The term “emotional baggage” is a very apt one for the consequences it has on the body, quality of life and relationships, and how we perform at work and play.
When the mind is stuck in toxic or counter-productive thought patterns, when we’re plagued by negative emotions, it weighs us down like metaphorical overstuffed suitcases attracting excess baggage charges.
Emotional overload can also contribute to physical symptoms such as weight gain, or the inability to lose excess weight.
Many clients who come to you for fat loss and body contouring solutions could be sabotaging their own results by virtue of what’s going on their their heads.
They may be in denial about how much they’re eating or the calorific content of their diet, for instance, or are eating or drinking things that compromise digestion and overtax liver function. Erratic eating patterns that often result from the mind being so preoccupied can also set metabolism on a downward spiral.
The “stress hormone” cortisol, when produced for prolonged periods, is also known to contribute to the laying down of fat on the abdominal area. And when you consider that fat cells store toxins, it all becomes a very vicious cycle.
Dr Deanna Minich, a world-renowned American functional nutritionist and “whole detox” expert, will visit Sydney as a keynote speaker at the 4th BioCeuticals Research Symposium, entitled Revolutionary Strategies for Complex Diseases, from April 22-24, to educate health professionals on detoxification.
Here Dr Minich, who holds PhD in Medical Sciences (Human Nutrition and Metabolism) and a Masters in Human Nutrition and Metabolism, talks to SPA+CLINIC about the importance of detoxing the mind as well as the body.
S+C: What is a mental detox?
A: Just like toxins can build up in our body, they also can weigh down our minds; limiting thoughts, negative emotions, stress, and unhealthy relationships are all negative toxins.
While most detoxes focus exclusively on our bodies, the mind also can be bogged down by toxins and require detoxing.
More and more research has found that the mind is interconnected with the body, and plays an equally important role in your health.
For an example, look no further than stress. While it begins in your mind can have concrete damage on your body, in the form of high blood pressure, lowered immune system response, and more.
A detox that focuses only on the physical self is not addressing or treating a major player in your health.
One of the main mental toxins is limiting thoughts, such as: “If someone else needs help, I can’t say no,” “Nobody cares what I think,” or “I’m not good at learning new things.”
These – as much as heavy metals, pesticides, and xenoestrogens – are toxic barriers that weigh us down, sapping energy that might be used for better things.
I remember hearing years ago that we have from 60,000-80,000 thoughts each day— and a majority of them are negative! Imagine how those limiting thoughts are choking your internal flame and how much more brightly you would burn with better fuel.
After all, we don’t have infinite energy. Limiting thoughts weigh heavily upon us, wasting our precious energy.
How do you embark on a mental detox?
During my Whole Detox program, I teach several ways to combat negative thoughts. As always, the first step is awareness: identify a thought that has been holding you back and give yourself a little time to reflect upon it, to understand its source.
You may try journalling about that thought: how it has limited you, when you first began to think that way, what life might be like without that toxic barrier.
From there, we look for ways to either remove or replace these mental toxins. Limiting thoughts are replaced with positive affirmations, and we try to remove – or at least reduce – the sources of negative emotions, stress, and unhealthy relationships.
As you let go of limiting thoughts, you’ll be able to replace them with expansive, positive, empowering thoughts and affirmations; thoughts that better fit your current reality and serve you for a more fulfilling future.
How does positive affirmation work?
An affirmation is a simple statement affirming a positive attribute of your life: “I am rooted fully in my physical body,” “My moods are balanced and my thinking is clear and precise,” “I am fulfilled with the abundance of life.”
When you fully engage with an affirmation, you find that it begins to become true for you, subtly transforming negative self-talk into positive and empowering truths.
I’ve used affirmations for years with patients and workshop participants, and I’ve always been surprised at how effective and transformative they can be.
Science has begun to validate those perceptions with a growing body of research on the positive effects of affirmations.
Many of my clients have asked me how they can repeat a statement that does not seem true to them. “What if I don’t feel fully rooted in my body?” one of my patients asked me. “It’s not true, so how can I say it is?”
My answer is that we are mining another possibility, another version of the truth. If you lived in the least toxic, most positive version of your life, the affirmation would be true. By asserting that it is true (“fake it until you make it”), you create the opportunity for it to become true.
If you find yourself feeling unsure or skeptical, why not experiment and find out just how well affirmations might work for you? Say the words out loud, see how they affect your body and your emotions, and live in the vision they inspire.
Just be sure that you use only positive language: “I am free” rather than “I am not restricted.” Use your voice to speak your truth, and see how healing it can be to connect to this alternate vision of yourself. Give yourself a chance to reprogram toxic beliefs into healing truths, and discover what possibilities begin to open up.
Key tips for doing a mental detox?
- Try keeping an emotion journal. At the end of the day, write down the emotions you felt during the day. After a few days, you may notice a trend emerging. Do you spend most of your days angry, frustrated, stressed, or sad? What makes you happy? What brings you peace? Are there activities or people who uplift you? Do certain situations routinely annoy you or bring you down? Becoming aware of how you feel over time can be a profound awakening, and can help you reduce the factors that may be making you sad, angry, or annoyed.
- Monitor yourself for negative thoughts you think during the day. If you find yourself thinking “I am not capable enough to do this project”, replace it with a positive affirmation, like “I am competent and excel at my job”. Even if you don’t believe these affirmations at first, you may find that they quickly become your personal truth.
- With the help of your emotion log, notice how you feel after interacting with certain people. Do you walk away felling fulfilled and loved, or angry, self-conscious, or down? If it’s the latter, it may be time to reevaluate your relationship with that person, and determine whether they are someone that you want to continue to invite into your life.