When you think about cleansing and detoxing, you might only think about what to eat, drink or supplement to clear out unwanted toxic build up in your body. It turns out some of the most dangerous residual toxic materials are related to excessive stress hormones that can accumulate in your body. Excessive stress hormones negatively impact sleep, mood, energy and overall wellness by disrupting all the systems of your body.
While detoxing through wellness practices, nutritional additions or even supplements can help get the process started, there are other practices you can incorporate that will help aid in restoring balance from excessive toxic emotional residue due to stress, anxiety, grief, anger, resentment, overwhelm, fear, contempt and other emotional build up that can settle into your being and cause significant tension and discomfort internally.
Have you ever felt as though you have been emotionally “slimed?” Where you feel like you just can’t shake or rid yourself a particular emotion and the triggering thoughts associated with those emotions? If so, you are not alone! Emotions can be difficult to cope with, feel and release. These three tools below can help to detox the “slimy” internal residue of uncomfortable emotions and stress. A big part of releasing toxic emotional build-up in the body is acknowledging it and having a method to release. These three tools are helpful as they can offer an opportunity to create a space to explore the emotions and let them go.
Writing in a journal can act as a container for your thoughts, feelings and emotions. When you hold on to stressful thoughts and feelings, you keep your mind and body in a state of fight or flight—this is not healthy or helpful. Journaling has been proven to help reduce stress hormones, to improve the quality of your life and create a healthier perspective on emotions and life in general.
The next time you just can’t seem to “let-go” of an uncomfortable emotion or stressor, dust off an old journal or notebook—or even open up a document on your computer—and just start writing. If you are not sure where to begin, start with the emotion, the stressor and write-write-write. See how it feels to get it out, to purge these thoughts and feelings, close the journal and move forward. Think of journaling as a detoxing process for your mind, which will consequently help to clear your body of built up tension and stress.
2. Art Making
Creativity is a major component to living a full life. Art making by its nature is healing and life enhancing. Creating a mandala is similar to journaling. To create a mandala, draw a circle on a piece of paper and then use any art materials such as colored pencils, markers, oil pastels or even crayons to release your feelings onto the page. The mandala (circle) acts as a guide, not a barrier. Begin by selecting a color that represents your internal emotions or stress and use line, shape color and form to let it out! You can change colors throughout, just begin with one that represents the emotions you are desiring to release.
Mandalas are one of my favorites because the circle acts as a balancing form on the page, however, even scribbling, doodling or doing soothing painting with water colors can have the same impact. Try not to focus on the product (what your picture looks like!. This is not relevant to the desired outcome: releasing uncomfortable stress and emotions! Art making acts as an emotional detox by letting it flow through you, out and away from you. Art making can be more freeing as you are not limited by words. The next time you are feeling stuck in pattern of holding onto a negative feeling, try creating with art materials and notice how it impacts your mood state.
Your breath offers a direct passageway to greater health in mind, body, and spirit. You will breathe whether you think about it or not, it is a marker of being alive. However, you can bring your breath into your conscious awareness and access the healing benefits through specific actions of your breath.
When you breathe diaphragmatically you engage the parasympathetic nervous system, the part of the nervous system that calms you down. Parasympathetic nervous system response is referred to as “rest and digest mode.” The other function of the nervous system is the sympathetic nervous system response which is referred to as “fight or flight mode.” When you are harboring stress, uncomfortable emotions, or thoughts that are triggering those emotions, even subconsciously, you expose yourself to the toxic residue of these emotions. Emotions themselves are not good or bad, they are valuable information about our experience of our lives. However, if you hold onto emotions they can become a negative experience inside and out, causing significant discomfort that gets shoved into your physical body and creates toxicity.
Breathing helps to calm the nervous system and offers more clarity of thought. This can open you to deeper awareness of why the emotion is there, and how it came to be stuck or stagnant as you may originally not have been open or comfortable with receiving the message it was there to offer you. To begin, place one hand on your abdomen and the other hand on your chest. Then, direct your breath in through your nose and expand your abdomen as you inhale slowly. Then, breathe out through your nose drawing your navel in towards your spine slowly.
Continue with this pattern, breathing slowly and deeply and notice the impact on how you feel. Try not force it, just assure that your abdomen is expanding with your inhale, not your chest. You can pair this diaphragmatic breathing with a phrase, such as “let go”—saying “let” in your mind as you inhale and “go” in your mind as you exhale. This helps to free stuck emotional residue and can significantly reduce your stress. This practice also gives your mind a point of focus making it less likely that it will wander off to any other stressful or distressing thoughts.
Emotions are a part of life. Learning to experience, manage and release them is a tremendously valuable part of life. The paradox is often that if you avoid the discomfort you perpetuate its existence. If you allow yourself to feel your emotions, be present with them and make a decision about how to respond in the moment, you offer yourself to feel it as it’s related to the triggering circumstances—versus feeling all of the toxic build up and residue from long-term avoidance and fear.
Try integrating one or more of these tools and notice the impact it has on your life, your body, and your self-awareness. When you free yourself of the discomfort of holding onto emotions that are not needed for your present moment experience, you open yourself to the possibility of offering a deeper space of peace and contentment within.