There’s another piece I wanted to touch upon that’s critical for helping your body to expel all the toxins: your mind!
I have shared quite some detailed information with you in the last couple of weeks on identifying and eliminating toxins from your body: the calculation is simple really: the more you take out of the bad stuff, the less sh** your body has to process and therefore you are lightening the toxic burden of what your body has to process on a daily basis and therefore giving it more capacity to function better. The less debris in your pipe, the better the water is flowing right?!
Let’s recap so we’re all on the same page:
Taking out the bad stuff (as much as you can) is the first step. Once you’ve gotten your stressor list down to the stressors you simply can’t eliminate or reduce, focus on increasing your resilience:
The next step is to further support your body expelling the toxins: exercise and infrared sauna are great ways to sweat out toxins. But also castor oil packs on the liver are awesome: I’ve talked about this in the past, so if you want to review, go back to my article here.
Now the last piece is your mind! Yes and I’m not referring to some woohoo ceremonies or anything like that here (of course if you want to, you totally can), but I’m talking about finding ways to relieve the burden on your brain.
Just consider how much your brain is stimulated only by a full day of working on a computer screen and then playing with your phone for the rest of the evening…
I wanted to share a story of one of my clients with you, let’s call her Hannah…
She is a working mom with 2 kids of 5 and 7 years old. She starts her day dragging herself out of bed, making the kids as balanced a breakfast as she can manage, and getting them ready for school and out the door on time.
Her mind is busy with anxious thoughts: What is my number one priority at work today?How will I get everything done on my to-do list? Sh**, I didn’t plan dinner - do we still have food to make something? I hope today isn’t the day there’s a COVID positive case announced at school… etc
Then she’s rushing to work, just able to grab a coffee before her first meeting and feeling the beginnings of a gurgly stomach. Her day is packed with meetings and responding to emails. She has a few minutes to grab a sandwich for lunch, then fuels on coffee and “healthy” fitness bars in the afternoon to prevent herself from falling asleep in yet another zoom meeting.
She ends her day rushing to pick up the kids, starving, on edge, and tired, and opens her fridge to assemble something for dinner, wishing she had someone who’d prepare a healthy dinner and leave it in the fridge. Then it’s off to kids’ activity drop-offs. When the kids are finally in bed, she cleans up and gets everything ready for the next day. Then she takes an hour to herself scrolling Instagram while watching some Netflix with her partner, before finally dragging herself to bed. She wakes up in the middle of the night and has trouble getting back to sleep already worrying about her alarm the next morning.
Hannah is exhausted, anxious, experiences digestive discomfort, and has trouble staying asleep at night. She’s in survival mode, and it’s deeply affecting her health and quality of life.
Does that sound familiar?
Many of us are experiencing some version of this go-go-go lifestyle, with mental and emotional stressors, paired with physical stressors like a lack of sleep, frequent traveling (at least in the past), overexercising or stressors like a poor diet and or high toxin exposure.
But how does stress affect your health? How can you feel that stress in your body?
When you are stressed out, you are in “fight or flight” mode or also called sympathetic state. For example, if you’re watching the news and feel (even a little bit of) worry or anger, your brain interprets that as a threat. It kicks off a chain reaction in your hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, releasing stress hormones like cortisol and norepinephrine, which can cause your liver to break down and release glucose in preparation for the threat, so that you have that energy boost that you need to react to a threat like jumping out of the way of a car for instance.
So you see that stress is increasing our blood sugar levels (that’s why it has an impact on weight-gain and cravings).
What your brain considers as non-essential functions for survival such as digestion, reproduction, collagen formation, and bone mineralization are shut down. These functions may be non essential for survival short-term, but they are crucial for long-term health. When they start to break down, you start experiencing unwanted symptoms:
Stress causes leaky gut: It’s well-documented that stress increases intestinal permeability. This allows pathogens, toxins, and undigested food particles to pass into your bloodstream and will trigger your immune system and lead to inflammation that you will recognize as symptoms like: headaches/migraines, skin rashes or acne, joint pain, mood disorders, digestive discomfort, hormonal imbalance, thyroid disorders, food sensitivities....
Stress leads to poor blood sugar regulation: When you are constantly stressed, your body is putting out stress hormones, like norepinephrine and cortisol, which increase your blood sugar. Increased blood sugar means more blood sugar crashes and spikes. This leads to energy slumps, sugar cravings, and middle-of-the-night wake-ups. Over time, it will affect your metabolic health, contributing to insulin resistance and heart disease.
Stress affects your digestion & nutrient absorption: When you are stressed, you don’t take the time to sit down and eat slowly in a rested state, which severely impacts digestion and absorption of nutrients. And you are not prioritizing the foundations for good health: you aren’t making time for mindfulness or exercise, getting enough sleep and don’t even think of planning out your food.
So what can you do to "detox" your mind and increase your resilience?
Schedule time without technology: how about putting your phone away and on airplane mode from 9PM every day!? Constant exposure to social media and a steady stream of texts, calls and notifications means a constant stimulation for your brain, but also living according to someone else’s agenda. When you detach from these things, you are in charge of your time.
“Detox” your home of toxins & clutter: clutter creates an undercurrent of stress, so why not make spring and autumn cleaning and de-cluttering a personal ritual.
“Detox” your friends and social media: Do you have people in your circle of friends that are leaving you with negative emotions and suck out your energy? Consider if you want to spend your time and energy with someone like that. A little easier to do this is on social media: make a point to unfollow accounts every week, removing those that provoke negative emotions and instead follow ones that inspire you, educate you or make you laugh. Consider that your brain is absorbing all this information and subconsciously programming your mind with it.
Focus on gratefulness and positive things: as much as the negativity can influence your brain, you can also program it to look on the bright side by practising gratefulness for instance!
Laugh: get together (safely) with friends, watch a comedy special. Don’t forget to have fun! Laughter and smiling increases the release of dopamine, which has numerous positive effects on our mood, sleep, and digestion.
Calm the mind: Mediation is an effective way to help calm the mind and clear mental clutter. You can soothe your nerves in as little as 10 minutes with a Yoga nidra practice or breathing exercise to calm your fight-flight-freeze response and improve your stress resilience over time. I like using the Insight timer app, but you can find tons of exercises on youtube as well.
Focus on your breathing: Breathing patterns have a profound impact on your health. Practice deep breathing in conjunction with meditation to help with cleansing the mind of toxic thoughts and to increase the body’s ability to oxygenate while eliminating carbon dioxide. Practicing slow, diaphragmatic breathing exercises to instantly stimulate the vagus nerve and activate the parasympathetic nervous system (the “calming” arm of the autonomic nervous system).
Use lavender essential oil : sprinkle on your pillow case for better sleep or inhaling deeply a few times (straight from the bottle). Lavender has clinical effects on reducing anxiety and can change gene expression and activity in the brain.
Writing it out: If you're spinning about a problem and don’t know what to do, sit down and write it out to process your thoughts.