Winter is a great time for a detox. If you find yourself socialising less and staying in more, why not take advantage of the time by tuning up your body and clearing out the junk?
While it’s true that our bodies have very effective, natural, healing abilities, it is also true that we habitually load our bodies with toxins and neglect our overall health in numerous ways. We breathe in heavily polluted air, eat unhealthy foods, drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, sit at our desks for extended periods of time, stare at computer screens, rush from place to place, work hard, play hard and sacrifice things we want to do in order to do the things we have to do. The list goes on and on. We go on and on, and in doing so we leave no room for real restoration and regeneration. To heal properly and to function at our best, we have to give ourselves a break.
For winter, I suggest detoxing in a gentle way. No putting your body through hell, no starving and no gruesome purging. Instead become aware of the harmful things you do to your body mind and soul and replace them with something healthy and nourishing.
Below are some ideas to get you started on your path to better health.
Listen to your body
Only eat when you are actually hungry. Your body gives you very definite signals when it is hungry – tummy rumbles, hunger pangs, lack of energy. Tune into your body and if you find you are eating for any reason other than hunger – step away from the fridge!
Only consume healthful foods (and substances)
A good rule to follow is to only eat foods that come directly from nature –fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains and lean meats. Your body will process these foods easily and become highly nourished. In winter we crave warm foods, so steam your veges and make your own soups. You will find these foods filling and comforting. Eliminate sugar, processed foods, wheat, dairy, alcohol, caffeine, cigarettes and other drugs. For a more intense detoxification, you could also eliminate meat.
Move your body
We were born to move – not to sit on office chairs for hours on end. Our bodies crave movement and respond positively by reducing stress hormones (cortisol) and releasing feel good hormones (endorphins). If you are chained to a desk all day take every opportunity to increase movement – go for a walk on your break and increase stretching to release built up muscle tension. Workout 3-6 times or for 150+ minutes per week. Include resistance and cardiovascular exercise.
Find the type of exercise that feels good to you so that you stay motivated and enjoy your physical activity. Remember that any movement is good! If you are getting your heart rate up, building up a sweat and feeling physically challenged – it counts as exercise. Use your imagination and do something that brings you joy.
Spend time in nature
Find freedom and tranquillity in nature. Get mesmerised by the flow of the tide as you walk along the beach, or, lie in a park and watch the clouds pass by. Leave your worries behind and tune your senses into the brilliance of the surrounding world. Feel the happiness in laughter you hear, the warmth of the sun on your skin and the energy in the air you breathe.
Sweat it out
Our skin is our largest organ. We release and absorb things through our skin, which means it has powerful detoxification qualities. If you have access to a steam room, use it as often as you can and get hot and sweaty when you exercise. You’ll notice a reduction in fluid retention and a radiant glow to your skin.
For the purpose of a detox, use yoga to release tension of the mind and body. Forget routines and sequencing and let your body tell you how it wants to move. 30 minutes of simple, intuitive, stretching will leave your body feeling light and free.
Set aside fifteen minutes in the morning and evening for an easy meditation. Sit quietly with your eyes closed and become aware of your breath. Follow it as it moves into your body – feel where it goes. And follow it as it leaves your body. If you become distracted by thoughts, release them by bringing your mind back to the breath. The aim of meditation is stillness of the mind. Focusing on your breath helps stop your thoughts running wild, by giving it a constant point to come back to. The answers to your questions are found in the stillness and not in your thoughts.
Keep warm with natural heat as much as you can. Cosy up by an open fire-place or take a peaceful soak in the tub. Create a warm ambiance throughout your home with dim lights and aromatic candles. Enjoy the cosy pleasures of winter while you can.
Spend time with friends
People have a profound effect on the way we feel, so spend time with people who up-lift you. People who make you laugh and feel good about yourself. Avoid anyone who stirs up tension within.
Do what you love
Get lost doing ‘that thing’ that you love. Singing, dancing, climbing trees – whatever it is -go and do it. Too often we push aside the things we most want to do so we have time to do the things we feel we have to do. If you do nothing else, do this one thing. Doing the thing you love is where you find joy and peace. It’s where you find yourself.
Originally published in Madame Sydney