Detox: Your Guide to a Fresh Start
Maybe you feel depleted emotionally from scary news or a family squabble. Or maybe your body is physically feeling spent and in need of care after a change of season or a health crisis. And perhaps you are simply overwhelmed by the amount of belongings piled up, or obligations heaped up, or the sheer stress of being a caregiver.
A detox can be just the reboot we need to pause, assess, and rest, before we hit the restart button.
In this special section, you will not find any dangerous diets or rapid juice cleanses. Instead, we went in search of ways to detox in a gentle and mindful manner with fresh, healthy foods like soothing soups; to detox the mind from unwanted emotional clutter; to detox our personal spaces like closets and kitchens and bathrooms, finding peace in newly ordered zones.
We hope you will experiment with one or more of our detox ideas, allowing you to slow down, do some self-care, and feel ready for whatever chapter is next. Cheers to fresh starts!
9 Tips to Detox Your Closet
By Melissa Howsam
We know. It’s easier to shut the door on your closet than to find the headspace to make closet space (and emotional space) as you face letting go of the past.
So many memories (those first-date dress feels); oh, the nostalgia (I remember when little Emma wore those PJs); so much hope (I can lose those pounds and rock these jeans again); and all the guilt (that jacket price tag hurt). A closet detox is not simply decluttering—it’s emotional detox. This garb isn’t just garb at all. It all represents who you are, and who you were. (Keyword: were.) Recognizing that can help you rev up to finally get it done.
So the (de)clutter countdown is officially over, and you are making the space for clean, healthy habits and practices, and, in this case, paring down the past by parting with pieces you no longer have room for, both physically and emotionally. It may seem like parting is such sweet sorrow, but, remember: In order to be who you are going to become, you have to be willing to evolve and let go of who you once were.
Detoxing for Spring: Prep Your Body to Leave Winter Behind
By Dr. Stacie Stephenson
It can seem like winter will go on forever but, of course, spring is imminent, so the time to start getting ready is now. Making sure you get the right vitamins and minerals, as well as consuming the proper diet, can help you greet the new spring with a healthy mind and body.
One of my favorite winter health-boosters is vitamin C. Not only does it support your immune system to help you avoid colds and flu viruses, but it can get you in shape to better combat spring allergy season and the upswing in colds and allergy symptoms that often come with a change of seasons. Fortunately, citrus is in season during winter, so I recommend having half a grapefruit, an orange, or a couple of clementines every day throughout the winter. I also take vitamin C supplements year-round. I take a lot, but if you’re just starting, try 500 mg per day and work up gradually to about 2,000 mg per day. Going up too fast can result in stomach pain and diarrhea, so go slowly.
In the winter, people tend to crave comfort food, but if you’re living on macaroni and cheese and pizza delivery, you’re not going to feel great in the spring. It’s important to keep vegetables in your diet, so try to get a serving or two of veggies at both lunch and dinner. Seasonal choices include winter squash (like butternut and acorn squash), beets, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower, sweet potatoes, and dark leafy greens like kale and collards. A hearty homemade chicken soup full of vegetables will help your body fight off viruses while also giving you that feeling of warmth and comfort. Read more
3 Reasons to Detox Your Body For Spring
Spirituality & Health sat down with Dr. Stacie Stephenson to explore how the change of season from winter to spring affects our bodies. She identified the most common reasons that people struggle to transition from winter to spring and the resulting fallout.
You Put on Extra Weight
Because people are often more sedentary and tend to eat more in the winter (which may be a throwback to when our ancestors needed the extra fat stores), weight gain is the most common complaint I hear in the spring. Some people go into a sort of hibernation mode in the winter, and as they wake up to longer days and warmer temperatures, they may look down at their bodies, surprised, and wonder where that extra weight came from.
You're Out of Shape
Another common problem is that people have become de-conditioned and if they jump into exercise too quickly when the weather gets nicer, they can get injured more easily than they do at the end of the summer when they’ve been more active.
You Increase Your Allergies
Although some people suffer from dust allergies in the winter, many people suddenly start sneezing and getting congested and itchy when spring trees and flowers start to pollinate.
All of these issues can be helped greatly by lifestyle adjustments come springtime, such as choosing lighter, greener foods (it’s salad season); easing into exercise gradually; adding yoga to help keep muscles and joints limber; and boosting immunity to help with allergies. Dr. Stephenson's favorite immune boosters for allergy season are a good-quality probiotic and herbs with antihistamine properties, like stinging nettle and butterbur.
Detox and Declutter Your Bathroom
By Melissa Howsam
When’s the last time you really really dealt with the down and dirty of the (dun-dun-dun) ... bathroom. Ew. Well, it’s time. Think “The Purge”—but less horror thriller (though we admit what’s lurking in the bathroom can be quite scary) and more like going full-on Monica (of “Friends” fame) on that bad boy to deep-clean and detox your bathroom. Here, we break down how to clear out, clean up, purify and maintain your bathroom for good.
Step 1: Declutter
This is the purge. Grab a garbage bag, as well as a separate container or sealable bag for medications. And now, empty all the areas of the room, and we mean all: the medicine cabinet, drawers, cabinets, linen closet, etc. Here’s what to remove:
- Rx. Dispose of unneeded, unmarked, and expired meds. Place these in the separate container and set aside for safe disposal. Google local collection sites or options like DisposeRx and more. (It is not considered safe to flush them or throw them in the trash. Medicine flushed down the drain can get into our lakes and streams, harming wildlife and ultimately ending up in our drinking water.)
- Expired products. All products have a shelf-life. Anything that is past it needs to go. Empty containers and recycle them.
- Half-used bath products. Be honest with yourself—if you were going to use it, you already would have. Time for it to go.
- Samples. Free stuff is great, but it can make for clutter. Sort your samples and ditch any you do not truly plan to use. For those you keep, store them together to take on weekend trips in place of bulkier products. Read more
Want recipes to help support your detox? Check these out:
A Safe Spring Detox
By Dr. Stacie Stephenson
Your body has a very complex and effective detoxification system, so while a spring detox isn’t necessary, there are certainly things you can do to support that detoxification system, especially after a long winter of being sedentary and possibly overeating.
That being said, I do not recommend juice cleanses or any kind of juice fasting. While there are some medical conditions where this can be effective under the supervision of a doctor, I believe that food, not the lack of it, is the best way to support detoxification. Juice has concentrated nutrients but it also has concentrated sugar and it lacks the fiber your digestive system needs to sweep away waste. In fact, it is particularly important not to detoxify when your digestive system is sluggish because the primary way your body gets rid of toxins is to flush them out through the digestive system. If you are constipated, those toxins will sit in the digestive tract where they could be reabsorbed, defeating the whole purpose of detoxifying.
So the short answer is that a spring detox can be useful, but it should concentrate on facilitating digestion, not eliminating food. Here are my keys to a spring detox that will support your body safely. Read more
Spring Cleaning: Detox the Mind
In our detox series, we looked at many perspectives on detoxing, from clean nutrition to decluttering. Well, what about our spring cleaning our minds? We asked Dr. Stacie Stephenson, a physician and lecturer focused on regenerative, functional, and natural medicine, for her advice. Stephenson is also the chair of Functional Medicine for Cancer Treatment Centers of America and CEO of Vibrant Doc. Here’s her advice:
“To give your mind its own ‘cleanse,’ which can help with mood as well as with stress levels, I suggest taking a break just for you, every day. I like to take some time every morning to relax, maybe do some yoga at my own pace, meditate, do some deep breathing, or just sit with a hot cup of tea and think about nothing. Sometimes I’ll take a walk if it’s a sunny winter day. The point is that I spend this time just for me and I keep it electronics-free and work-free. This helps me start the day with a calm, clear head.
I recommend committing to a practice like this daily, whether it’s in the morning or evening. Take at least 30 minutes to completely relax and let your mind rest, away from screens and noise and input from other people. It’s incredibly rejuvenating and it’s one of the best ways to spark creativity. I come up with some of my best ideas during morning me-time. Spring might be the perfect time to begin this practice, but I recommend keeping it up all year round.”