5 Ways to Deal with the Emotional Side of Detoxing

Written by Demetra Szatkowski

Most people are familiar with the physical symptoms of detox: headaches, fatigue, muscle aches, breakouts, digestion issues, rashes… the list goes on and on. However, there's another part of detox that is occasionally mentioned but never really talked about, and that part deals with your emotions.

Some people might know what I'm talking about. You switch to a new type of diet, and suddenly start to feel random bursts of emotion such as anger, depression, or fear. From my experience, it doesn't necessarily matter what type of diet you're on as long as it's clean; I've had it happen on a juice fast, candida cleanse, switching to vegan, and yes, even trying Paleo for a while. No matter what your views are on food, when you cut out all processed, unhealthy items, 99.9 percent of us are going to experience a release of toxins.

Or, maybe you've had this happen through yoga. Your heart is wide open in a backbend, and then suddenly, without explanation, you burst into tears. If this hasn't happened to you, it's a little difficult to believe. I didn't think it was real until it happened to me. Yoga is very good at releasing stored emotions in your body. It happens most frequently without thinking about it, but if you haven't had this happen and want to (hey, it's a good thing!), it helps to notice what the pose is doing and how you're feeling at that time. For example, you're reaching back into Ustrasana (Camel Pose). Instead of focusing on the physical sensations, notice how you feel mentally. If you know the pose is supposed to open your heart, then actually accept that. Say it in your head: "Yes, I feel vulnerable here. Yes, that's okay. I accept that this will release whatever I have stored in my body for so long."

The reason this occurs is because you are very capable of storing your emotions physically. This happens constantly, and it happens to everyone. Did you ever notice how your breath quickens when you're in fear, or how your heart begins pounding when you're angry? Emotions certainly are expressed physically, and they can be stored as well. Chinese Medicine says that different emotions are actually related to different organs (i.e. liver to anger), and that's interesting to learn. But, you don't need to have that knowledge in order to help yourself.

5 Ways to Make It Better:

1. Allow it to happen: Know that it can happen, and accept it when it does. Don't fight yourself; you're experiencing a release. The whole point of the release is to let go of negative things buried deep inside you- don't suppress it and re-bury them. Burst into tears! Yell! Cry! After it passes, you'll feel much, much better.

2. Find the reason: Did you go through a traumatic event where you wanted to cry every second of every day, but you held it in instead? If you feel intense sadness, then maybe that's where it's coming from. Or maybe you spent your whole life pleasing other people, never expressing your feelings, and now you're feeling angry. If you can't find a reason for what you're experiencing, that's okay too. Some yogis believe you're carrying these things from past lives as well! Just let it go.

3. Watch your emotions: Instead of becoming one with your emotions, recognize that they are not you. If you're feeling depressed, really notice that you're feeling depressed. Know that it's most likely stemming from detox. Try to look at your emotions from an outside point of view, and know that it's good to experience it and then release it, even if it's unpleasant while it's happening.

4. Have support: Know that this can happen ahead of time, and prepare the people in your life! They are often the ones who bring on the release of emotion, usually by being annoying. They don't cause the emotion, but they can provoke it. If your husband forgets to do something and you suddenly get very, overly angry, that's not you! Often the only thing you can do is step away from the situation and let the emotion pass. You are going to overreact. Tell them that ahead of time. Don't listen to people in your life who don't know what they're talking about. If I'm juice fasting and become irritable, my family will tell me it's from lack of adequate nutrition. Hear what they're saying, but listen to yourself. There is a difference between an unexplained release of emotions and becoming depressed because you're hungry.

5. Do things to help you detox: Make the experience as pleasant as possible! Drink a lot of water, do light exercise, spend time in nature. These things may seem small but are so important; don't overlook them! Remember to give your body rest when it needs it. If you're doing a diet change (that's not a fast), make sure you eat enough. You will become irritable if you're hungry, and that's not a release of toxins – that's an addition to them!

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