We love these tips from holistic health coach Jennifer Taylor of Buckwheat To Butter for preparing, enjoying and staying sane on a cleanse. This week at The Chalkboard Mag offices a little sanity is all we need. Half our team is launching head first into Pressed Juicery’s Semi-Annual Summer Cleanse and we’re eating these tips right up. We’re no newbies to our favorite 3-day cleanse and like to think we have the whole experience down pat, but these ideas from Jennifer extend beyond the bounds of things we normally consider when cleansing. Give her ideas a little consideration, begin your pre-cleanse activities and set a date to start that juice cleanse flowing!
There are many ways to cleanse—from fasting to whole-foods-based cleanses—and they all aim to do the same thing: remove inflammatory substances and toxicity, and replenish the body with pure forms of nutrients found in natural, whole ingredients. The goal is to heal, to restore the body to its optimal health, and to let the powerful detoxification system we are born with do its work unhindered by blockages.
But what about the mind? There is good evidence that our mental state (stressed, relaxed and everything in between) has a measurable impact on the well being of the body and the state of one’s health. Sure, you can do a cleanse for a few days without changing anything else in your day to day and perhaps feel better afterwards, but, when done mindfully, cleansing provides an amazing opportunity to turn the focus inwards, to make as much space in the mind and in the emotional body as we make in the physical body.
Maybe you’re in a time of transition and need a fresh start to launch you into the next phase of your life. Maybe you’ve been holding on to something (an unhealthy relationship, a resentment, a loss, a fear) that you are ready to let go of. Perhaps you spend much of your time focused on and taking care of others and feel ready to do something loving for yourself. Some of us resist turning in, fear it even. Maybe your inner voice is asking you to stop distracting yourself so you can listen to your own intuition.
In my holistic health coaching practice, in order to help clients get the most out of a cleanse, I encourage them to look at what they might be ready to get rid of besides the junk in their diets, and why they were drawn to cleansing in the first place. Whether you’re cleansing for three days or three months, here are some tips and tools for before, during and after your cleanse to get the most out of the experience.
Before: Prepare To Detoxify
Declutter Your Space:
Before you clean your insides, clean the outside. The health of your mind is affected by your surroundings and the environmental toxins that lurk in a dirty space. Vacuum the floor, change the sheets, run an air filter in your room and create a sanctuary for the duration of your cleanse. It might be a room of your house, or it could be your favorite chair by a sunny window. Wherever it is, get the clutter out and add a vase of your favorite flowers or a photo of something that inspires or calms you.
Start A New Chapter:
Cleansing can be a bit of an emotional roller coaster at times. When you’ve been storing things in the body for a while and finally let them go you may experience a range of emotional and physical side effects. Before you start your cleanse, buy a new journal or turn to a new section in one you already have so you can jot down observations along the way and go back at the end to see your journey and your progress.
Change the Conversation:
You know that negative thing you tell yourself in your own head? You know, that defeatist interior monologue we all slip into at times? Ask yourself, is it helping you? When you tell yourself I’m fat, I’m not good enough, not smart enough, does it help you get closer to your aspirations? It’s time to change the internal conversation. What patterns of thought can you let go of while you’re cleansing? To get started, write down that negative thing you tell yourself. Directly underneath it, in larger script, turn that negative statement into a positive affirmation (I am beautiful exactly as I am, I am worthy, I am capable of anything I set my mind to). Consider making this your mantra for the duration of your cleanse. Say it aloud every day. You may not believe what you’re saying yet but trust me, you’ll get there.
During: Maximize Your Cleanse Experience
I encourage clients to block out at least one day of their cleanse to be a digital-free or minimally connected day. Most of us carry incredibly powerful (and seductive) computers around in our pockets. Remember, this cleanse is time you have carved out for yourself to get rid of the junk and replenish your system with quality nutrition. That goes for your mind as much as the rest of your body. Leave your phone at home when you’re out doing errands or headed to the gym. Turn off Instagram. Dedicate an hour or two to answer all your emails for the day or put an away message up letting people know you will respond to them tomorrow. Now that you have some undistracted time, read a book. Write a handwritten letter. Go for a walk. That project you’ve been meaning to get to for months? Go for it. Make a cup of tea, turn on some music and get your hands busy. Your brain will thank you.
When the physical or emotional side effects of cleansing come up, I encourage my clients to take a few minutes to breathe, in order to reconnect with the body. This is a great way to slow the heart rate, help deal with hunger (real or imagined), get through a mini-storm of erratic energy levels or mood swings, and refocus the mind in a gentle way. Sit or stand still with your eyes gently open or closed, and take 10 deep breathes in through the nose and out through the mouth. Think of each inhale as cleansing new energy and each exhale as a release of anything stale or negative. You can do this sitting in traffic or in line at the grocery store if you need to. Just turning the attention to the breath will bring you more deeply into the present moment, no matter where you are.
Skin is the largest organ of the body so you’d be remiss to leave it out of the detox process. Exfoliation is a great way to stimulate the circulatory and lymphatic systems with the added bonus of sloughing off any dead skin that may be clogging your pores. Use a dry brush or exfoliating gloves every other day. In addition to getting a great glow on your skin, it’s also a nice way to lovingly connect to your own body.
You May Stumble, But Don’t Fall Off The Wagon:
Let’s face it—we are not perfect creatures and at times we may stray from even the best laid path. If you give in to temptation and falter a bit during your cleanse, don’t throw your whole plan out the window. That square of chocolate or cup of coffee doesn’t mean you have to give up on the cleanse and declare it a failure. A deviation will slow the process, not bring it to a screeching halt. Remember that you are doing this for YOURSELF and no one else. Notice how you feel physically after eating “off cleanse” (bloated? headache? energy slump?) then recommit. Remind yourself what your greater goal is and remember that your next meal is an opportunity to choose differently.
After: Transition To Life Beyond The Cleanse
Keep What Works:
Your energy is even, your mind is clear, your body feels light and you have a glow about you. Give yourself permission to re-enter your “normal” life slowly. Been juicing for five days and love it? Make juice a part of your morning routine or your new afternoon pick-me-up. Feeling introspective still? Keep writing in your journal. Mindful cleansing introduces you to practices you can keep using once the cleanse is over—whether its food preparation, low-digital days or that mantra you never thought you’d use. Keep what works and let the rest of it go.
As you come out of your cleanse, think of it as a new beginning. You’ve gotten rid of the unwanted so now it’s time to ask yourself, what do you want to invite in? What calls the attention of your clearer mind? What can you accomplish with a healthy body? What can you contribute to with an inspired mind? Remember, the goal is not to obtain perfect health for the sake of perfection, the goal is to use optimal health as a vehicle for living the life you want to live—a life you love.