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5 Tips To Do An Emotional Detox

There is so much talk of spring cleaning your diet as the temperatures rise and we come out of a long winter (at least in Toronto, Canada) of hibernation. B
Mar 30, 2011 | Joy McCarthy

There is so much talk of spring cleaning your diet as the temperatures rise and we come out of a long winter of hibernation (at least in Toronto, Canada). But what about our emotions? Do you ever do an emotional detox and spring clean your mind? If you haven't, then I encourage you to do so, especially if you want to achieve your best health ever.

It's not only the holistic practitioners that recognize the importance of a healthy mind. Conventional western medicine affirms that health and disease are not only related to the chemical condition of the cells, but also a person's state of mind.

Research has shown that the cells that carry emotions to the brain are also present in the immune system and impact the nervous and endocrine system.

Therefore, what we think and feel has a profound impact on our health. This is why a positive mental attitude is especially important. However, suppressing emotions and choosing positive thoughts instead of dealing with the negative thoughts and emotions is as bad as eating a whole bag of chips with a tub of ice cream.

Admittedly, I have been very guilty of this myself – suppressing emotions and putting on a happy face most of the time. I grew up in a positive, supportive, loving environment. Quite honestly, I didn't really have much "crap" to deal with - my parents were and still are happily married, my mom was a big believer in healthy eating and until my early 20's I didn't have any major stressors in my life.


I'm not saying it all went downhill but life brings you interesting challenges along the way and it wasn't until the past little while that I've started to embrace other emotions and it has brought me much clarity, an emotional detox of sorts.

This emotional detox started for me when I was in Mexico on a wellness retreat. Every evening, we had a yin yoga practice. It was always the hip openers that got to me (side note: the hips store a lot of emotional baggage). I found myself on more than one occasion with constant tears streaming down my cheeks.

I was unsure where it was all coming from. I mean, my friends didn't name me joyous because I cry all the time!

This is when I realized that I really needed to do an emotional detox (and I was in the midst of it and it was totally okay). I was honouring those negative emotions. I was releasing the need to control my thoughts. When you do this, it will help you let go and heal from many things: unhappy childhood experiences, difficult relationships, pain, regret, guilt etc.

Now I'm not saying a good cry once in a while is going to solve all your problems, but what I am saying is that to stop putting on a brave face and tell everyone you are always happy when maybe you are not.

Tears actually release stress hormones and manganese (both of which are found in high amounts in the brains of depressed people, therefore, you NEED to cry once in a while).

How exactly do you spring clean your mind and do an emotional detox? I have 5 tips and strategies below!

5 Tips To Do An Emotional Detox:

1. Write for 7 Days

Write an entire page worth of a constant stream of consciousness. Do not lift your pen, keep writing whatever thoughts come to mind for an entire page. This is different than a diary. Just let go and let the emotions flow through your heart and mind, right onto your paper.

2. Do yoga

Yoga is soul food for the mind and the spirit. I started my first yoga practice about 13 years ago, but it's really only been the last 1.5 years the I've been committed to my practice. It has not only changed my body, but there has been a profound effect in how I deal with my emotions.

3. Write a letter to release feelings of anger and frustration

You don't have to worry about sugar-coating anything, because you are not actually going to send it to anybody. This is incredibly freeing.

4. Stop eating your emotions and start confronting them

When you feel down in the dumps, instead of drinking alcohol, stuffing it down with comfort food, watching a movie to get your mind off it, look at it in the face. How? Take a bath, meditate, go for a quiet walk. Allow the feelings to manifest and fully embrace them. Cry, yell, scream... just allow whatever needs to happen, happen.

5. Write down an affirmation

When going through an emotional detox, write down an affirmation that resonates with you and read it before bed or first thing in the morning. This is mine:

"I have the courage to release toxic emotions in a positive and constructive manner. I possess the clarity of vision to renew and plan my future aspirations, so enabling me to move forward on life's journey".

But yours can be whatever you want it to be based upon what resonates with you :) 

I'm curious to hear how this emotional detox goes for you. Be sure to share with me in the comments below!

Angie   •   March 30, 2011

What a great post, Joy. I first saw you on Wylde on Health last December and been reading your blog ever since. Love how you focus on all facets of a balanced lifestyle.

Joy McCarthy   •   March 30, 2011

VeggieGirl   •   March 30, 2011

Excellent tips! Thankfully lately, I've been able to stay positive and haven't needed an emotional detox :)


Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday   •   March 30, 2011

How about getting in touch with nature? I think talking a walk through a park or gardening or even doing yard work can be really soothing.


Heidi @ Food Doodles   •   March 30, 2011

What good timing you have Joy :D I really need to work on this. I'm kind of in the same situation as you. I didn't have that much to deal with growing up, happy family life and all that, but somehow even when something was wrong I always put on a happy face and just covered it up. Now I look back and see all these things that still bother me that I never dealt with. I had no idea idea about crying! That is amazing. Sometimes I just feel like I have to cry. I always thought it was weird and bit ridiculous... Maybe that's the reason why :)


Ange @ Hol:Fit   •   March 30, 2011

LOVE this post - thank you sweets! I too, have always been one that was all to quick to brush myself off and put on a brave face and over time it has caused me to often be numb to my emotions. Interesting that our tears actually have a biologically healing've inspired me to slow it down this week I'll be trying out a few of your tips - especially the 7 days of writing. xoxo


Mike McCarthy   •   March 30, 2011

HI Joy: I love your detox. I am sending it and your site to several of my clients and colleagues. You are a joy and very go girl! Love, Dad


Michael Ketchum   •   March 30, 2011

Joy, I love reading your Blogs, so true and so from the heart! You are a wise brave soul. I am reading the book "Anger" by Thich Nhat Hanh and he has lots of great ideas about dealing with anger and other emotions. He speaks about the seeds we sew and how we need to be fully aware of what we are sewing. Sage advice. You are a real JOY!


Aloysia Rodrigues   •   March 30, 2011

Great Article Joy!!! Thanks for sharing excellent tips :) Crying is all I do all the time.. I should try writing or taking a walk... Thanks again for wonderful post.


Aminah   •   March 30, 2011

Thank you for writing this :)


Candice   •   March 31, 2011

Awesome post Joy! Thanks for sharing your personal experience. :) I also find Yin yoga to be VERY emotionally cleansing!! And it's true; I've tried to stuff my feelings and put on a happy face as well but the stuffed feelings would manifest in other ways. (tired, despondent, etc) Better to be up front with them, it is truly is detoxifying! <3


Richelle   •   March 31, 2011

I love these tips, thanks so much for posting them. They came at a perfect time for me. I definitely need to do an emotional detox.


Feeling under the weather | Finding my holistic self   •   March 31, 2011

[...] been; -sleeping lot’s -reading “Crazy Sexy Diet” by Kris Carr -trying to do some emotional detoxing -icing my ankle 3 times a [...]


Eva Tuersley   •   April 1, 2011

love your colours. a feast for the eyes


sasha@ blyssful health   •   April 1, 2011

Great post. I am reading or shall I say picked up The 21 Day Consciousness Cleanse. by Debbie Ford. I still have to start reading it. I just started yoga and find your comment about the hips very interesting. I just posted on my site about a computer was by accident though but still was great to not use it for a while. Thanks for sharing.


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[...] be.  And lastly, I can safely say there are fellow nutritionistas who believe in the power of letting your emotions – whatever they may be – happen.  All that to tell you: feel free to not be happy sometimes.  Feel free to express what you need [...]


rahbe   •   May 15, 2013

Hi Joy, I woke up this morning, and asked God to help me feel good again. I heard him say to me "emotional detox" I ve never heard of such a thing. So I picked up my phone and searched it, and found your blog. Awesome!!! Thanks!!!

Joy McCarthy   •   May 15, 2013
Anita   •   May 15, 2013

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