You have probably heard and read a lot about detox diets and plans before. One thing about most detox plans that never got me into doing them is that they require bearing with some distasteful, uncomfortable and complicated concoction of things or routines to follow. I am sure I am not the only one either. Besides, I always feel more attracted to doing things that are simpler, lighter and daily rather than a one-off Herculean task. I like maintenance-on-the-go kind of stuff.
Detoxification, however, should be given due importance in our life as it is very often overlooked or underestimated. As an idea it goes far beyond green smoothies and proper diet. In fact detoxification is something that is important for the mind as much as it is for the body. Yes, our bodies get toxins from certain lifestyles we follow, but our mind gets as much intoxicated by stress, worries, information overload and lack of proper ways of dealing with all of this. In short, detoxification can have important positive effects on our life as a whole.
Here are some simple Mind & Body detox ideas you can carry out on the go in your daily routine:
Detoxing the Body
Water, Water, Water!!
Are you surprised that this tops the list? Water is the most important stuff we put in our bodies. First and foremost, drink more water. I know you’ve heard this before, but honestly it’s very important. Do it! I religiously drink hot water and lemon every morning and throughout the day. Water with lemon is a powerful detoxifier plus has a host of other benefits.
Make sure your water is of good quality. I prefer to drink ionised water. Drinking ionised alkaline water has an antioxidant & detoxifying effect by removing harmful free radicals from your body. You can read more about the science of alkaline water here.
Reduce Caffeine – Drink Green Tea
I have quit coffee for almost 6 months now. I feel great! For those of you who are hardcore caffeine addicts, I know it’s sounds hard but trust me it is not. I strongly believe that a good part of the caffeine effect is psychological, in the sense that we attribute credit to the effect because it is a socially accepted fact rather than a biological one. Reducing your caffeine intake and replacing it by Green tea has a lot of detox benefits because green tea is packed with natural antioxidants. Besides, Green tea can still offer a slight caffeine boost in a healthy amount.
The health benefits of exercise should be a no-brainer to most. It keeps you fit, healthy and in shape. Yet sweating it out through any type of exercise has direct detoxifying benefits too by discarding the toxins from the body. Effectively this helps reduce stress and promote better circulation and digestion. Although not all exercises are the same, any exercise on a regular basis will do the trick and this is the beauty of it. You can even dance instead, if this is what gets you moving!
This shouldn’t be hard no? Yet it is surprising how common lack of sleep or irregular sleeping is. Not getting enough sleep affects the body in many ways. You compromise the immune system, increase stress and fatigue which in turn cause toxin build up in the body. You need to have at least a sound 8 hours of sleep every night.
Eat more Organic foods & Avoid Processed Ones:
Eating any type of processed food is also something I stopped doing for quite some time now. No regrets. Processed foods such as anything that can be microwaved or eaten out of the tin or packet, most certainly contain at least one type of additive, preservative, color and many other artificial agents. These chemicals go into our digestive system and blood steam, building up as toxins.
Choose to eat more naturally and when possible opt for organic foods free from artificial stuff. This is more of a prevention to intoxicating the body rather than a detoxification. But as they say – prevention is better….
Do some Tai Qi or Qi Gong exercise
In ancient Chinese medicine, Qi (pronounced Chee) is the life force present in the human body and around us. Tai Qi or Qi Gong are simple ancient exercises meant to direct the Qi energy into balance thus promoting good health and prevent diseases amongst other things. These exercises have been scientifically proven to boost health and the immune system. Amongst other things it also helps the body to de-stress and get rid of toxins.
I do Tai Qi regularly and practice these simple Qi Gong exercises by Qi Master Lee Holden.
Getting a massage every now and then is not only pleasantly relaxing but also another way of promoting blood circulation and detoxifying the body. Apart from getting a professional massage, which is recommended, you can always do mini-massages to yourself for a few minutes during the day. When I sit and work for long hours, I try to massage my shoulders, neck and lower back every so often so as to help the circulation and relax.
Don’t forget the Super Foods
So-callled super foods are gaining a lot of importance amongst the health and fitness community – and for good reason. Super foods are foods that are very high in nutrients and antioxidants. Incorporate as many of these super foods as you can in your daily diet and they will help you not only detoxify but boost your health in a major way. Here are a few examples of super foods: Broccoli, Walnuts, Almonds, Spinach, Kale, blueberries, Salmon, Tuna and avocado. Learn more about super foods here.
Go Smooth with Smoothies
And yes of course there are the smoothies which have somehow become synonymous with detox diets. My wife and I are recently experimenting more with blending in ingredients in our smoothies that balance the right amount of taste and health benefit. Quite frankly, I am not a smoothie freak and I don’t overdo it so as not to get bored with it. There are so many recipes to try out depending on your taste and available ingredients. Here are some few ideas.
Cut Down on Simple Carbs
The most common type of food containing simple carbs are white bread, white sugar and anything that is made of white flour. Apart from having no nutritional and health value, these simple carbs end up building up as toxins in the digestive system.
Detoxing the Mind
It’s amazing when you stop and consider that we never stop breathing from our first breath to our last. It’s such an inextricable part of us and for this reason we take it so much for granted. Yes it does happen on its own but it can be directed and controlled, at least as part of a practice. Athletes, therapists. yogis and trainers know how your breathing can change your state of mind and body.
When you are in a middle of a panic, your breathing is fast and shallow while when calm and in the zone it is slower and deeper. This is why they always recommend taking deep breaths when anxious, because changing your breathing rhythm will in turn change your state of mind. There are various breathing exercises you can do to relax and detox the mind. I particularly like to do a simple breathing routine everyday which is part of an ancient Tibetan yogic practice – it is called the Nine Breaths of Purification. It’s very easy to do and it is particularly useful in clearing the mind and your subtle energies.
Police your Anxious Thoughts
Anxious thoughts are the most toxic element for the mind and eventually the body. They consume your energies, put the mind-body system out of balance and build up toxins in the body due to high levels of stress. I know that anxious thoughts are naturally bound to emerge every now and then but don’t let them overcome you. One effective method I use for dispelling anxious thoughts is catch them while they are happening and remind myself how useless and harmful worrying is. I tell myself “how is this problem going to feel like in a year’s time?” and I know that the correct answer is that it will be insignificant and a distant memory.
So you need to be vigilant and nip them in the bud when they are happening.
Allocate Time to Decompress
Many successful people working in high stress environments will tell you that one of their secrets is working hard and playing hard. Another way of putting it is that they wedge in some time on their agendas to decompress between high pressure and fast-paced moments of the day.
Even if your average day is not extremely demanding, it is still very beneficial to find moments to break and decompress from whatever you’re dealing with. When I say break and decompress I don’t mean just stop from whatever you’re doing but to occupy yourself with things that open up some space and promote joy and relaxation. Could be reading, walking, watching some video, doing some breathing exercises or whatever it is that puts you in a more relaxed state of mind.
Stop Over-consuming Information
One thing that definitely pollutes our mind is being bombarded with too much information on a daily basis – News, emails, social media, papers and other sources of information. This is another thing that is quite important to decompress from. We need to detoxify ourselves from too much information. Some people will do the exact opposite and use their breaks throughout the day to consume more information. This gradually builds more compression by not giving the mind enough space to turn down the volume and slow down the rhythm.
Do some Meditation
Together with breathing, meditation is the most powerful tool to detoxify the mind. A lot of people tell me they don’t have the time, patience or self-discipline to meditate regularly while some others say it’s hard. I say that it doesn’t need to be neither time-consuming nor hard. You can do a simple 5-minute meditation in whichever posture you like, even while walking! It’s about shifting your centre of attention from your wandering thoughts to a fixed point which could be your breath, a sensation in your body or even an object outside of you. It’s all about being mindful and centered. It’s about connecting with that aliveness within you and away from the fragmented or toxic thoughts that drain your energies.
Laughter is the best medicine some say. I’d say it’s also a good mental detoxifier. Laughter allows us to rekindle our sense of play, happiness and joy. In a short moment of laughter, you relieve physical stress and tension leaving the muscles relaxed for a good 45 minutes after. It decreases the stress hormones and increases anti-bodies thus boosting the immune system. Endorphins, the feel-good chemicals, are released in the body giving an overall sense of wellbeing and even temporarily relieving pain. Last but not least, a good laugh is also good for the heart as it increases the blood flow, helping the functioning of the blood vessels which in turn help protect the heart from cardiovascular problems.
Listen to Uplifting Music
We all know how therapeutic music can be. It can be a major mood booster yet we often forget this or use music in the wrong way. When you overall mood is on a low, listening to uplifting music can stir things to better vibes. Some people tend to listen to sad songs when they are heartbroken or feeling down. This only helps reinforce that mood. Some other people are not quite selective in their listening and play music at random from a playlist. I highly recommend to listen to music that elevates your emotional energy, particularly when feeling intoxicated with worries or depressing feelings.
Give no Resistance
Mental resistance to change, life situations or ideas can foster a lot of stress and anxiety. It makes our choices harder and puts us in a constant battle between heart and mind which consumes our energies and limits our creative freedom. When you feel in a conflicting situation, especially within yourself, try to let go and put it aside. Leave some time for the knots to untie. Offer no resistance, which means giving yourself the freedom and space to allow things to happen or put aside until a solution to the conflict shows up.
Express Yourself More
You don’t need to be an artist or a performer to express yourself. You can use any media to do this and the outcome is irrelevant. It’s the process that counts. You can doodle something no matter how banal, draw, paint, dance, sing, build something or just anything that allows you to express yourself and let out some steam. Expressing yourself allows the mind to detoxify from tension and worries by opening up a creative channel for fun, exploration and the restoration of balance.
Open up to Others
Another way of expressing yourself is through communicating with others. Having a nice good chat, discussion or opening up your feelings to someone can have extraordinary beneficial effects on the mind. First of all it allows you to divert your mind from constantly ruminating on thoughts or problems that, if too many or too heavy, may end up in confusion or a feeling of helplessness. it also helps you vent out feelings that would otherwise be kept bottled up inside thus creating emotional toxicity.
Some people find talking to others naturally therapeutic. Having a heart to heart chat with closed friends or loved ones is always to be encouraged no matter of the time, place or circumstance.