point, I knew there was a missing gap in emotional healing and I set out to fill it. My goal in this article is to give you the bottom line, most actionable steps to help you start your journey…
- Emotional Detoxification: What it is and what it is not.
- Emotional Cleansing: Why it is necessary.
- Emotional Detox: How to do it effectively.
- Taking Care of Your Emotional Needs: Best practices.
I find it rather surprising that no one seems to talk about emotional detoxification more. Both positive and negative emotional are important and part of being human, but when we can’t manage them properly we can find ourselves in a downward spiral fast. This can have a serious impact on every aspect of our lives – especially our health!
What is Emotional Detoxification?
We’ve all been there. After a stretch of poor eating habits and other unhealthy activities, our bodies start to feel sluggish and ill. The holidays, in which many people take a break from healthy eating to indulge in Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas cookies and other treats, are one instance for example. Or maybe we went to one too many happy hours with colleagues or clients after work.
When bad chemicals build up in our bodies, it causes a toxic overload. This can make us feel lethargic or even make us sick. In a similar way, negative emotions can build up in our bodies, too. This can weigh heavily on our minds, spirts and bodies when ignored.
Just as a physical detox removes the chemicals and other toxins that make us sick, an emotional detox will help cleanse all the negative emotions that plague our minds and souls. Toxic emotions build up over time and begin to have an impact on our relationships, careers and overall stress levels. Our bodies even begin to take a toll.
With an emotional detox, individuals can regain control of their live with mental balance and, eventually, happiness. This is important to ensure we are getting the most out of life!
How to Know if You Need an Emotional Detox
Life is just one big rollercoaster. Experiencing extreme emotions is part of what makes us human. We face challenges every day that cause us to experience negative emotions. And while almost everyone can benefit from an emotional detox, anyone currently experience toxic emotions may want to start sooner than later.
Here are a few signs you need an emotional detox:
Anyone experiencing negative emotions or thoughts should consider an emotional cleanse.
“There is an enormous physical burden to being hurt and disappointed,” said Dr. Karen Swartz, the director of the Mood Disorders Adult Consultation Clinic at The Johns Hopkins Hospital.
Overtime, any or all of these negative emotions can build up and begin to harm our mental and physical health. “Chronic emotions, such as anger and hurt, can lead to an increased heart rates, higher blood pressure, and poor immune response, all of which can ultimately lead to higher risk of depression, heart disease, diabetes, and other serious conditions. (1)
Weak Immune System
When your immune system is down, your overall health is at risk. This is a good sign that you need an emotional detox. Among many other contributing factors, chronic stress is a primary cause of a weakened immune system. Chronic stress as result of negative emotions can certainly have a harmful effect on your immune system.
Stress and other negative feelings can make it harder to recover from an illness, according to the American Psychological Association (APA). (2) In one study, cardiac patients with chronic stress faced higher risks and poorer outcomes than those not experiencing stress. (3) Plus, stress and other negative emotions can also make pre-existing conditions worse. For example, a different study showed that half of all participants were able to reduce chronic headache pain by not constantly thinking about and focusing on the pain. (4)
Gut and Digestion Health
There’s an old saying that says, “The quickest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” But did you know that the quickest way to the stomach is through the brain. In fact, the brain has a direct impact on gastrointestinal health and negative emotions can have an impact. Emotions, such as anger, anxiety and sadness, can all trigger symptoms in your gut. These symptoms can include nausea, upset stomach, reflux and leaky gut. People who experience gastrointestinal issues on a regular basis have seen significant results after an emotional cleanse.
“Psychosocial factors influence the actual physiology of the gut, as well as symptoms,” according to a review conducted by Harvard Medical School. (5) “In other words, stress (or depression or other psychosocial factors) can affect movement and contractions of the GI tract, make inflammation worse, or perhaps make you more susceptible to infection.” The review, which looked at 13 different studies, found that patients who tried psychologically-based methods in addition to orthodox medical treatments, saw a larger improvement in digestive health issues than those treated with conventional methods alone.
11 Ways to Detox Your Emotions
Taking regular emotional detox breaks will help you handle your emotions with ease and cleanse your entire system so that you can reach your full potential and enjoy the abundant life. This is how my daughter Bella and I like to do it. We invite you along the journey with us…
While detoxing your emotions is important, it’s easier said than done. The following 11 tips will give you a good starting point for setting out on your emotional detoxing journey. I have ordered these steps by which I find most important. If you tackle each one at a time, you’ll be well on your way to living the abundant life!
1. Forgive Others
We’ve all been hurt by someone at one time or another. But holding on to that pain is one of the unhealthiest things we can do. Letting go of the past and forgiving those who have wronged you is the first step to emotional detox. A grudge can not only weigh on you mentally and emotionally, but physically as well. The longer you keep these grudges, the more the negative feelings have time to take hold on your soul.
There is good news, though. Letting go and forgiving can help you release the metaphorical and physical burdens that have been impacting your health. Stop fighting and start forgiving, and the results may surprise you. In fact, research has shown that people who forgive identify hills to be less steep and could jump higher in a test of fitness. (6) Forgiveness is so powerful, that once you forgive those who have wronged you, your entire outlook on life can change.
2. Forgive Yourself
It’s the golden rule: Love others as you love yourself. But what if you don’t love yourself? What if you look into the mirror and loath the person looking back? This is where the second step in emotional detoxing come into play. By forgiving yourself, you’ll find it’s easier to release toxic emotions that have built up over the years.
Regret and shame are two negative emotions that can quickly take over you psyche and take control of you mind and spirit. Stop blaming yourself for the past and look toward the future and achieving your full potential. A survey conducted with 266 healthy college students found that self-forgiveness has a positive impact on physical health. (7) The study proved that going beyond forgiving other and forgiving yourself is integral physical health. So how do you forgive yourself, you may ask? Start by realizing the past is the past and no amount of mourning or regret can change that. Move on, slowly if needed, and focus on things you can change.
3. Practice Self Love
Now that you have forgiven yourself and others, it’s time to love yourself. Self-love is the next step in an emotional cleanse. We are bombarded on a daily basis with images, especially in the media, of what we “should” look or feel like. This can have a harmful effect on us and cause us to feel hurt, shameful or even discouraged. But by realizing that we are all a gift from God and practicing self-love, we can move past these negative emotions.
Now, realize that there’s no right or wrong way to practice self-love. It’s different for each and every one of us. As long as you’re working to build your self-esteem, you’re moving in the right direction. Self-esteem plays a critical role in our physical health. One study reported that those with high self-esteem had significantly higher health status scores and fewer negative health symptoms than others who needed an emotional detox and were guilty of self-loathing. (8)
4. Recite Positive Affirmations
A positive affirmation is a specific statement that uses positive language to break the cycle of negative thoughts and help you visualize change.
Reciting positive affirmations is one of the easiest and quickest ways to build self-esteem and self-love. Constant negative thoughts not only lowers your self-esteem, but as I’ve documented above, they also have severe impacts on your physical health.
Several studies have highlighted the impact of positive affirmation on individual growth. One study found that using self-affirmation could help you be less self-protective and more approachable when it comes to admitting errors (9). This can help you circumvent feeling hurt by criticism. Another study showed that self-affirmation could improve problem solving under stress, which can have important implications for boosting academic and workplace achievement (10). Yet another study suggested that self-affirmation have a positive impact on symptom management. This study examined the effects of self- affirmation on chemotherapy-related symptoms and found that those patients who practiced positive affirmations had a decrease in pain, tiredness, drowsiness, lack of appetitive, depression, anxiety, and lack of well-being. (11)
If you need some help with positive affirmations, Carmen Harra, a best-selling author and clinical psychologist, has a list of 35 Affirmations That Will Change Your Life. Read these. Print them out. Tape them to your bathroom mirror, computer monitor or steering wheel. Go the extra level and print a travel-size version you can carry with you at all time.
5. Don’t Look Back
Not that you’ve made it this far and you have the fundamentals behind you, don’t look back.
Hindsight is 20/20 and it’s easy to look back and regret the decisions we have made. Don’t do it. While it’s natural to regret when you’ve made a mistake or taken the wrong path, coping with that regret is important to maintaining proper physical health. Researchers at Concordia University conducted a study that examined the difference between how younger and older adults cope with regret. Those who were shown case studies of people worse off than themselves, saw significant emotional wellbeing improvements over the course of several months. (12)
In essence, the study suggests that being thankful for what you have now may be the key to effectively coping with regret. While learning to cope with regret can take time, there are a few helpful ways you can work on letting go:
- Remind yourself that life is a journey
- Remind yourself that everyone makes mistakes
- Remind yourself how great you are on a daily basis
You should look at the past as a learning opportunity. Instead of dwelling on the things you did wrong, learn from those mistakes. When you look at the past in this light, positive change will come.
6. Have a Good Cry by Yourself
We’ve all had moments in private where we just break out into tears for one reason or another. There are many emotional benefits to crying. Whether you’ve lost a loved one, ended a relationship or have witnesses a touching moment, shedding tears is a great way to express your emotions and learn more about yourself. Crying is also beneficial to an emotional detox.
Tears are therapeutic, according to the American Psychological Association. In fact, crying releases many toxic substances from the body, including those found in cortisol, the stress hormone, according to research conducted by biochemist Dr. William H. Frey II. (13) Crying relieves stress and elevates your mood. One study from University of South Florida found that crying can be self-soothing, and 90 percent of those studied found that crying actually improved their mood. (14)
Whenever you feel like you may need an emotional release, you might want to try a good cry in private before sharing your hurt with a friend or loved one, who probably isn’t qualified to handle their own pain, let alone yours.
7. Cry with Someone You Trust
After you have cried it out on your own and learned to forgive and practice self-love, it’s now time to speak with a close friend, loved one, or even a professional counselor. Since we all hold on to negative feelings, such as regret, stress, fear and anger, it’s important to talk with someone who can relate to your situation.
A support system of that nature will help you heal quicker and maintain an emotional balance in the long run. In fact, research confirms, “strong social and emotional support is a powerful stress buster that improves health and prolongs life,” according to the American Institute of Stress. (15) However, it’s important that you don’t open up and dump your toxic emotions on just anyone. Remember, sharing details of this nature gives the other person an open window into the intimate parts of your life and relationships. Try to find less judgmental people to confide in. This is where speaking with a professional may be better.
8. Make Sure to Have Faith
Ask yourself this: “Do I deserve to be well? Do I believe emotional stability, and therefore the abundant life, is possible?” If you honestly answered, “Yes,” to those questions, you’re ready to move on. Having faith in yourself is the next phase of an emotional detox. It’s not enough to just go through the motions if you don’t believe in yourself. As we discussed early, negative self-talk has an impact on your emotional and physical state.
Once you have convinced yourself that emotional cleanse is possible, you will begin to develop positive feelings and emotions, which will push you to succeed in life. Not only is an emotional detox within your reach, but it’s within your God-given right to be happy, healthy and emotionally stable.
9. Finding a Healthy Retreat
So many factors affect our emotional health. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that our environment is one of the biggest contributing factors. Finding a quiet, relaxing place to sit and reflect is vital to restoring our mental and emotional balance and finding our center. This can be hard when kids, coworkers or other people surround you. Breaking free from the chaos is integral to emotional freedom. Find a quiet place and go there.
For me, that quiet place is God’s Country. Open, natural spaces bring a sense of calm to many people, myself included. In fact, nature has proven better at helping people concentrate than more urban settings. (16) Visit a local park, take a walk or hike or just find a place to sit and take in all God has created; your health depends on it.
10. Remove Distractions
An important part of an emotional detox is to avoid distractions at almost any cost. People, places and things can all distract from what’s truly important: your emotional health. While you work to cleanse negative emotions, you are more susceptible to hurt because your guard is down. Be honest with yourself when opening up to others and avoid those who may feed on negative thoughts. These people will do anything to stop you from achieving a full emotional cleanse.
Likewise, you should also avoid places or situations with similar motives. Time after time, I see people visit places that are associated with negative memories. This self-destructive behavior is counterproductive. If you have yet to get to a place in which you can cope with these memories in a health way, you should avoid dredging them up.
Instead, you should focus on surrounding yourself with positive people and creating new positive memories.
11. Ditch Social Media
Yes, I know, this one is much easier said than done. But think about it. Our addictive relationships with social media is unhealthy. Taking a break from Facebook and other social media site, at least while you’re in recovery, is important. While keeping in touch with family and friend is also important, the negative effects of social media far outweigh the positives during an emotional detox.
Facebook, for example, can trigger feelings of jealousy and envy and cause you to develop unrealistic comparisons, one study found. This has serious consequences on your overall wellbeing and can even lead to depression. (17) Another study found that those who took a week-long break from social media had were happier and had significantly more satisfied with their lives. (18) This research is evidence that taking a social media fast is imperative to an emotional cleanse.
Take Care of Yourself – It’s Important
Once you’ve completed each step successfully, it’s important to maintain that emotional stability and take care of yourself. We’re all busy and it’s easy to forget to look out for “numero uno.” Take time to pamper yourself with a nice long bath, a spa day or just getting out of the house or the office.
Here is a recipe for simple DIY detox bath with essential oils:
- 1 cup Epsom Salts or bath crystals
- 1⁄4 cup Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
- 1 tablespoon of carrier oil
- 2 drops of lemon essential oil
- 5 drops of lavender essential oil
- Mixed the essential oils and carrier oil in a glass.
- Mix in ACV and Epsom salts .
- While filling your tub with warm water, pour in mixture slowly pour in mixture while the water is running.
- Take time to relax and enjoy the benefits, allowing your body to soak for 20 to 30 minutes.
Aromatherapy with some stress-reducing essential oils is also effective. Orange, lemon lavender, chamomile and rose are just a few essential oils that help with stress. By diffusing these oils throughout the day, you will greatly reduce your overall stress and continue the positive effects of your emotional detox.
Take Time to Pray
Prayer is extremely important when it comes to living the abundant life. Research shows that few things are as effective at promoting emotional healing as prayer. It helps you manage stress more effectively and works on so many other levels. In fact, one literature review of research on prayer and spirituality found that those who live a spiritual life typically have better mental health and adapt more quickly to health problems than those who do not. (19)
To help you pray, be sure to use my Essential Oil Blend for Meditation and Mindfulness!
Talk to a Professional
Your family and friend are probably poorly equipped to effectively help you deal with your negative emotions. If you get a sense that they lack empathy, it’s not because they don’t care, it’s because they can’t relate. A professional can provide guidance as long as you’re not afraid to ask. Talking about your feelings is an important step in an emotional detox and you need to ensure you talking to the right person.
Seeking professional counseling is not a sign of weakness. It doesn’t mean you have failed. In fact, it actually shows how committed you are to your own detox and finding emotional balance. Be honest with yourself and take an honest look at your needs. When you embrace someone else’s strengths, you can find a more strategic path to full mental and emotional detox.