Do You Need an Emotional Detox? Five Signs and Their Symptoms

Do You Need an Emotional Detox? Five Signs and Their Symptoms


Are you suffering from these emotional detox symptoms? It may be time to make a change.

As an emotional detox coach, I regularly encounter individuals who are interested in detox of some kind. Many people turn to physical detoxes to remove impurities, chemicals, and toxins from their system. You’ll often see juices, power foods, and supplements that claim to have the power to relieve bodily inflammation, reduce tension, and improve your energy levels. But have ever considered an emotional detox instead? How do you know you need one?

Here are five signs that it’s time for an emotional detox.

1. Repeating Circumstances

Have you ever felt like situations keep repeating themselves? For example, maybe you find yourself repeatedly getting yourself into situations where you do all the work. This can show up in relationships both at home and in the workplace. You may find yourself giving more than you are receiving. Are you taking on the tasks, roles, and responsibilities of others to manage your anxiety of not having them done? Or maybe you find yourself in situations and positions where you feel taken advantage of. The key is to notice the repetition. My rule of thumb is if it happens three times or more, there is a pattern, and you could benefit from emotional detoxing.

Emotional Detox Symptoms

  • Repeated thoughts, fears, and worries (Read about rumination.)
  • Forecasting the worst-case scenario
  • Giving more than receiving
  • “What if” thinking

2. Trouble Being in the Moment

Do you have difficulty being in the moment? Perhaps you find yourself easily distracted. As a result, you may turn to outside substances or devices to escape the busyness of both your inner and outer world—things like social media, binge-watching television, or stress-eating. If so, an emotional detox may be in order.

[Read: “Existential Angst and Social Media.”]

Emotional Detox Symptoms

  • Restlessness
  • Being easily distracted
  • Nervousness
  • Stress-eating

3. Lack of Purpose

In my work as an emotional detox coach, I see this show up in one of two ways: Either you feel a lack of purpose in your life, or you desire more to find your purpose or calling in life. In other words, you don’t feel like you are contributing to society or the planet in a way that feels fulfilling. This can make life seem meaningless and sometimes lonely. If this is you, know you are not alone.

Emotional Detox Symptoms

  • Feeling like a burden
  • Feeling frustrated
  • A feeling of being stuck (Discover seven antidotes to feeling stuck.)
  • Lack of connection with others
  • Feelings of being restricted by life circumstances

4. Poor Sleep

If you have a poor sleep schedule you might want to also consider an emotional detox. Learning how to process pent-up emotions will help you ease your way into bed and stay there.

Emotional Detox Symptoms

  • Trouble falling or staying asleep
  • Waking up tired
  • Low levels of energy
  • Mental fog

5. Bodily Tension

Emotions are a big part of our memory system. Your brain and body stores memories based on the strength of the emotion. In other words, if you've experienced a stressful, fearful emotion where your heart raced and your blood started pumping, this can leave an imprint on your emotional (limbic) system. Even though the event is over without proper support (e.g., therapy) you may experience times when your nervous system goes through a similar reaction. As this occurs, stress hormones pump through your body, reinforcing the memories (of fear, anxiety) that already exist.

Emotional Detox Symptoms

  • Chronic tension (e.g., neck and shoulder tension)
  • Tightness
  • Anxiety
  • Feeling burdened by your past

• • •

There are no hard, fast rules to emotional detox. Some people find spending time in nature does the trick while others turn to mindful practices such as yoga, tai chi, and meditation. That said, I do find it helps to have a little structure. I developed a mindful seven-step system placed in the acronym of CLEANSE. The system is featured in my new book Emotional Detox Now: 135 Self-Guided Practices to Renew Your Mind, Heart & Spirit.

Emotional detox symptoms

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