With the start of the New Year, it is super common to receive an onslaught of information and marketing around cleansing, “detoxing,” and getting fit. While I am in full support for helping bring the body back into balance so you can feel like your best self, I’ve got a surprise for you: you actually don’t need to “cleanse” in order to get there!
The body is not actually “dirty,” you may have just fallen a little out of balance so you’re starting to see some side effects of that. Maybe your skin is a little duller than normal, you have less energy day-to-day than you would like, or you’re feeling faster muscle fatigue than you used to when exercising. The media has taught us to equate these totally normal bodily occurrences with needing to do a full-body cleanse ASAP. We are taught to shame our holiday celebrations and occasional indulgences and start “detoxing” the body as soon as New Year’s Day rings in. While I am all for the inspiration and motivation that the turning of the New Year can bring for those who are stuck in a rut with their wellness routines, it’s time to re-think your “cleanse.”
In this article, I want to share 5 tips to help you re-think your “cleanse” (and feel free to totally re-name this word if you find it triggering or no longer fitting for what your body needs).
Note: I will continue to use the word "cleanse" throughout the article to define a concentrated period of time used with intention for a personalized health-supportive goal.
1. Hone in on Your Intention
Before you dive into any type of program, supplement regime, or herbal protocol, first sit and ask yourself: what is my intention here? Let your intuition guide you and remember that your answer is totally unique to you and your personal health journey. For instance: your intention could be to feel less sluggish or to boost your digestion or simply to help your body feel more balanced overall. It can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be.
2. Ask yourself: How can I NOURISH myself into where I want to be?
In most cases, the body doesn’t truly need to be “cleansed,” it simply lacking nourishment in some area. Perhaps there is a lingering nutrient deficiency, you need more quality rest at night, or your body is simply in need of nutritious home-cooked meals.
It is easy to become over-restrictive when designing a "cleanse", but you can actually support the body’s natural detoxification pathways through eating MORE, adding in beneficial herbs or supplements, and incorporating beneficial elements to your lifestyle. I am a big fan of creating nourishing food-based "cleanses", where you eat as much as you need of nourishing, whole foods instead of limiting and hyper-restricting your diet. In essence: there are many different ways to design a cleanse-type program and, ultimately, you always want to emerge from the other end feeling more nourished and revitalized than before, not more depleted.
3. Check-in Throughout: What does my body truly NEED at this moment?
Engaging with any sort of cleanse is a major intuitive practice. Even though you may have mapped everything out for yourself before starting, as you go along, you might realize the routine or regimen you designed for yourself is no longer serving you. Perhaps you need to make an adjustment or circumstances in your environment have changed and it is no longer conducive for supporting a cleanse at all.
Honor your true intuition every day throughout your cleanse to make sure that you are doing the most nourishing and supportive practices for your body. Strive to discern this intuition from impulsive and fleeting cravings (i.e. - don’t just decide to break your cleanse at the drop of a hat because you started craving a cupcake 5 minutes ago!)
4. Create a list of supportive & nourishing practices to draw from
Beyond the actual foundation of whatever herbs, supplements, or nutritional components you have chosen for your cleanse, it is important to implement supportive and nourishing practices throughout. Remember: the practices that feel supportive for someone else might not feel supportive for you (and vice versa!). Personalize your list for you.
Some examples include: warm baths, calming herbal tea, yoga, dance, singing, playing a musical instrument, taking a rest break in the middle of the day, meditating, going for a nature walk, massage, acupuncture, etc.
If you are someone who thrives more on structure, create more structure for yourself and pencil in exactly when you will do these supportive practices throughout your cleanse. If you thrive more on having creative freedom within the container of your cleanse, give yourself that breathing room and simply draw from the list as needed.
5. Remember to rest, rest, rest.
Even if you design a super simple, nourishing, food-focused cleanse for yourself, remember that the body is in restoration mode during this period of time and needs deep rest. If you can, allow yourself to go to bed earlier and sleep without an alarm clock. Taking a day or two off of work while you are cleansing can be super supportive to helping the body shift gears to rest & restoring.
Cleanses are a short, concentrated period of time focused on nourishing the body back into balance. Ditch social media during your cleanse and reschedule social arrangements (not that we have many these days ... but Zoom hangouts count as socializing too!)
I hope these 5 tips helped you re-think your “cleanse” and approach to natural cleansing! If you are in need of more specific information or resources on herbs, supplements, and other self-care tools to help support you on your cleanse, swing by our apothecary or send us an email and we are happy to suggest some products and herbs for you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Heather Saba is a Certified Clinical Herbalist and Nutritionist, Medical Anthropologist, Writer, Whole-Body Wellness Coach, and Holistic Educator. She sees clients virtually for one-on-one herbal + nutritional wellness sessions, including custom herbal formulations. Connect with her on her personal website (www.heathersaba.com) and Instagram (@heathersaba).