Author: Becca Edwards
People have been cleansing since the beginning of human history—and for myriad reasons. From classical religious fasting, to celebrity weight-loss cleanses such as Beyoncé’s exclusively purified water mixed with lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper, to the detoxification of specific organs like the liver, a veritable buffet of cleansing options and objectives exist. The beginning of a new year gets everyone all riled up to make resolutions and to believe that this year can be different; a cleanse is often a great way to achieve a renewed sense of self.
The real reason ancient peeps started cleansing was to promote physical and mental clarity so they could achieve a higher purpose. One could argue that annual self-improvement is a higher purpose of sorts. I’d say so. But I’d also say that before you jump into a purification program, you must decide what you want to accomplish. Do you want to have a better outlook on life? Do you want to lose weight? Do you want more vitality? One cleanse does not fit all, so here are a few options. You can pick one specific cleanse or elements from each to form your own plan.
The Negative Cleanse
Ideal for: Anyone who feels sad, stressed or angry or has had a rough year.
Not all cleansing requires restricting food. Sometimes cleansing focuses on thoughts and detoxing the brain. During this cleanse, you will commit to a specific amount of time. I recommend two weeks to a month, but you may need more. As in all cleanses, you need to look at your calendar and determine the ideal start and stop dates. Once you have selected the dates, put it on your calendar. (I even set a reminder alert in my calendar app.) For your pre-cleanse assignment, you will jot down or type up a list of negative things, thoughts or experiences in your life. No need to rank or prioritize. Just make a solid list.
The morning of day one, pick one of the items on the list. Find five or so minutes of alone time to think about that item, but instead of dwelling on it, you are going to visually remove that item from yourself (whether is resides in your heart, your head or somewhere else). In place of that void, fill the space with a positive aspect in your life. For example, when I did this cleanse, the damage from Hurricane Matthew was bumming me out. My dock was destroyed, and my backyard where my children played was in shambles. I chose to remove the sadness my surroundings created and instead think about something positive about being outdoors. The first thing that came to mind was s’mores. My children love s’mores. That night, we had a s’mores party outside among all the debris, and suddenly my heart felt lighter. Some hurts run a little deeper than others, so some items on your list might take a few days of trial and error. But the idea is to get as much of your list accomplished during your allotted cleanse timeframe.
The b.e.WELL Cleanse
Ideal for: Anyone who wants to reduce inflammation, feel more radiant and lose a little weight.
You will need to set aside one month to do this cleanse. The first week is what I call deceleration mode. During that time, you will phase out inflammatory foods including processed foods, gluten, dairy and sugar, and start stocking up on whole foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, unprocessed meats and raw nuts. (For a full grocery list, check out my blog at bewellbecreative.com.) To avoid wasting your old food, try baking a dish for a neighbor or friend or making something you can freeze for later. During this week, you will also eat clean. That means limiting alcohol and caffeine intake and the aforementioned inflammatory foods whether eating at home or out at a restaurant.
Week two through four is when you get serious about what you put in your body—whether it is a food or an emotion. That means you only consume whole foods and positive thoughts. On the first day of this phase, bake a whole organic chicken with any veggies you like. (My favorite way to do this is on high for four and a half hours in my crockpot.) Then make a stock from the chicken bones. (I know it sounds time-consuming, but your health is worth it.) You can use the stock to make a soup, sauce or just to sip on for the next three days. Make this your primary source of nourishment, making sure to not skip any meals or deprive yourself, and incorporate other whole foods as needed. For the remainder of the time, you will continue with the anti-inflammatory diet, and you will exercise at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week.
The Essential Oil Program
Ideal for: Anyone who wants to detoxify their body and environment.
Not all oils are created equal, so you will want to buy the highest quality oil like doTERRA or Young Living. (Note: Health food store oils tend to spoil and are often inferior.) You want to start with the basic oils: peppermint, tea tree (or melaleuca), lemon, lavender, eucalyptus, and frankincense. Think about the products you use most often, your lifestyle and habits; then start experimenting with your oils.
Peppermint is great for headaches; when you feel one coming on, try dabbing some on your temples. If you have trouble sleeping, try rubbing lavender on the soles of your feet. Got acne? Try spot treating with tea tree oil. For household cleaning products, try water, vinegar and lemon juice. For that cold that will not go away, put eucalyptus in a diffuser or on your chest. And for vitality, use frankincense—I make a homemade anti-aging cream with it. Keep experimenting. The more you play, the more you will see how easy it is to live healthy naturally.
Becca Edwards is a wellness professional, freelance writer, owner of b.e.WELL+b.e.CREATIVE (bewellbecreative.com).
• Oil pulling. I know this sounds odd and slightly gross but this ancient Ayurvedic practice does work—just ask my hygienist. First thing in the morning, take a tablespoon of coconut oil and swish it in your mouth for 10 minutes. It whitens your teeth, boosts your immune system, reduces inflammation, and prevents cavities.
• Epson salt bath. Some of the countless health benefits of a salt bath include relaxing the nervous system, curing skin problems, soothing back pain and aching limbs, easing muscle strain, healing cuts, treating colds and congestion, and drawing toxins from the body.
• Massage. Bodywork is not a luxury; it’s a necessity. Getting a massage helps relieve anxiety, digestive disorders, fibromyalgia, headaches, insomnia related to stress, myofascial pain syndrome, soft tissue strains or injuries and sports injuries.
• Water—Purified water is the best way to flush out toxins.
• A clear calendar. As much as you can, clearing your calendar will be the secret to successful cleansing.