What is a Seasonal Detox
So, for those of you that know me, you know that I love to do at least two seasonal detoxes per year with possibly a few shorter ones mixed in. Whenever I feel like I need to push the “re-set” button, clear out some junk in the trunk (literally and figuratively), drop in, snap to attention and realign with my bigger self and what I want in my life, on all levels, I shift into cleanse mode.
How do I want to feel in my body? How do I want my core relationships to go down? What do I want to feel professionally, creatively, and personally? How do I want my home to look and feel? Seriously, a good detox for me is way more than just what’s going into my mouth. It’s about what’s feeding me mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
There’s no denying the benefits of carving out periods of time in your life to give yourself, your digestion, your schedule, your mind, or your body a little extra attention, love, and conscious downtime.
FROM WINTER TO SPRING
The changing of the season is the perfect time to do this. When I carve out three weeks in the Spring and in the Fall to join a community of others doing the same thing, it becomes a pretty potent/ powerful and protected time on my annual calendar. This is a time, that as a collective, we align our goals for renewal, rejuvenation, self care, and detoxification of old habits, out-of-season foods, extra weight from the winter months, and any other heaviness in our being and lives that we may be carrying forward into the changing of the seasons. Seasonal cleansing also can be done alone, I just recommend having support during the process.
When we talk about “daily rhythm” in Ayurveda, we’re talking about the natural cycles that take place in nature and how our own daily habits either align with or go against nature’s rhythm. Think about seasonal rhythms and how the snow blankets the ground in winter. Underneath it is lending its inherent qualities of cold, insular, and quiet to the hibernation of plants and animals. We too, are meant to retreat, sleep longer, and treat our body in a way that is warming, insulating, and nourishing. Our body wants to be in sync with the natural rhythms, both daily and seasonally, for optimal health. When we carve out time to slow down and really listen to the needs of our body and simplify, we give ourselves focused time to resolve any residual effects of perhaps any of the habits we’ve established that may not be supportive of optimal health.
SHIFT IN DIET
The shift from Winter to Spring requires a change in diet. Winter is a time when the air is dry, cold, clear, and light. Most vegetation is storing energy in its roots, protected from the season’s cold. The bodies’ furnace and digestive fires are at their best to digest and metabolize healthier fats and proteins. Our bodies do the same.
Winter foods and recipes are typically heavier, denser, and oilier such as root vegetables, cold weather greens like kale, collards, and chard. Spices are warming such as cinnamon, ginger, and cumin, and unrefined sweeteners such as raw honey, molasses, and maple syrup. Soups, stews, and protein-rich meals are what we want to consume in this season.
There’s a natural shift in our inner clock as the outer clock shifts to the Spring season. The rivers are full with snowmelt, and the once-frozen sap is starting to run in the trees. Moisture that was frozen is now starting to move away the stagnation of winter. The days get longer and warmer, and the desire and cravings for the heavier/warming/ grounding food of Fall/ Winter begin to shed.
Spring is the best time for clearing and lightening. If we listen to our body, we can feel the desire for lighter, simple foods that digest easily with the arrival of the warmer weather.
This transitional time is the perfect time to support your body’s natural needs with a Spring Cleaning. A seasonal cleanse also allows the body to expel any excessive qualities that may have been accumulated during the past season (e.g. heat from the summer and mucus in the winter).
I’ll always recommend a group cleanse if you have access to that, as you have accountability, support, and collaboration, plus it’s just more fun.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
There are a million ways to do this and my suggestion is always -- especially if you’re new to detox/ cleansing -- keep it simple. It’s all about how can you simplify -- create more space in your calendar, clear out the unwanted stuff in your living space, office, and car-- and make room for more of the good stuff. Think about adding in more of what nourishes you. Make space for what’s truly important and necessary in your surroundings and on your calendar. Take time to rest, watch the clouds, and go inward.
You already know what habits may not be serving you, for example the regular morning coffee or evening glass of wine. Eating heavy foods that make you feel weighed down and not light and vibrant may be ones to cut back on.
Tune in to what is happening in your local markets and grocery stores, in the fruits and vegetable aisles. Get curious about what’s seasonal and what’s preferably local. This may be trickier in parts of the country where there’s still snow on the ground, but find out what IS available and load up on that. If it’s not local -- keep it organic and pesticide free.
Eat a simple, plant-based whole foods diet, with more of the tastes that are pungent, astringent, and bitter. These are found in foods such as:
Bitter: hardy greens like kale and collards, brussel sprouts, arugula, cabbage, broccoli, dandelion greens
Pungent: turmeric, bright berries, ginger, and spicy soups
Astringent: fruits like pears, apples, dried cherries, pomegranate, raisins, and prunes, and lean proteins such as beans, lentils, egg whites, and white meats for non-vegetarians.
CLEAR YOUR SPACE
Like I’ve been saying, detoxing to me is not JUST about food, it’s also about a mental, emotional, and spatial clearing. It’s about what is out of alignment with every aspect of my life and who I want to be. Detoxing requires a clear and clean atmosphere as we’re creating new ways of doings things in our lives that align us with who we want to be, how we want to feel, and how we want to show up in the world. We simply can’t do that if we’re anchored down in our old, out-dated habits, patterns, and stuff.
One of my favorite books and philosophies is, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” This is not for the faint of heart by any means. It’s a roll up your sleeves, ditch nostalgia, and “make way for the magic to happen in the newly released energy around you” philosophy. I’ve by no means mastered it, but it’s a process worthy of the effort.
Check out my tipsheet on 7 Steps to Clear Your Space Using the Konmari Method
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
Sure, there are many detoxes out there that you tell EXACTLY step-by-step what you’re going to do, and each step must be followed to a T to get the results you want. I’m sure there’s a place for those too.
I’m most interested in tuning into my intuition and listening to my body for what it truly needs in this time of year. Is it more rest, or less food? Perhaps more time for relaxing and/or playing? Do I want to eat certain things that make me feel light, energetic, and nourished, or do I need more grounding and nourishing foods? Am I desiring more clarity and space in my mind, my surroundings, and my calendar? Ask your body and your heart what they need. The brain gets waaaaaay too much stage time. Instead, put it behind the curtain for awhile and let your body and heart have center stage.
We allow our brains to make all the executive decisions about everything. What’s on the agenda today? What pace will I force my body to keep because of work, family, and other external commitments? What food/drink will I eat to resolve my sadness, anxiety, boredom, or joy? What will I stimulate myself with even when I’m exhausted -- TV, music, computer, phone?
Our mind also needs a rest from input and a chance to get rid of stuff. Remember that the mind has to digest sensory input, experience, and emotion. When life gets busy, the mind gets overstimulated and we can actually experience a backlog of mental “food.” Some quiet time, self-care, and time to relax the mind are necessary to open up some space for mental digestion. With all the media, computers, screens, and smartphones that we’re constantly being stimulated by, we need to take a break every once in awhile.
Detoxing/cleansing presses the pause button with the intention of deepening our awareness of how we feel, what we truly want, and attuning our minds to listen to our body.
I know this is a lot to digest if you’re new to cleansing. Taking Kaizen steps (baby steps) and trying one or two of these suggestions is a step in the right direction to a healthier body, clearer mind, graceful aging, and a more ease-ful, less stressful life.
For more TIPS on SEASONAL DETOX check out my TIPSHEET under Free Offerings.