By Rosemary Ann Ogilvie
Q: I feel a bit jaded after an amazing summer. Can you recommend a quick pick-me-up?
A mini detox may be just what you need – and before you form visions of days without so much as a morsel passing your lips: this body detox is very gentle.
However, before we go any further, there is one caution: if you’re being treated for any medical condition, be sure to consult a qualified nutritionist or naturopath before starting on any detox program, even one as mild as this.
While not everyone agrees with the idea that periodic detoxification is necessary to give the liver a rest and clear accumulated toxins from the cells, there's no denying that the practice – in the form of fasting – has been part of many traditional cultures for centuries.
Rigid detox regimes that involve fasting for many days are too extreme for most people, and indeed can be quite dangerous: today's hectic lifestyle demands huge amounts of energy and food, of course, fuels that energy.
However, a relatively painless one-to-three day fast can be incredibly revitalising, and even allow you to shed a couple of kilos.
It’s as simple as this:
- Drink a glass of warm water with the juice of half a lemon (optional) when you wake up.
- Nibble on raw vegetables and two servings of fruit for the rest of the day.
- For dinner, have a plate of steamed non-starchy vegetables seasoned with herbs, spices and lemon juice.
- Drink plenty of water and herbal teas throughout the day. If you're a habitual coffee drinker, chances are you'll develop a headache from the caffeine withdrawal, so choose a time when you don't need to be at your peak mentally.
In the evenings, take a long, relaxing bath. While the bath is filling, spend five minutes dry brushing your skin to stimulate the lymphatic system and promote the expulsion of toxins. It also leaves the skin glowing, and may help break down cellulite.
Using a natural bristle brush with a long handle, brush completely dry skin starting at the bottom of your body and work upwards. Brush the soles of your feet first, then your legs – calves and shins – using long, smooth strokes. Continue moving up towards the groin area, then over the buttocks, up to the middle back, over the stomach in a circular motion to stimulate the colon, up to the armpits, across the shoulders and over the chest, without brushing the nipples. Brush upwards along the back of the neck and gently over the throat.
Ideally, schedule a lymphatic-drainage massage during your detox to enhance the effects. If you're up to it, do some gentle stretching or yoga as well.
During your detox, look closely at your diet and lifestyle habits and identify areas where they could be improved. Set a goal to eat foods as close to nature as possible, and ideally organically grown:
- Fresh vegetables and fruit
- Omega-3-rich oils such as extra virgin olive
- Oily cold-water fish
- Free-range eggs
- Low-fat dairy products if you can tolerate them
- Small amounts of good-quality meat and chicken.
Additionally, resolve to exercise regularly if you’re not currently doing this.
One of the most liberating and energising things you can do is to release toxic emotions. It's even possible that clearing these emotions may also clear pain in areas where those emotions are stored, notably the neck and shoulders.
If you're holding onto anger, hurt, resentment, jealousy or regret relating to an incident, consider writing a letter to the person involved – but don't send it to them: instead, delete it or shred it. If you feel you need to go through the act of sending it to get it out of your system, email or snail mail it to yourself.
Don't allow resentments to build up in relationships, whether work or personal. Deal with things as they happen: always take responsibility for your feelings, and avoid saying anything you may regret later.
Limit the time you spend with toxic people who drain the life out of you, for life is too short to waste on them. Granted, this can be difficult when they're family or work colleagues, but make a point of not accepting every invitation, and keep your visits brief when you do accept. On the other hand, aim to spend more time with people who enrich your life.
Be aware of the effect television news and current affairs shows have on you, especially at times like these when so many bad things are happening. They can easily cause you to sink into a morass of negativity.
Use brief meditations during the day to stay calm and centred. Many people find meditation difficult, that quieting an over-active mind is almost impossible. Ease into meditation slowly, aiming for just a few minutes to start with. Sit comfortably where you won't be disturbed and ideally have something you can focus on, such as a candle, a flower, a picture or an ornament. Breathe slowly and deeply, focussing your attention on the object. When your mind wanders, gently bring your focus back to the object. Persevere, for you'll come to value the calming benefits these mini meditation breaks can bring.