Just as a physical cleanse can help to digest food better, an emotional cleanse can help digest emotional experiences. According to Sherianna Boyle, a psychology professor and author, an emotional detox means to clear negative emotions that have stagnated and gotten stuck, leaving you free to be able to process and experience all of your emotions in a healthy way. Emotions can get stuck due to trauma, unhealthy attachments, or resistance to certain emotions. “Stuck” emotions are a result of trauma, resistance to certain emotions, or unhealthy attachments.
Holding on to negative emotions (anger, sadness, frustration, fear, anxiety, jealousy, low self-esteem) can sometimes be an even greater cause of stress, and eventually chronic disease. Research shows that the emotions we feel can also impact and change the biology of our cells. According to Dr. Candace Pert, internationally recognized neuroscientist and pharmacologist, our cells are affected by both positive and negative emotions. Good emotions like joy, love, kindness, compassion, empathy, and happiness, give way to new (healthy) cell growth. Negative emotions do exactly the opposite; they send signals to our cells that interrupt normal cell regeneration. Some signals our body sends us that our emotional scale is out of balance (out of homeostasis) are hair loss, headaches, upset stomachs, aches and pains, skin rashes, heart palpitations, and anxiety attacks.
So what are some ways to detox your emotional body?
1. Clear Space
Make space so that we can more clearly work with our emotions. An important part of this step is to notice what triggers you, and where you become especially reactive in your life. Once you notice what sets off your sympathetic nervous system, (fight or flight feeling), you can begin to find ways to calm yourself down. Stimulate your vagus nerve through exercise, yoga, prayer, hugging, or laughter.
2. Look Inward
Boyle describes the difference between self-reflection and self-awareness, with self-reflection being a mental process, and self-awareness being a sensory process. In her book titled, Emotional Detox, she describes a space between the two as an important place to be aware of. “The looking inward process,” she writes, “is about bridging the gap, standing up to your inner bully (ego), and letting yourself feel the quiver while allowing yourself to receive the blessing of your raw emotions.” The way to create a bridge between the two is to create a healthy dialogue with your body, noticing the sensations of your body as feedback to respectful self-inquiry.
3. Dig Deep
Find ways that best resonates with you. Some ideas are to visit a counselor, share your feelings with a friend/family member you trust, life coach, advisor of faith, create a circle of people around you for support with whom you can safely share your thoughts/feelings with. Find a place of solitude where you can relax or meditate. Read, inquire, and delve into anything spiritual which may help you see the bigger picture of your circumstances.