Written by Kyle Buchanan
This is the time of year where we hear the word “detox” over and over. While supporting your body’s natural detoxification processes is important, after such a tumultuous year perhaps we need a more calm, compassionate approach to ridding our body of what doesn’t serve us and embracing what actually does. In doing so, we can create a powerful Health Reset to start off the new year.
The through line of all of these points is that they seem individually quite simple, perhaps even obvious. But like chemicals in our environment, they have a compounding effect when dealt with all at once. And the best part, this can all work to our advantage! If we rid ourselves of the collective small things that weigh us down and embrace the collective small things that lift us up, it sets the stage for a hugely positive shift in our world!
So, small and steady, here we go! Let’s start with some things to release, followed by things to embrace for a refreshing reset.
Things to release and let go from last year
Burning the candle at both ends: if you’re one to wake up early to get to work, while staying up late for that last email (or latest Netflix binge), this one’s for you. Overdoing it in the day department and under doing it in the sleep department really sets the stage for hormonal imbalance, fatigue and depressed immunity. So it is best to let this practice go and put your sleep first.
Reliance on processed foods: if your go-to snack is something like chips or pastries, your go-to meals come in a single microwaveable container and/or you know the pizza delivery man by name - this is a habit to release. A heavy reliance on foods with unpronounceable ingredients, typically void of real nutrition, sets the stage for poor blood sugar management, nutrient deficiencies and, again, fatigue. So as good as they taste, they really don’t serve you, and are best left as the exception to your eating habits, not the rule.
Mindless eating: this is a tough one to let go of, because it’s a habit that so many of us have ingrained in our system. We turn to food when we’re bored, sad, happy, tired, procrastinating, worrying or watching TV - regardless if we’re hungry or not. And when we do eat, we probably don’t make it a slow mindful experience. So if this resonates with you (as it does with me), maybe make a conscious effort to let this habit go, and instead focus on listening to hunger cues and eating mindfully (more on that below).
Unnecessary liquid calories: I’m talking about the sodas, juices and high-sugar coffee drinks that secretly add up to a ton of calories and sugar, and put a drag on your system. Having the odd drink or sweet coffee is completely great, but if these indulgences have become a daily habit, maybe this is something to (respectfully) let go of.
Looking at screens right before bed: removing this behaviour actually feeds into detoxing, and here’s why: your body does a lot of restorative, detoxifying work when you sleep. And looking at screens right up until bedtime can disrupt your sleep cycle, impairing your body’s ability to recharge to its potential. Let go of this habit, and opt instead for a book in bed!
People pleasing: this is one that I’m personally trying to let go. If you are one to put everyone else’s well being above your own, for fear of letting people down at your own expense, this is something I invite you to release with me. People pleasing is exhausting, and puts a stress on your system.
Comparing yourself on social media: talk about a stressor on the system! One of my favourite quotes is “comparison is the thief of joy”. Because it really is. And social media is the fastest route to Comparison City. So I implore you, for your own happiness and health, make a conscious effort to release this habit. And FYI - this is one that will need repeated releasing, but that is no excuse not to make the effort.
Now that we have some habits that you may want to release from last year, let’s talk about some things to embrace this year that will lay the groundwork for a healthier, calmer year.
Things to embrace to thrive this year
Start your day with water: you’d be amazed by the number of clients who initially report to me that they start their day with a cup of coffee, not water. What’s awesome is that when they make the shift to having a big glass of water before the coffee, they come to me thrilled at what a difference that tiny shift made to their energy! Dehydration is so common, and water is essential when it comes to proper detoxification. So if there are zero other changes this year, make water intake the one thing you prioritize.
Make sleep a priority: for healthy detoxification, let your body sleep, and make it a precious 7-9 hours that you treasure like a rare antique. For the best sleep, shut off screens an hour before bed, and sleep in a completely dark, slightly cool room.
Eat the rainbow of veggies and fruits (in that order): the more colour you can pack on the plate, the more phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals and fibre you provide for your detoxification organs like your liver and kidneys. Rotate your veggies and fruits, try new things and experiment!
Listen to your physiology: this links into the mindless eating we’re letting go of this year. One amazing habit to get into is to listen to your physiology. What does this mean? Eat if you’re hungry, don’t eat if you’re not hungry, and stop eating when you’re full. Intuitive Eating is something we’ll be hearing more and more about this year, and it really honours this system. You know your body, so really listen to it and trust it. It is definitely something that takes practice but is well worth it!
Be mindful: mindfulness is something that pays you back quadruple what you put into it. When you make a conscious effort to be with yourself and present during your day, whether it’s meditating, breathing deeply as you do the dishes, practicing the 4-7-8 breath as you walk to work (or the home office, let’s be real here) and/or making eating a mindful, immersive experience, you feel more grounded, more centered and clear-headed.
Have dedicated offline time: want a real detox? Go off social media for a day or two and see how much better you feel. Now, more than ever, we are glued to our devices, and this not only creates strain on our eyes, but strain on our emotions and well-being. So, I highly recommend setting aside a daily amount of time, plus a day or two on the weekend, to be completely offline. Don’t check emails, don’t check socials. Connect with friends, meditate, read, walk outside - literally any other activity than going on your phone will do a LOAD of good!
Put yourself first: If you are a repeat offender when it comes to people pleasing, move this one up the list. It’s hard when you’re used to putting yourself last to put yourself first, but it’s a practice worth committing to - for your mental health, for your physiological health and for your spiritual health. Practice saying no when your instinct says so, carve out time in the day to do whatever you want to do (bathe, meditate, workout, sit and do nothing, watch your show) and make it non-negotiable. Make a dedicated effort to disappoint others over disappointing yourself. When you put yourself first, you actually create more love and space for others - so it’s a win-win. NO guilt allowed!
By letting go of the things that no longer serve you and embracing the things that do, you’ll help recharge your light so that regardless of the outside world, you can feel bright, healthy and hopeful.
Here’s to a wonderful new year, and a happy, healthy you!