The warm months after a long winter mean big changes for your mind and body. Help your body detoxify naturally with these steps, and you can experience better sleep, healthy digestion, and a healthier state of mind. A detox is the process of removing built-up toxins, unhealthy particles, and negative energy from the body. Although some health gurus and approaches promote extreme measures, a healthy detox strategy can be followed with some simple changes in your diet and schedule. These changes can be done on your own time, and adapted easily to your lifestyle and schedule. Within just one week, you can experience benefits that will clear the way to an energetic you!
Step 1: Acknowledge your Daily Schedule
With today’s busy schedules, a detox may seem impossible. The best approach is to incorporate the steps into your day. Over planning, however, will only lead to frustration, so your focus instead should be on simple strategies that you can adapt to and maintain. Think about the health-giving benefits of your food choices, the sense of well-being after exercise or stretching, and the overall satisfaction of a deep night’s sleep. These are all benefits reaped from the rewards of your daily contribution to your detox, and can be enough to keep you motivated to stay on track! Remember, you are not on a diet. You are ‘flushing’ negative energy and toxins that have been slowing you down for some time. Renewal, rejuvenation, and a fresh perspective are all results of even the smallest efforts.
Step 2: Understand your Energy Flow
Most diets today encourage a toxic body because of the toll they take on the body’s digestive system. The more ‘work’ it takes to digest and process different types of foods, the less energy is available for more important processes such as growth, fresh energy for your mind, and full relaxation and rest. Processed foods are not natural resources for your body; although they may taste good, they are not broken down effectively and often result in dips in energy levels, as well as encouraging byproducts in the body that lead to disease.
By diverting your daily energy through your detox process, you enable the body to self-regulate. It begins to move towards an abundance of resources that strengthen and even repair any damage. This is often why people participate in meditation, yoga, or other deep breathing exercises as oxygen can freely move through your entire system during this time. The best time of day to perform these exercises is up to you; some prefer a morning refresher to start the day, while others use time before bed to reap the rewards of stretching and meditation. If you can incorporate just twenty to thirty minutes each day during your detox, you will encourage the flow of fresh air and oxygen throughout your system.
Step 3: Diet & Exercise
It is not necessary to go on a ‘crash’ diet, or even any diet at all; during a detox, a diet is simply what you eat during the day. To start your detox safely and naturally, begin each day with fresh water-based fruit. Pears, apples, or berries are the best choices, as these are easiest to digest and bring the most antioxidant benefits on an empty stomach. The best choice is up to you depending on your taste, but do choose something that you can look forward to for the next week or two.
If you exercise in the morning, you may participate in your favorite exercise routine after the fruit. The natural sugar energy will give you just enough to get through the workout and encourage your muscles to use any extra fat for energy. However, be sure not to do anything longer than 45-60 minutes without refueling with juice or a high protein snack. Your exercise of choice during the detoxification process should be enjoyable and not too taxing on your body overall, so choose something that you can maintain with consistency over 1-2 weeks.
Do not consume caffeine first thing in the morning, the idea is to let your body ‘jump-start’ naturally without help for the hours between 6 a.m. to noon. Your metabolism is strongest between the hours of noon and 3 p.m.; this means that anything you can do to encourage a higher metabolism before noon will help your body regulate and begin detoxifying!
A very nourishing post-exercise meal is a simple bowl of oatmeal. Refrain from the instant oatmeal loaded with sugar, and instead opt for traditional oatmeal that needs to be cooked. Remember, the goal during the detoxification process is to eat as much natural food and move away from excess sugar. If you need to sweeten the oatmeal, choose natural sugars or a small spoon of honey. When you participate in the detox process, you’ll soon realize your sugar-dependency greatly decreases. Being consistent will help you get through each day without any major withdrawal symptoms.
During a detox, caffeine is not eliminated, but you should make some wise choices. Green tea is an excellent substitute for coffee, and although a strange flavor for some, it is now widely available with many flavorings and variations; try Green Tea with Ginger, Lemon, Raspberry, and even Ginseng. Whatever your choice may be, rest assured that this caffeine is much gentler on your system while still providing the benefit of the alertness coming from caffeine. Sip this throughout the day, but do stop before 3-4 p.m. to make sure you get a good night’s rest. This varies per person, depending on how much caffeine you were consuming before. Do be sure to drink at least 5-8 glasses of fresh water per day, but keep in mind that overloading is not necessary, or beneficial to your system.
Lunch and dinner choices should be full of vegetables (mostly greens), lighter meats such as turkey or chicken, tofu and beans if you are vegetarian, and brown rice if possible. All of these food groups are excellent sources of antioxidants, natural energy, and do not tax the body. Avoid excess condiments and spices, and opt instead for natural flavoring choices and limited salt. Believe it or not, it is advisable not to drink water with your meal if possible; this often prevents optimal digestion. Instead, drink it either before, or after meal time. By spacing your meals to 3-5 medium-sized portions throughout the day, you will release as much energy as possible to the detoxification process, without feeling overly hungry or overly full. This may be difficult to adjust to at first, but after a few days you will feel much more satisfied and definitely more energetic!
Step 4: A Rejuvenating Shower
The benefits of a rejuvenating shower are countless; you can incorporate some simple techniques to your daily schedule at home! To detoxify your skin, one of your body’s largest organs, exfoliation and fresh moisture will help remove dull skin cells. Take a cool shower using an exfoliating scrub, a sisal brush, or exfoliating mitt to rub off dead skin. Next, increase the heat in the shower or bath, and use a moisturizing shower gel. To increase circulation and really refresh your body, alternate the hot and cold on your shower and you will feel restored and renewed almost instantly! Use a body butter or intensive lotion to replenish the moisture on your skin and you will see and feel the difference.
Step 5: Encourage Deep Sleep
Sleep deprivation causes unnecessary stress on the body, and disables the system from restoring itself from the stressors of the day. To encourage and promote deep sleep, there are some guidelines that can help to replenish energy naturally. During this time, it is not advisable to use alcohol or sleeping pills to encourage sleep; both of these substances not only ‘toxify’ the system, but they do not let your brain move into the Delta stage of sleep, which is essential. When you do get natural sleep, you will wake up restored, not lethargic; you will notice you have more energy during the day, and will likely fall asleep naturally in the future when you are truly tired.
One traditional way is by using lavender or other essential oil on your pillow. Today, lavender sprays, essential oil pads, and even simple oils dabbed on a napkin under your pillow are easy ways to encourage sleep. Sipping a chamomile tea before bed is helpful for some, but it is not for everyone. A warm glass of soy milk is also helpful. The important thing is to try different strategies and see what works best for you. You should not eat anything too filling approximately 2-3 hours before bedtime, as this can prevent you from falling asleep.
Progressive relaxation is also a technique that can be very beneficial. Close your eyes and visualize each muscle in your body relaxing on a count of five. As you move through each muscle, breathe deeply and consciously slow down your breath. After some practice and focus, you can feel your body relaxing naturally and truly enjoy a peaceful night’s rest.
Review the above steps and see how and when will be the best time for you to begin a detox for the season. After a few trials, you will learn the best techniques that work for you, and learn how to manage a detox no matter the time of year. Remember, your state of mind about the process is almost half the work, so be patient and always look forward to the benefits!