The life we live can, in fact, become stressful, and toxic. Negative thinking, poor lifestyle choices, consuming media, overwork, and negative friendships can significantly decrease happiness and increase stress. Here, we explore 14 substantive, life-changing adjustments to detox your life, and help you declutter your mind, refocus and re-energize your life. Taking the time to improve your sense of wellbeing through a life detox plan can work wonders for your mind, body, and soul.
It was 2004, I had been sick off and on for three years. It seemed as if my immune system was so compromised that if there was a bug of any kind in the room, I would get it. I had been to the doctor numerous times, and was always told, “This is a virus, there is nothing we can do for you. Go home and rest,” Or, “we’re not sure what is wrong, the tests are inconclusive, go home and rest.”
It ended up that I got “walking pneumonia”. I was supposed to check into the hospital straight away, but I talked the doctor into allowing me to take bed rest at home rather than go to the hospital so I could still do chores and look after my daughter. With my health seriously in jeopardy, I saw that if I continued, I would be no good to anyone, and I needed to slow down and make some major changes in my life. I guess it was a wakeup call of sorts.
My lifestyle and mindset at the time wouldn’t allow for a complete life detox in one swipe, I added and subtract things over time, experimenting as I went along so I could figure out what worked and what didn’t. Even though I’ve reduced my stress and am living a pretty darn good life, I’m still experimenting and learning more about what works for me.
Over time, I have found adjustments and changes have made a huge difference in the quality of my life and can help detox your life too. I encourage you to try these things and make adjustments until you find the perfect mix for your life.
How to cleanse your mind:
Learning to say no. Before I started on my life detox, I said “yes” a lot. I over accommodated and overextended myself by volunteering and getting involved with all sorts of projects and serving on volunteer boards.
I spent huge amounts of time working on projects for other people. I liked the feeling of being needed and thought that if I offered many of my services for free a potential client would see how great I was to work with and hire me. (I can’t recall a time that actually worked though).
I didn’t realize that every minute I worked on someone else’s agenda meant that I was taking time away from my own projects and priorities. An occasional favor, I have no problem with, but this was chronic, and I needed to put an end to it.
At first, when I started saying no, my life felt empty. No one was calling, and I had so much less going on. But when I turned to my own projects and I found I was enjoying my work, the feeling of productivity, having time to focus on doing a good job, and best of all, I began making money. I also discovered I had several friendships that were predicated on my providing free services and advice. Saying no helped eliminate one-way relationships.
Carving out time for myself. I don’t know where we got the idea that carving out a little time for ourselves was a bad thing. When my therapist first suggested it, I couldn’t figure out where I’d get the time for myself and once I managed to find 20 minutes to myself, I didn’t know what to do with it!
I started by keeping a diary tracking how I spent my time. I began to take note of how I could plan more efficiently, and where I could I created an all in one to do, time tracker, and menu planner. I started to block my time and become more efficient, and I began to schedule alone time for meditation and inspiration, as well as outings that soothed my soul.
I found getting up early allowed me to create a morning routine that started my day on a better foot and taking note of pocket time, like the 30 minutes I spent waiting for my daughter during ballet class or time between meetings gave me extra time for meditation or another activity that added value to my life. For example, I started going to the library while my daughter was in ballet class. Taking time for myself and learning how I spent my time helped me declutter my mind, refocus and re-energize.
Taking a daily walk. Taking care of our body, mind, and soul includes some regular daily form of exercise. I found it easiest to make time for a daily 20-minute walk (some of you may prefer running or another physical activity) the walk morphed into learning to ice skate, which morphed into dance lessons, yoga, and creating a weight-bearing routine, all of which immeasurably enriched my life. I made new friends, enjoyed nature, and learning new skills. When I can’t get to the rink, I am out walking. Walking daily can be a form of meditation, too. I have found great inner peace walking on a trail near our home. Exercise is a great way to detox your life.
Speeding time outdoors. Since moving to Florida many years ago, you may be surprised to know I’ve been primarily an “indoor” person. I landed a series of corporate jobs and spent most of my time working on my career, or going to the gym (I’m not a huge beach girl). Occasionally on a stray Saturday I’d go to a park and walk, but generally didn’t like being outside. It’s often just plain too hot!
When Brooke was little, I spent much more time outside and came to really love nature walks at the park…still not much of a beach girl. I’ve found I really love nature; it’s become a non-negotiable in my life. Each day, (even if it’s sprinkling a bit) we will go to a nearby nature trail. And, occasionally to the beach, but mostly on the trail. There is something so grounding and special about the natural world. It’s amazing how nature has a way of cleansing the mind and soothing the mind, body, and spirit.
Creating life-affirming habits. As I have worked through my life detox, one lesson stands out; a friend suggested I try a house cleaning regimen. It was a free website that provided a housekeeping routine built on creating daily habits. When I saw how brilliantly it worked, I began creating habits and routines for the most important things in my life. If you can create a simple routine and make it into a habit, well, it’s really golden.
I’ve built a simple morning routine, housekeeping, and workout routines. I am currently in the process of creating a couple of simple routines for my blog business. Getting healthy habits on autopilot is definitely a good thing.
When we have our basic chores out of the way and have them on autopilot, it’s amazing how it declutters our minds and helps us refocus.
Eating healthy foods I’ve written a lot about my weight loss journey, (you can read more here and here). Finding a diet with whole foods you enjoy is really a great thing, and probably easier said than done for some. I’ve been on a low carb diet for the past twelve years which has allowed me to go through menopause without weight gain and maintain good health. A healthy diet goes a long way toward detoxing your life and body.
When I started on my low carb journey, I went through the “approved” foods list, noting the foods I loved and built recipes and a meal plan around them. I’d tried diets with odd and unpleasant foods—do you remember rice cakes? When I made the decision to lose weight “for once and for all” I didn’t want my diet to consist of foods I knew I wouldn’t eat for the long haul. Through the years, I’ve curated a diet of healthy foods I love.
I’ve learned to listen to my body and watch how it responds to foods. Foods that give me brain fog, make me bloated, gassy, sick to my stomach or make my skin break out, have to be removed from the list. It seems pretty obvious, right? But for years, I ate wheat, even though I have a wheat allergy, and didn’t notice I was often bloated after consuming dairy. As I’ve cleaned up my diet, how I react to foods has become very clear. Eating a healthy diet makes a huge difference as to how we deal with stress, hormonal changes, and other issues.
Self-care routines that include eating well and soothing daily rituals go a long way toward managing stress. A healthy eating plan is so important when creating a plan to detox your life.
Discontinuing negative interactions with others: Do you have frenemies? Do you have people in your life who trigger you? Do you have friendships built around gossip and negativity? We all have these types of relationships at one time or another. It’s time to take a look at what’s going on with these interactions and figure out if there is anything salvageable in the relationship or whether it’s time to let it go.
There was a point in my life where I was surrounded by frenemies and gossip. I decided to see what would happen if I didn’t join in the gossip or redirected the conversation to something positive. When I tried to have healthier interactions, some of the relationships drifted away. I’ve written several posts about navigating relationships (here).
True friends bring joy into our lives and we to theirs. While we all go through difficult times, the overall experience we have with others should be positive and healthy but it starts with your being positive in your interactions. When I changed the way I interact with others to be positive and looked for the same in others, I attracted more positive relationships. Clearing out negativity is so important when it comes to detoxing your life.
Recognizing the value of your time. We can always make more money, but we can never get back lost time. We never know when our time is up, and rarely think about what we are doing with our time, until it’s slipped past, right before our eyes. The older I get, the more I value quality time. For me, that means spending time doing things that matter, spending time with loved ones, and enjoying nature and beauty. Your list may be different, and I urge you to think about it if you haven’t already.
Discontinuing low-value activities when I started valuing my time, and seeking positive and productive activities, I began to see that some of the music I listened to and the television shows I watched weren’t emotionally healthy. For example, I no longer watch the news. Instead, I read a news roundup every day or so. I get the gist of what is going on but don’t invest time in it. I avoid concerning myself with things I can’t control.
I don’t watch shows that contain violence, gossip, or drama either. Letting go of some of these shows was hard, and I must confess, I relapse sometimes. But reveling in the misfortune of others, watching people being unkind to one another or worse, watching violence adds nothing of value to our lives. Eliminating negativity goes a long way in a life detox program.
In addition, I’ve spent years pouring time into helping friends only for them to continue making poor choices and wanting more help from me. It was a huge time and energy suck. When I learned to focus on keeping my own life on a healthy track I didn’t really have time for the shenanigans of others.
During all that time, I could have been working on something I could “control” specifically, making better choices in my own life.
Cutting back on “doing” Falling into the “doing” trap is easy, it kind of goes hand in hand with not saying “no” to others, but the “doing” trap doesn’t always involve others. Years ago, I had been hired to bring a department into “compliance”. Two auditors had reviewed the activities of the department and found them deficient, and they were at risk of losing large grants. Day one, I made a list of action items that I attacked and within a few months, the key issues had been addressed, and we were on to secondary issues. When I left, I still had a three-page list of things that “needed” to be done, and there would always be more to do. It was then I realized that not everything “needs” to be done, Now I go for critical tasks and my main priorities. Because I view my time as valuable, I am very clear about my priorities and focus on them. One of my priories relates to self-care and quality time, so filling every minute of every day with activity and worrying about minor details.
Cutting back or discontinuing social media. I’ve never been a huge fan of Social Media, but I have enjoyed the friendships I’ve made and sharing my posts. It’s a part of my job, and I spend about an hour a day on social media with very specific goals and activities. Most of my friends have found that cutting back or discontinuing social media for a time can really help detox your life.
I’ve been mindful to steer clear of politics and drama, but occasionally drama comes my way, unfortunately. Recently, my daughter removed all of her social media. When I asked her why, she explained that many of her friends had taken stands politically, and were pressuring others to join their cause. If she didn’t join in, she was told she was a part of the “problem”. Her “friends” began sharing images that disturbed my daughter, and she’d had enough.
Social media was originally created to bring friends together, but, depending on your friends, it can easily become a sad and toxic place. If social media is not your happy place, or if you are spending more than an hour on it per day and it’s not a part of your job, you might consider limiting your time or going on a break for a while. Trust me, it will be there if or when you come back. Go out for a walk, have a picnic, spend time on a hobby.
Take a spiritual journey. As I began being more intentional about my life, friends, and the activities I participate in, I began to have a deep yearning to be more connected spiritually. Spending more time in the spiritual realm added a depth and richness to my life I can’t explain. But it’s definitely worth exploring more deeply, especially as we head into our middle years.
I’ve added prayer, inspirational reading, and meditation to my daily routine, first thing in the morning and sometimes in the afternoon, as well. When times are difficult and uncertain, we often turn to our spirituality, but forget to continue the practice when things are going well. That’s normal, and I’ve done that most of my life. Spirituality is such an important aspect when you want to detox your life.
As I’ve gotten older, it has become an activity I nurture and cultivate daily. My intuition has sharpened, I am more measured in my responses, less judgmental, and critical. Through the development of my spiritual nature, my inner world is a softer place for me to land.
Making time to read, do crafts, or just sit Lately, I’ve realized that I need to take time away from my work to do things completely unrelated to my work. Crafting, reading and sometimes just sitting and looking out the window creates much needed balance in our lives.
Getting Help, If You Need It. I have been overwhelmed along the way, and one of the best investments I’ve ever made was seeking therapy when I needed it. Yes, therapy can be expensive, but investing in your mental health creates long-term benefits. Priorities become more clear, strategies for coping help in generating productivity and a deepened appreciation for life. While it was a stretch financially, I have never regretted spending time and money on my mental and emotional health.
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