How to Deal With Difficult Emotions During a Cleanse

Cleansing the body is one of the most important things we can do for our long-term health and vitality.  As we take on a healthy lifestyle, the detox and cleansing process that comes with dietary changes often allows us to purge the mind of toxins as well.

It happens without us realizing it!

Simply changing the foods that we normally consume to pure, unprocessed whole foods or doing a juice cleanse can evoke intense internal changes.  

The release that occurs not only has physical implications but can have a strong emotional aspect too. All of our experiences in life are accompanied by emotions that are typically categorized in our minds as good or bad, or a variation of the two. During a cleanse, deep-seated emotions come to the surface as a way for us to first honor them and then process and let them go. Although these emotions are difficult when they arise, the livity that occurs after their release is exhilarating!

How to Deal With Difficult Emotions During a Cleanse

As we age, we are sometimes unaware of the effects that stress has on our emotions until we get feedback from friends, family, or helpers in the healing arts. A massage therapist might say how tight your neck muscles are or a friend might comment on how deep the furrow in your brow has become. You might even wake up every morning with jaw tension from clenching the night before. In other words, the effects of stress are gradual and can build up for years in certain areas of the body.  


The ritual of periodic cleansing purifies and rejuvenates our cells. Our liver, kidneys, skin, and intestinal tract get a break from their roles in digestion, assimilation, and detoxification as we consume pure, unadulterated foods. These organs are then greatly enhanced in their ability to keep us alive and well!


During a cleanse, we are able to break bad habits by way of disciplined eating. Many toxins we consume are the results of unhealthy habits that are emotion-based, such as binge eating or fast food consumption. Over-eating may satiate the emotional aspect of feeling lonely or bored but fulfilling a never-ending hunger that is usually psychological rather than physical in nature can cause weight gain and illness over time. Consuming too much sugar or carbohydrates due to our unrecognized emotional state is a common problem we face when we don’t realize just how depleted we are feeling in spirit.


How Do We Deal With Hidden Emotions?  

Most of my patients are aware of the basic physical aspects of cleansing, such as a headache when they quit caffeine and sugar. These symptoms of withdrawal typically last 2 days and can be very intense depending on the degree to which they indulge in unhealthy foods. In other words, the worse your diet is when going into a cleanse, the worse your initial symptoms may be!

Some of the effects you will endure will be physical and others will be emotional in nature. With a new, clean eating pattern, emotions can emerge out of nowhere and range from anger and irritability to depression and fear. These are completely normal things to experience during a cleanse and my best advice to you is to stick with it, even as the going gets tough! Your mood will come into equilibrium again and the happy and light-hearted emotions will follow.


Ways to Care for Yourself While Cleansing

1. Emotional Awareness

If we are faced with an obstacle it is much easier if we know it’s coming, right?  Knowing there will be emotions to confront as cravings occur, or frustration from dining out with limited menu options means we handle them better with an action plan. Preparedness such as having some cut vegetables or fruit and seed based nutrition bar on hand at all times can help mitigate the drop in blood sugar and moodiness that occurs.  Having these snacks on hand will satiate the hand to mouth movement, add some sweet or crunchy texture, and fulfill actual hunger. Also, remember that drinking water helps tremendously when it comes to satiating cravings and hunger!

Planning out alternatives to your regular favorite coffee or lunch item will aid your success too. Instead of having a Chai latte with dairy milk in the morning, switch to coconut milk and bring your own stevia or monkfruit sweetener. This way you don’t feel deprived and you are sticking to your detox plan. Remember that discipline equals freedom!


2.  Honor Your Feelings to  Embrace the Release

As you discharge buried emotions, let yourself know ahead of time that it is alright to cry.  Emotions ebb and flow regularly and to honor this is one of the best self-care practices you can develop.  When you are purposefully getting toxic build-up out of your body, an emotional release will likely occur. Embrace how you feel at any given moment. If you want to scream - do it in the car by yourself so negative energy is released but not projected onto others. If you get the urge to cry, do so and make accommodations to honor your feelings if you are in public. Our emotions do not define us as individuals, they are fleeting as they come and go. Realize that and accept it as a healthy part of the process. Be a curious observer of your changing emotions and don’t judge yourself for the feelings as you let go.  

3.  The Right Support System Includes Yourself  

I always advise my patients to inform their family and friends about the decision to embark on a cleanse. If you are a parent, it is important to let your spouse and children know that you are taking some time off for yourself. It is not enough to have mediocre acquaintances to lean on as you go through this transformative process. Having the right support is crucial to remind you of how cleansing benefits your life, how far you have come each day, and to how you are becoming the best version of yourself. You don’t need a large circle of people, a few good friends or a supportive partner that can be relied on is enough. You should go easy on yourself in this process.


4. Self Care Rituals Rule

Consider the following self-care practices to help you coast through the emotional clearing process:

  • Focus on your breath. Deep breathing, especially the type that focuses on an extended out breath, will help calm your nervous system and energize your cells. This practice will also diminish muscle tension and help you overcome addictive patterns of behavior.  Deep breathing also ignites focus, creativity, and passion.

  • Stay active with things you enjoy such as yoga, pilates, nature hikes, journaling, or doing art. This will help you maintain your happiness and focus and stay true to who you want to become.

  • Kick your shoes off and practice grounding. Walking barefoot in the forest or on the beach helps your body absorb negative ions which can help balance your energy and enhance feelings of well-being.

  • Seek out care from allied professionals. This is the perfect time for alternative healing modalities like Reiki, EFT, hypnotherapy, and Theta healing. You’re in a more vulnerable state when you’re healing during a cleanse and thus able to access altered states of consciousness more easily. These practices can lend to your expansion and transformation as you let go.  

The cleansing process is not always easy but with these important tips to help you navigate the intense emotions, you will be ready for what arises. Begin the process with reverence for yourself and your body and maintain a state of curiosity for what emerges as you move through each day!


With love,

Dr. Marissa

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