An emotional detox teaches you how to manage negative emotions and makes it possible to live a life full of joy, peace, and happiness.
A few years ago, I decided I needed to clean up my diet. I felt sluggish and bloated all the time and knew that my diet was to blame. I planned to batch cook meals once a week and make a smoothie a day to boost my nutrient and vitamin intake. As my eating habits changed, I felt great physically. I had more energy, and I was incredibly productive.
With the world changing around us, I’ve started to think about how people cope emotionally. We’re carrying around so much stress, worry, fear, and anxiety. But instead of dealing with these emotions head-on, we tuck them away with the promise of addressing them “one day.”
Physical prompts, like when I felt sluggish, tell us when it’s time to change our eating and exercise habits. But how do we know when it’s time to address our emotional well-being? The good news is we can do an emotional detox. This detox type helps us kick down the walls around our negative emotions and improve our emotional health.
To help you figure out whether it’s time for emotional detox, let’s look at precisely what this detox is, the signs it’s time to do one, and how to detox successfully.
What is an Emotional Detox?
When you think about a cleanse or detox, the first thing to come to mind is getting rid of something wrong. Emotional detox is slightly different. Instead of merely getting rid of bad feelings, the goal is to learn how to respond to self-defeating emotions. When we know how to process our feelings healthily, we minimize the effects of emotions that leave us feeling stressed, anxious, disconnected, and overwhelmed.
Emotional detoxes are essential because our emotions connect to our physical health. Have you ever had a bad day at work, and the negative thoughts turn into a headache? Or have you stressed out about a significant life event, and your eating habits change drastically? These are just two examples of how our emotional health impacts our physical health.
It’s important to step back and look at our emotional response to circumstances. Why did you lose your temper when someone offered feedback at work? Or why did you get angry at a cashier when the line at the grocery store moved too slowly?
Chances are, the frustration you feel isn’t because of the person or situation in front of you. Your frustration is the result of pent up emotions from experiences that are bubbling just under the surface.
You’ll know it’s time for an emotional detox when you experience any of the following symptoms:
Emotional and cognitive symptoms:
- Inability to focus
- Constant anxiety
- Self-inflicted isolation
- Desperate thoughts
- Feeling stagnant
- Sore muscles
- Weight issues
Being aware of your emotional well-being is the first step in completing an emotional detox. We’ll explore the detox process more but first, let’s talk about what you get out of doing a detox.
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4 Benefits of an Emotional Detox
At the end of a juice cleanse or detox, you might feel lighter or even refreshed. The effects of emotional detox are the same. By dealing with our emotions head-on, we clear our minds and position ourselves to handle our circumstances better. Let’s say you missed out on a promotion at work. Instead of succumbing to negative thoughts about your abilities, your thoughts will instead focus on ways to add more value at work and stand out for the next opportunity after an emotional detox.
An emotional detox helps you open up to enjoy positive emotions like love, happiness, and trust. Your situation, regardless of the circumstances, doesn’t stop you from feeling positive emotions.
Other benefits of an emotional detox include:
- Improved relationships. Instead of holding onto anger and shutting down, you can process the circumstances that made you feel angry. Whether you’re dealing with a close friend or spouse, you can talk about your feelings and move forward instead of getting stuck. Taking control of your emotions also helps you empathize and show compassion to others.
- Improved physical health. Research shows that if left unchecked, negative emotions wreak havoc on your immune system. However, by merely practicing gratitude, research also indicates that you improve your immune system, lower your blood pressure, and enhance your sleep.
- Balanced and stable emotional health. Instead of losing your temper or closing yourself off to people, improved emotional health helps you recognize a problem. You proactively take action to restore your well being instead of letting negative feelings fester.
- More adaptable. Hanging onto negative emotions makes it hard to adapt to new situations. When we accept that change isn’t always bad, we become open to unique circumstances and see positive opportunities. You’ll even find that you can navigate negative situations better. If you lose your job, you figure out what you want to do next, dust off your resume, and move forward. You don’t get stuck thinking about what happened and how bad you feel.
Now that you know what to look for and the benefits of an emotional detox. Let’s look at a few ways to complete a detox.
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5 Ways to Do an Emotional Detox
1. Get to the root cause of emotional distress.
The “5 Whys” is a problem-solving technique used in business. Instead of fixing superficial problems, the method helps you dig deeper to find the root cause. The way the technique works is you ask “why” five times until you can identify a countermeasure that solves the main problem and stops it from happening again.
Even though the “5 Whys” technique applies to businesses, you can use it to understand your feelings and brainstorm ways to react differently. Here’s an example:
Use the countermeasure you’ve uncovered to prepare better next time instead of thinking about how you’re going to mess up the presentation.
2. Practice forgiveness.
Often the people we feel have wronged us have no idea they’ve done anything wrong. We feel like victims of injustice, unable to eat, sleep, or go about our day. When this situation happens, instead of letting negative thoughts run wild or think the worst about yourself and the other person, practice forgiveness. The truth is, unforgiveness only hurts you, not the other person. Forgiveness isn’t easy, but it’s essential to let go of the negative emotions so that you can move on.
Also, remember to forgive yourself for your negative thoughts and emotions. We aren’t perfect and shouldn’t try to be. We’ll sometimes stumble, so use your negative thoughts and feelings as cues. When you have an idea, replace it with something positive. Don’t worry, this process gets more comfortable with time.
Learn about the power of pressing pause to reduce stress and be kind to yourself: Pause: Harnessing The Life-Changing Power Of Giving Yourself A Break.
3. Step away from stressors.
Social media is a great way to connect with people, stay up to date with world news, and share your ideas. But, it can also be a toxic place to hang out. Limit the time you spend scrolling your newsfeed and replace this time with another activity. For example, call a friend, go for a walk, or listen to a podcast. Stepping away from social media and anything else that causes you stress gives you a break from the negativity that can wear down your emotional well being.
4. Start a new hobby.
Have you always wanted to get into painting? Start a side hustle? Learn to cook? Now’s the time to do it, no more excuses. Book that class, buy that domain name, or buy supplies. After you start your new hobby, take note of how you feel. Do you feel rejuvenated, relaxed, or happy? Figure out what activities bring you joy and are unrelated to your day-to-day work and responsibilities. Then schedule some time in your calendar. Don’t forget to set reminders.
By choosing a hobby that’s unrelated to your day-to-day life, you can take your mind off what’s bothering you. You’ll feel less stressed, and you might even come up with exciting solutions to problems while your mind’s occupied.
5. Let yourself feel your emotions.
It’s OK to cry sometimes. Instead of bottling up your emotions and trying to be “strong,” let go. Crying is one way to release the emotional baggage you’ve been carrying around with you. As you cry, think about the negative emotions that have held you back or caused you to think negatively about yourself. Then think about all the reasons why these thoughts aren’t real. For example, if you think you’ll never succeed because of a recent setback, remind yourself of everything you’ve accomplished so far. Give yourself time to cry and think. Be honest with yourself – don’t hold anything back. This process is how you move past negative emotions that keep you stagnant.
As you work through changing how you respond to negative emotions, take some time to understand your triggers. For example, if you know that traffic stresses you out, get prepared before you leave. For instance, download episodes of your favourite podcasts or audiobooks to calm your mind as your car inches forward.
Please choose one of the emotional detox ideas above and focus on it for a few weeks. As you start to see changes in your response to negative emotions, add in another approach. With time, patience, and practice, you’ll notice an emotional shift. You’ll still have hard days, but you’ll have learned how to respond to them healthily.
Best of luck, I’m rooting for you!