The 6-Step Cleanse for an Emotional Detox

Start 2020 the right way.

cleanse your emotions get out in nature
Credit: image via iStock/vikialis

Most diets don’t work because they focus on loss. Diets encourage you to slim down, shed pounds, and banish the old you. This mindset couldn’t be further from what your soul came here to do, which is why I call the C.L.E.A.N.S.E. process an emotional detox, not an emotional diet.

To evolve in mind, body, and spirit, your soul needs to be nourished well, just like your body. Ideally, foods that are closest to their most natural state are best, and the same goes for emotions.

When it comes to soul development there are no quick fixes; growth comes from connection, respect, and creativity. Foods high in nutrition have a life force (e.g., greens), while ones that are over-processed (just like our emotions) don’t.

Before the detox, I would inhale cheese—loved it. My stomach would grunt and groan after, yet I would just ignore it. I allowed my taste buds to override my bodily signals. Incorporating the C.L.E.A.N.S.E. steps taught me how to slow down, chew more slowly, and feel what it is like to digest my food.

Food and emotions are similar. Swallow them (without awareness) and you find yourself feeling sluggish and bloated. Emotional detoxes teach you how to ditch the attachment to losing weight and instead focus on increasing energy through natural foods, exercise, and the digestion of your raw emotions.

Emotional detoxes help us sustain a healthy weight. Because the C.L.E.A.N.S.E. formula is based on self-awareness, it is a great help in creating a positive relationship with food, especially if you are someone who reacts to emotions by mindless eating or calorie counting.

Emotional detoxes raise awareness, and as this occurs we get to make choices that are more in line with our visions and goals.

Healing Your Body

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When teaching yoga, I have seen many people with an inability to move a certain part of their body—frozen shoulders, extremely tight hips—with no real “cause.” Although the yoga postures and movements seem to help, it isn’t until these people start the C.L.E.A.N.S.E. formula that I begin to see a change (for the better) in their bodies.

One of the benefits of the C.L.E.A.N.S.E. formula is it can easily be integrated into activities like yoga, which can incorporate the steps to shift participants into healing mode so that everyone can walk away feeling lighter and stronger and with less reactivity.

Youthful Skin

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The impact over processing your emotions can have on your skin and face. The skin is the largest organ in the body and happens to be the first thing we see when we look at ourselves in the mirror.

It is no surprise that when we are stuffed with anger, riddled with guilt, or exhausted by life stressors, that those around us can recognize our state in our face and body. Again, our emotions are not bad—it is our reaction to them that holds them in place, affecting the elasticity of tissue and skin, forcing our muscles and organs to carry their weight. Emotional detoxes rid the body of this burden, and as a result, we feel lighter, more flexible, and youthful.


Image of woman standing in prayer pose on the beach, her eyes are closed doing Simple Breathwork Meditation For Beginners
iStock/Jasmina007 – Credit: iStock/Jasmina007

Since we are all different, our emotional detoxes won’t look quite the same. The nine suggestions that follow focus on the physical side of the six steps, whereas C.L.E.A.N.S.E. will help you mindfully integrate the more spiritual aspects of the detox.

1. Daily Movement

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If you are not crazy about cardio, join the club—neither am I. But you can take a brisk walk, run with your dog, do some jumping jacks, spin on a bike, or take an aerobics class.

When your heart rate goes up, your blood begins to circulate through your major detoxifying organs like your kidneys and liver, helping you to remove toxins. This circulation is key to your emotional well-being because it significantly decreases symptoms of anxiety, making it easier for you to tone down reactivity.

You may have noticed your body adjusts its temperature according to your physical movement. The more you run, the warmer you get. Your body then begins to regulate its temperature through sweating. The same thing happens with emotions. A higher level of reactivity can have an impact on your body temperature. The more movement in our emotions, the warmer we may feel, whereas less movement (emotionally) can make us feel cooler. This affects the expansion and contraction of your muscles.

Anger, for example, can have quite a bit of movement—producing heat in your face and making you feel like your veins are going to burst—while heavier emotions such as depression can make you feel cold, drained, and lifeless.

Incorporating daily movement helps keep energy moving, stimulating fluctuations in your bodily temperature necessary for detoxifying emotions. As your body temperature heats up or cools down, this reflects what is happening internally with your emotions. For example, sadness may bubble up and expand, and as the reactivity is released, you get to download the pure energy of that emotion. Tell yourself there is something wrong or panic, and you will interrupt the process.

Start where you can! Those of you who don’t exercise at all might be rolling your eyes now. You might be saying, “Been there, done that.”

Sure, you might have exercised because you wanted to lose weight, gain muscle, relieve stress, or just feel better; however, this time it’s different. Your intention is to connect to your wholeness.

If you are one of those people who needs some real guidelines, I would say plan on incorporating an exercise program for at least a few weeks and begin where you can. Some simple ways to add activity can be taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking farther away from your destination, or taking frequent breaks (standing up, stretching, swaying your arms) at your desk.

It would be great if you could work yourself up to thirty minutes of various exercises four to five days a week. There is evidence that having to meet someone for a walk or joining a class can help get you motivated.

For those of you who are going through some sort of a crisis, believe me, I get it—there were days I went to the gym and stared at the wall. Then there were days I just lay in bed. Eventually, with practice, the steps allowed me to progress further in my emotional healing (wholeness), as they will for you.

2. Hydrate

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When you are dehydrated, it can cause symptoms such as headaches, anxiety, fatigue, clogged pores, insomnia, and mental confusion. During my detox, I drank a lot of coconut water and ate fruits and veggies that are high in water content, like melons, zucchini, celery, and spinach. You know you are well hydrated if your urine is pale yellow or clear. If it is dark and has a strong odor, you will have a challenging time digesting and absorbing your food and your raw emotions.

Staying hydrated will help keep your body’s energy flowing steadily. If you are not a big fan of drinking water, consider pampering yourself by putting fresh fruit in a pitcher (strawberry, kiwi, or lemon slices) and allowing it to infuse your water with some nutrients. You can also buy a cool water bottle, one that helps you to know exactly how much you drink. Keep in mind anything with carbonation does not count because carbonated and caffeinated beverages (even green tea) can interfere with the digestive process. 

C.L.E.A.N.S.E. formula how your colon plays a role in supporting your emotional flow.

3. Probiotics

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Taking probiotics either as a drink is a way to consume healthy bacteria that will help you remove toxins. Mixing one tablespoon of organic apple cider vinegar with a glass of water is one of the more affordable ways to do this.

The research being done so far shows great promise for those who suffer from anxiety, depression, Crohn’s disease, and gastrointestinal problems. If probiotics can curb social anxiety (which can be intense), they could certainly help move emotional turmoil. Even when I’m not doing an emotional detox, I continue to use probiotics two to three times per week and have found many benefits, such as a decrease in allergies, brighter skin, and more regular bowel movements.

4. Limit Dairy

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Evidence shows it is not the dairy per se that is the problem but the way it is produced. One of the concerns is the added hormones, which can wreak havoc on the digestive and nervous systems. One of the side effects of dairy (like stress) is it produces mucus (which contains toxins our bodies want to get rid of and which, when not cleared, can cause weight gain, acne, and phlegm, making us more susceptible to allergies and other inflammatory issues). I often picture the mucus coating the reactivity (toxins), making it difficult to digest my emotions.

Almond and coconut milk products are great substitutes. When fortified, each offers you the calcium without the bloating and gassiness dairy can cause.

I think you will find whole-food calcium alternatives such as kale, almonds, and spinach are a great source for supporting you in your wholeness journey.

5. Minimize Alcohol Consumption

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Alcohol and drugs will negatively interfere with your emotional atmosphere. They have a way of lowering our level of consciousness so that we are less aware of our bodily sensations. To truly detox your emotions (reactivity), you must have bodily awareness. This is not to say you can’t have an occasional glass of wine with dinner; however, if you are consuming more than a couple of glasses a week, you may not get the full benefits of the detox.

If you are having difficulty stopping yourself from this habit, you are going to want to get support. You are likely to find the community of people looking to change their drinking and drug-use habits quite supportive, encouraging, and friendly. Groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Refuge Recovery have safe, comfortable ways to successfully help members.

6. Clean Up Your Food

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As during a physical detox, consuming whole foods during an emotional detox is extremely beneficial. This is because whole foods support the energy of your emotions. This means you will be selecting foods that are closest to their most natural (whole and organic) state—foods that are low in sodium, sugar, dyes, and processing.

You may consider replacing white-flour products with quinoa bread, quinoa pasta, or quinoa rice. It is important that you eat regular meals and snacks.

Here are some wholesome, clean foods to consider putting on your shopping list:

• Quinoa, bread, pasta, cereal, and rice

• Avocados, spinach, and kale (for calcium)

• Apple cider vinegar to make dressing for salads

• Coconut water (for hydration)

• Nuts (especially almonds)

• Healthy fats, such as coconut oil, olive oil, and butter

• Lean meats, such as chicken (preferably no added hormones)

• Coconut or almond milk

• Fruits high in calcium, such as kiwis, strawberries, oranges, and prunes

• Foods high in dopamine, the neurotransmitter for elevating mood, such as bananas, dark chocolate, and turmeric (which is great on salads and sandwiches)

Now that you have the groundwork for an emotional detox, find more tips for implementing the more C.L.E.A.N.S.E. steps on my website, or in my book Emotional Detox, now in paperback!

Excerpted from Emotional Detox: 7 Steps to Release Toxicity and Energize Joy by Sherianna Boyle, Med, CAGS. Copyright © 2018 Adams Media, a division of Simon and Schuster. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

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Sherianna Boyle is the author of seven books, her most recent being: Emotional Detox: 7 Steps to Releasing Toxicity... More about Sherianna Boyle, Med, CAGS