Detoxing the Body and Soul is an important aspect of living a fulfilling, joyful life.
Spring has long been associated with renewal and rejuvenation, so it’s no wonder cleanses and body detoxification programs are popular this time of year. For some people, an expanded waistline is an unfortunate reminder they may have overindulged on food and drink during the winter and holiday months; for others, sluggishness and a general sense of feeling “icky” may be all the motivation they need to hit the detox juice. Whatever the reason, dietary cleanses can be a worthwhile way to recalibrate ourselves. A good detox purges the body of gunk, leaving it squeaky clean and primed for healthy dietary habits. And with summer’s shorter hemlines and longer days fast approaching, what better time than spring to get back to looking and feeling our best?
I’ve been detoxing twice a year for a couple of years now, but it wasn’t until I was about to do my annual spring cleanse recently that I realized I needed to detox more than just my body. I had this epiphany while I was on scrolling on Facebook one day. While in many respects a reliable and convenient source for news and information, social media can also be a rabbit hole of toxicity. I’ve often wondered if staying connected to friends and loved ones through social media, or even using it to voice my own opinions and musings, is worth being exposed to the negative aspects of the medium. It seems every time I log on, I’m either scrolling through click bait to get to relevant news items, or seeing post after post about something truly awful someone has done to someone or something else. Don’t even get me started on the venomous comment threads. My blood pressure rises just thinking about how people treat each other on-line. Exposure to all this negativity can’t be healthy.
Another source of toxicity for me, I realized, was television—the news cycle and entertainment programming in particular. The news is filled with, well, bad news, especially when it comes to reporting on politics and social issues. I know it’s important to stay informed, but sometimes it can be so overwhelming. And although I enjoy watching entertainment television—and even binge-watching entire seasons of shows—I realized I’d gotten less discerning about the type of shows I was ingesting. Increasingly dependent on the screen to amuse me, I would settle in front of the T.V. and click through my streaming apps and hundreds of channels just because I could. It’s like mindlessly eating potato chips only to look up and realize you just ate the entire bag. Even more troubling is the fact that the things that make certain television shows fun to watch are the very same things that can make them a font of negativity: petty drama, superficial themes, depictions of violence, and obsession with materialism and excess. Although I don’t think everything I watch should be highbrow or intellectually stimulating, I do believe in moderation. Along with my social media consumption, my television viewing habits were definitely out of whack, and just as lacking in nourishment for my soul as empty calories were for my body. I decided I needed more than just a dietary cleanse; I needed a body and soul cleanse—a total detox from negativity.
For a week before the cleanse, I pumped myself up by thinking not only about how great I was going to feel afterward but also about how clear my mind was going to be. Who knew, I might even gain a few IQ points since I’d be replacing all those hours of empty television calories with significantly more reading, podcasts, and Duolingo than usual. To prep myself, I downloaded podcasts with educational, light-hearted, or inspirational subject matter (i.e., no politics or social issues!) and made sure I had lots of quality reading material on hand. As for my body cleansing regimen, I decided on three days of nothing but fresh fruit and vegetable juice, followed by four days of raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Added sugar, alcohol, salt, and caffeine were not allowed. I researched juice concoctions, read articles about juice fasting, downloaded raw food recipes, and repeated the phrase: It’s only a week…it’s only a week.
By the morning of Day 2, I knew one thing for sure: I didn’t want to see another bottle of juice. The juices were actually delicious, so it wasn’t as though it was unpleasant to consume them. My distaste was completely psychological. Knowing I was only permitted raw juice made me want chewable food even more. I’d survived Day 1, but I still had two days of juicing to go. I drew myself an Epsom salt bath (great for detoxing) and reminded myself of how good I would feel post-cleanse.
Surprisingly, although I thought about the food I was depriving myself of, my thoughts rarely turned to the television and social media I was missing. I never opened Twitter and only used Facebook to schedule an event on my writing group’s page. I had no desire whatsoever to scroll through my News Feed. I enjoyed having my head in the sand, if only for a few days. Besides, if anything happened in the world that I really needed to know, I could rely on my husband to tell me about it. Instead of the FOMO I’d expected, I had absolutely no fear of missing out. I actually loved missing out. LOMO! It felt great not having to watch people arguing on reality shows and news programs or insulting each other on social media. Apart from the occasional headline popping up on my iPhone notifications—which I didn’t click on—I knew little about the atrocities happening in the world. And because I was also cleansing myself of toxic thoughts, talk, and actions, I felt better mentally than I had in months.
I glugged my last juice on Day 3, excited about all the fresh fruits and vegetables I would be able to eat (eat being the key word) for the remainder of the cleanse. How crunchy and satisfying an apple with freshly ground almond butter was going to be! How divine broccoli drizzled with homemade peanut and sesame seed dressing would taste! I was only limited by my imagination when it came to the many ways I could enjoy my raw diet.
The next two days were a cinch, although—full disclosure—I cut the cleanse from seven to five days because of an unexpected opportunity to attend the Kentucky Derby on what would have been Day 6. What’s Derby without a mint julep? Still, five days of body and soul cleansing had me feeling marvelous, so marvelous in fact, when I got home from Derby, I picked back up with my raw diet for a few days to make up for the time I’d missed.
It’s now almost two weeks post-cleanse. My body still feels cleaner and revitalized, and my outlook on life, in general, is more positive. Although I’ve returned to social media and television, I’m absorbing less negativity by limiting my television viewing and choosing more carefully what I elect to read and share on-line.
The body and soul cleanse helped me reset my dietary habits, shed a couple of pounds, and increase my energy and focus, but it was my abstention from toxicity on social media and television that proved most rewarding. In fact, I’ve decided to incorporate a soul-only detox on a regular basis by avoiding television and social media for a week once each month.
I’m calling it a soulFULL cleanse.
Joi Maria is an author, writer, and blogger of fiction and non-fiction stories. Her work is featured in the anthology, Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health, and Society. She is also the co-founder of Write Inside the Loop, a group for Houston-area fiction writers. You can read her latest works on her website, www.joimaria.com.