What Is An Emotional Detox? 5 Steps To Begin Your Detox Today

What is an emotional detox and why you should consider detoxing today? Emotions are an incredibly complex phenomenon when you really think about it. We experience emotions that result in both physical and psychological changes which then influence our thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. Emotions motivate us to take action, compel us to make decisions, and allow us to understand and empathize with other humans. Without them, we become void of any motivation or inspiration to grow and adapt throughout our lives. 

Based on certain circumstances, many people experience a shift in their emotions as they attempt to protect themselves from the pain, frustration, anger, envy, or jealousy, to name a few. Many of us (including myself) will at times deal with these emotions in a negative manner. For instance, when we get hurt by someone we could consider two methods of coping: 

  1. Withdraw from emotion entirely: in order to alleviate the hurt, many people suppress the emotions they feel entirely in order to move on.
  2. Overreact to the environment: creating a heightened response to people or circumstances, many people have outbursts of anger in order to feel more in control.

Regardless of what you may be experiencing, you may be in need of an emotional detox in order to reset these thoughts and feelings and take more control over your mindset. Starting an emotional detox can help guide you towards making a more positive, healthy response in various situations you face. Keep reading to discover what is an emotional detox and how you can start yours within our 5 simples steps.

What Is An Emotional Detox?

An emotional detox allows you to adequately process your emotions. Unlike what most people may think, emotional detoxing is not done to rid yourself of any negative emotions; instead, it’s a way to clear the path of any emotions that got stuck in order to allow you to experience the full spectrum of your emotions in a healthier manner. 

Overthinking your thoughts and feelings creates a tangled web of emotions that become difficult to sort through. In order to allow yourself to experience the good emotions, you really do need to feel and process the bad too! 

The goal is to learn to acknowledge the emotion, make sense of it, and move forward. Through the various steps of emotional detoxing, you can untangle this web and reach a positive mindset. 

Why Should You Emotionally Detox?

If you find yourself constantly overthinking and overcomplicating any of your thoughts or feelings, you’re in need of an emotional detox. If you’re someone who always puts others ahead of yourself, feels guilty about saying no, or simply disengages from activities you previously love doing then you could benefit from an emotional detox. Other signs may include… 

  • Becoming easily distracted
  • Constantly worrying about the future
  • Experiencing relationship problems
  • Lying to yourself and others
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Avoiding certain places or people
  • Feeling stuck or out of balance
  • Feeling constantly uncertain about your decisions 

But perhaps you’re not feeling stressed, easily frustrated, or disengaged; instead, you desire more control over your emotions throughout the day to maintain more peace and balance, then emotional detoxing is still for you. 

Here’s how you can start your emotional detox today!   

1 – Reflect and Journal Your Emotions 

How are you doing today? I don’t mean that in a superficial way most of us have been asked in the past. I mean, how are you really feeling today? Getting more in-tuned with your current thoughts and feelings is the first step towards your emotional detox. One of the best ways to do so is to write them down during or after times of anger, stress, or frustration. Begin by checking in with yourself daily with a question. 

  • Are my emotions fluctuating drastically throughout the day?
  • Am I quick to jump to anger rather than understanding?
  • What is it that’s upsetting me?

From here you can jot down some notes that stem from the question. Continue writing your thoughts until you get deeper down into the root of the problem. This exercise may surprise you to realize that the trigger is something you never expected. Once you understand the problem more clearly, you can now begin to work towards a resolution. 

 2 – Be Mindful of Your Ongoing Negative Emotions

In conjunction with the first step of reflecting and understanding your emotions (positive and negative), this section focuses solely on the recurring negative emotions. The goal is to free yourself from the dreaded overthinking spiral of negative thoughts that may be running through your mind over and over, day in and day out. 

  1. Identify the negative emotions

First and foremost, you need to identify and acknowledge the negative emotion and what it means to you. Following the first exercise of journaling, this step will be much easier for you to do. For example, if you’re angry at a friend you can mentally tell yourself that you acknowledge you’re upset for what they did. 

  1. Accept it for what it is

Once you address the negative emotion you need to move towards accepting it for what it is. At this time, you can say to yourself “I accept that I’m experiencing anger from what my friend did”. Remember, the only person you need to reason with is yourself – no one will argue your point of view.

By accepting the fate of these emotions you give yourself some peace by allowing these feelings to take over. You’re responding to your own distress, frustration, and anger by simply accepting it for what it is. It’s almost like you’re giving yourself a safe space to feel what you need to feel at this time – that’s incredibly powerful! 

It’s important to avoid feeling guilt or to try to reason with any other emotion that tries to take over you at this time. Live in the present and embrace your emotions for what they are. Find comfort in the discomfort. 

  1. Realize the impermanence of this emotion

Once you’ve given yourself the space to embrace your emotions, you need to acknowledge the fact that all the thoughts and feelings you’re experiencing are impermanent. Emotions come in waves, allow them to come and go while still recognizing that they will never consume you. Giving yourself the freedom to let them take over your mindset is your choice. 

Become more mindful about these emotions as mental events simply passing through your awareness; giving less power to the emotions themselves and more power to your comprehension of them. Although emotions are difficult to stabilize, they are always temporary.

  1. Choose the appropriate response to this emotion

This brings us to the final step in recognizing and addressing negative emotions: choosing the right response. After taking the time and opening up more space to comprehend your emotions, you’re now calm enough to provide a level-headed response. 

Once you arrive at this stage of your emotional detox, you have a much more rational outlook on the issue to begin with. Although originally the thought may have created tension in yourself by making you feel like you need to either suppress the thoughts and move on or cause an outburst to get your point across; you are now more at peace with the circumstances. 

Your response is your choice. That could mean that simply embracing the emotion is all you really need to do to feel better, or it could mean that a conversation is needed to be discussed between you and your friend. Either way, the choice is yours. Remember, their reaction to your response is only a reflection of themselves and you can’t control that.

3 – Forgive Yourself and Others

Reacting to the people around you might feel good in the moment, but as time goes on you’ll be doing yourself more harm than good. If you proceed to feel anger, frustration, or a sense of unjust for the wrongdoings of this person, you will carry this emotional baggage with you for as long as you hold onto these emotions. 

Instead, you should work towards forgiving the person and yourself. Of course, it’s easier said than done. The first step towards reaching a state of peace and balance is to change your mindset for your purpose of forgiving. You are not forgiving this person because you’re accepting their actions towards you. Instead, you’re forgiving to let go of the resentment and the hurt that you’re currently feeling. You’re choosing to be happy and to let go of the emotional baggage. Find the compassion within yourself to forgive and move forward, you will feel lighter when you do so! 

4 – Celebrate the Small Wins 

Feeling good at times can be a small victory to many of us during times of stress and uncertainty. It’s incredibly beneficial to give in to the good emotions you’re feeling at the time. Many people feel guilty during the difficult times in life, feeling like they shouldn’t be happy when everything and everyone around them is telling them otherwise. But when you don’t give in to the good emotions, you’re robbing yourself of the happiness you deserve to feel. 

One study found that acknowledging the small wins every day enhanced motivation. Simply recording this progress helped to boost the self-confidence of numerous individuals. This is important for your emotional detox as it helps train your mindset to continue celebrating the little things that go well throughout your day. 

5 – Spend More Time on the Good Stuff 

Finally, you’ve made it to the final step to gain a well-rounded emotional detox: spending more time doing the things that excite you! Throughout these exercises, you’ve learned how to give in to your emotions, positive or negative, in order to overcome them and move forward. By doing so you have more time and energy that you can spend on the activities that bring you joy.

Laugh with your friends, exercise your body, enjoy that ice cream, and simply get out of your head. Often, the activities that bring us the most happiness have nothing to do with ourselves. Giving back to your community through volunteer work can be equally, if not more beneficial than anything else. Shifting your focus away from yourself puts your problems into perspective. 

Whatever it is, you need to get outside of yourself to truly and fully heal. 

Bringing It All Together

In a world where we are consumed with physical methods of detoxification, such as exercising, proper nutrition, hydration, and supplementation, many of us missed the mark on how to detox in other ways. Emotional detoxing is a powerful way to create more inner peace, allowing yourself to grow in a more positive direction in life. Understanding your emotions better will provide more insight into yourself, as well as those around you. Reflect and journal your thoughts, become more mindful of the negative emotions, forgive yourself and others always, celebrate all the small wins in your day, and spend more time on the things that bring you joy! 

You are not your emotions, your anger, your fear, or your pain. You’re much greater than that. Give yourself the opportunity to acknowledge that! 

Author Biography: 

Taylor is a self-motivated, active individual always in search of the next big adventure. Her expertise in sports, exercise science, and nutrition allows her to take on a wholesome approach to health and wellness. She’s passionate about promoting mental health in the pursuit to reduce its stigma in the community. She hopes to become a health coach and spread more awareness about the complexities of anxiety-based disorders. Check out her website here for more information or to collaborate!

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