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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.
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.
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.”]
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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