You’ve started hearing carols on the radio. You’ve seen twinkly lights around the neighbourhood. Maybe you’ve even decorated your tree. Yes, friends, the holiday season has officially arrived – the most wonderful, magical, stressful time of the year.
During these hectic couple months, we’re often so busy doing thoughtful things for loved ones that we forget to take care of ourselves. By the time the New Year arrives, we’re completely depleted of energy. We vow to eat more vegetables and start going to the gym again. But what if I told you there was a different resolution you could make to help you feel happier, less stressed, and more energized?
That resolution is called an ‘emotional detox.’ If you’ve never heard this term, allow me to elaborate…
Everyone needs to hit the ‘refresh’ button on his or her relationships from time to time. Living well isn’t just about eating whole foods. It’s about nurturing healthy lifestyle habits. It’s about finding outlets to express your creativity. And it’s about cultivating relationships that help you thrive.
To clarify, an emotional detox does not require abstaining from all emotions for a week! This detox is about ‘cleansing’ your relationships – with your family, friends, partner, colleagues, and yourself. This is no 3-day juice cleanse. Not even a 30-day liver detox. We develop the best relationships in much the same ways that we establish good eating habits or strengthen a muscle: with time, practice and perseverance. This is an ongoing work-in-progress, and I assure you the benefits over time are immeasurable. Here are a few ideas on how to get started:
Spend your time and energy on people who lift you up, inspire you, and make you happy.
Invest in those relationships and let go of those that are not serving you. You may have heard this famous quote by motivational speaker Jim Rohn: “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Choose to associate yourself with more people who push you to be better. Create space between those who bring you down.
Earlier this year, a study made headlines claiming to reveal the secret to lasting relationships (Barton et al, 2015). That secret? Saying “thank you.” Start a gratitude jar or journal. Take a few moments each day to write down something or someone you’re grateful for. This practice helps you keep things in perspective, especially after a particularly tough day. I strongly encourage you to read what you’ve written – and share them with your loved ones! Sorting through notes from an overflowing gratitude jar with your favourite person is a truly heartwarming experience.
Practice saying ‘no.’
Many of us have a tendency to accept every invitation, say ‘yes’ to every opportunity and end up overcommitting ourselves because we don’t want to let others down. Here’s the thing about that – we end up stretching ourselves way too thin, get stressed out, and either bail on our commitments or end up resenting them. Every time I start feeling like I’m overbooking myself, I remember this piece of advice I’ve heard many times over: “Say ‘no’ to good, so you can say ‘yes’ to great!”
Give what you want to receive.
This one is taken directly from one of my favourite inspirational blogs, Marc and Angel Hack Life: “Don’t expect what you are not willing to give. Start practicing the golden rule. If you want love, give love. If you want friends, be friendly. If you want money, provide value. It works. It really is this simple.”
If you’ve been holding a grudge, feeling anger or resentment towards someone, forgive them. Not for their sake, but for yours. More Marc and Angel words of wisdom: “Forgiveness is not saying, “What you did to me is okay.” It is saying, “I’m not going to let what you did to me ruin my happiness forever.” It doesn’t mean you’re erasing the past, or forgetting what happened. It means you’re letting go of the resentment and pain, and instead choosing to learn from the incident and move on with your life.”
I’ll leave you with this thought:
You can eat nothing but clean whole foods, exercise daily, and achieve career success. You can work super hard to build a healthy body from the inside out. But if you’re feeling emotionally drained on a regular basis, you aren’t as healthy as you could be. Put yourself first this holiday season – eat your greens, go for a walk, and remember these emotional detox tips!
Barton, A.W., Furtis, T.G. and Nielsen, R.B. 2015. Linking financial distress to marital quality: The intermediary roles of demand/withdraw and spousal gratitude expressions. Personal Relationships, 22: 536-549