One of the best ways to start off a new year with a clear head, a light heart, and loads of energy is to unload the psychological baggage you have been lugging around the prior 12 months — or perhaps your entire life.
In the same way that pure, cleansing foods and juices help your body let go of toxins, a mental detox frees your mind from toxic thoughts that can keep you mired in depression, anxiety, and stress — a mix that is our No. 1 enemy when it comes to staying healthy.
Here’s a little expert advice from psychologists and healers on how to clear the decks:
- Let it out. Keep a journal just for this purpose and write, as freely as possible, about the things that may be getting you down. Do not worry about grammar or spelling — think of it as a stream-of-consciousness narrative and let the words flow.
Do not censor your thoughts. Open yourself to all of the things you might have been afraid to discuss with others or even admit to yourself. Allow the words to flow straight from your heart to the paper.
No one is going to see your journal entries, so let the anger and frustration out completely. Say what you feel.
Psychologists say most people are amazed by how light they feel when they are done. Finish the exercise with a promise to yourself that you are strong enough to release these toxic thoughts, leave them in your past and move forward.
- Relax. Take 10 minutes and enjoy these easy, stress-reducing yoga poses. This series is designed for beginners so anyone can benefit from the exercises. Research shows that yoga reduces anxiety and — bonus — can also lower your risk for heart disease.
- Break new ground. Do something completely new to stimulate your mind in a fresh and exciting way. Listen to a type of music you’ve never heard before. Or experiment with a new workout — if you always do cardio, try Tai Chi. Play a word puzzle and even a video game.
- Log off. Take a weekend break from the overstimulation that comes with constant social media checking and participation. Give Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and your smartphone a rest.
- Schedule some quiet time. The holidays are filled with great opportunities to see family and old friends, but all of that social interaction can be draining. If possible, give yourself a couple of days off from loved ones and sit with yourself and your thoughts. Do not stress yourself with resolutions, but allow yourself to daydream a little about what you want for yourself in the coming year.
- Show yourself some love. Make a conscious decision to be more kind to yourself. Think about the way you talk to yourself. Are you judgmental? Critical? Psychologists say that you can pound yourself into depression by not showing yourself the level of understanding you most likely offer other people.
Learn to recast your self-talk so that you become your own close, supportive friend.
Think of all of your wonderful qualities — you might even make a list. Then make it your purpose to be patient and compassionate with yourself in the coming year and beyond.
Have a wonderful, healthy, and peaceful 2015!