Lately, I’ve been seeing so many people talking about clearing things out – of their homes, their diets, and their minds. There’s so much freedom to be had when you let go of things that aren’t serving you well. Let’s face it – clutter of any kind is a source of stress – and who needs any more of that these days?
I recently found myself at home with a lot of time on my hands. While much of my energy was spent resting and restoring my body and brain, I also had time to really consider what I have accumulated over time.
Even though I pride myself on the work I’ve done to identify what’s really important to me and let go of a lot of things, both physically and emotionally, things have begun to pile up as I work furiously to build my new online courses and shift the way I’m practicing.
I started making piles – things to keep, things that needed filing or storage, and things that could leave the house for good, whether as donations or trash. It was quite liberating to see how quickly I could clear things out. And I realized that it was time to also consider the clutter in my body! After all, I rarely get sick – so what had built up that allowed me to succumb this time?
Our bodies have multiple systems for naturally detoxifying: the skin, kidneys, liver, bladder, small and large intestines, and lymph system all play a role. Sometimes, these systems get overloaded with clutter, leading to imbalances, build up of toxins, and all kinds of symptoms.
There are plenty of things you can do to help your body get rid of all this clutter. They’re things I talk about a lot in other articles, so I won’t elaborate too much here. Try the following tips to give your body the support it needs for natural detoxification:
- Limit alcohol. Alcohol is primarily metabolized in the liver. Excess consumption can lead to build up of fatty tissue, inflammation and scarring, impeding liver function. When your liver isn’t functioning properly, it can’t filter waste from your body.
- Get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Sleep is when your body repairs itself and removes waste. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body runs out of time to perform these tasks, and toxins can build up.
- Stay well hydrated. Water helps remove waste from your body as you urinate, breathe and sweat. If you aren’t drinking enough, this process breaks down.
- Eat real food. Processed foods are full of toxins that your body just can’t get rid of before they cause damage to vital organs, including those important to detoxification. Set aside the packaged junk foods and choose fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants, which protect against damage from free radicals.
- Attend to gut health. Gut imbalances account for a lot of major health conditions. Making sure your gut has the right bacterial balance can make a big difference. Both probiotic and prebiotic foods can help.
- Keep moving. Regular exercise helps counteract inflammation which allows your body systems to function properly, including the detoxification processes. Strive to participate in moderate exercise, like brisk walking, for at least 30 minutes each day.
- Read product labels. If you’re using skin products full of chemicals, or cleaning with toxic substances, your body is absorbing toxins at an alarming rate. Try to use gentle natural substitutes whenever possible.
- Breathe! Yes, we’re always breathing…but deep, cleansing breaths are the best way to get your lymph flowing. When the lymph system is backed up, symptoms include joint pain, headaches, mental fog, mood swings, acne, frequent infection, and so much more. Getting the lymph flowing again is key in combating these uncomfortable symptoms. Breathe from your belly, not your chest, and through your nose instead of your mouth to stimulate lymph flow and banish the chemical clutter from your body.
In addition to the physical toxins circulating through your body, your mind can become incredibly cluttered as well. And this mental stress has real, physical consequences, so it’s critical to let some of it go. Some quick tips for easing the mental load include:
- Stretch. Stretching requires focus and slower movement, each of which can help clear your mind of needless clutter. Yoga is a great way to stretch – and it can help you breathe too!
- Perk yourself up with music. Whether you like to sing in the shower or crank up your favorite song and dance in the living room, music can help clear away worry and boost mood. It’s really tough to hang on to anxious thoughts when you’re belting out all the words to a great song!
- Move! Exercise is not only great for physical decluttering, but it can push aside the mental clutter as well.
- Meditate. Find a peaceful place – the beach, your bed, a chair on the porch – and actively clear your mind by focusing on your breath. A mantra can help you focus, and some people prefer guided meditations. If sitting still is tough for you, start with just five minutes
- Celebrate the good stuff. Remind yourself of the happy moments in your life. Say thank you to someone for a small act of kindness (gratitude is a particularly effective way to clear the mental clutter). Focusing on the positives goes a long way in letting the negatives go.
Winter is a perfect time for decluttering – whether that be house, body, mind or all three! And once you have, work on strategies to keep that space clear. You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel if you do.
Reviewed by Dr. Mark Menolascino, MD