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Detoxing After the Holidays

Jan/21/2022 / by Sweta Vikram

Whether you are spending it alone or with friends/family, the holidays and end-of-year festivities can create an upheaval in how we eat, sleep, and live. That’s life, and it’s important to create these memories too. But we don’t need to continue with the I-can-do-whatever attitude. Yes, we’re talking about a detox!

Getting back on track takes a whole lot of commitment if you want to live a balanced lifestyle. It would mean revamping your pantry, mindset, and schedule. Achieving a lifestyle where you are filled with vitality, energy, inspiration, and desire takes strategy, sense of purpose, and getting rid of your limiting beliefs. It means being better than your excuses and recalibrating how you eat, sleep, behave, and navigate the world.

The New Year and new month are a great time to make some long-lasting behavioral shifts … starting with a detox. I am not talking about drinking five glasses of green juice and counting down days when you can start drinking alcohol again. Or, doing a keto diet for three weeks, so you can feast on biryani by the end of the month.

Detoxification includes cleansing your mind, body, and spirit. It also means choosing a lifestyle that will transform your overall wellness, relationships, and productivity.

1. Take intentional breaks from social media

Research tells us that excessive and compulsive social media usage is linked to depression, anxiety, insomnia, and low self-esteem, among other health issues. If we don’t learn to take care of ourselves, pause every now and then, and stop refreshing our feeds constantly, poor mental health is inevitable. I know of people who have felt depressed after spending unnecessary amounts of time on social media.

While many of us sheltered-in-place during the holiday season because Omicron wreaked havoc; others might have traveled or partied and shared those moments on socials. Your mind can think, “Did everyone have a good time but me?” If you have an unpleasant relationship with your family, how can pictures of someone’s “perfect” family gatherings (We all know that social media shares include a projected version of people’s lives) not upset you? Why do you want to get riled up or include any negativity in your life?

The groundwork for all happiness is good health.

Leigh Hunt

2. Give your digestion a break

Holidays mean mindless eating for a large majority of people. Honestly, we South Asians are obsessed with food. One of my pet peeves is people forcing me to eat even though I’m neither shy nor starve myself. We use food to reward, punish, mourn, and celebrate. We are trained to lean on food in an unhealthy way even though diabetes and heart diseases are rampant in our community.

Ask your doctor if you can fast occasionally, so your digestive system gets a break. Clean out your pantry. Stop snacking because that spikes your insulin. Start enjoying your meals at a deeper level: No work. No noise. No arguments. Sit down to eat each meal. The environment should be just as nourishing as your food. Eat slowly, and with love. The faster you eat, the less time your brain has to process that it’s full. Especially after spending 2-3 weeks feasting on more food than you’re used to, it will take some time adjusting to more reasonable portions, and a non-party menu. Don’t find some crazy fad diet. Don’t judge yourself if you fall off the wagon. The important thing here is to not repeat bad choices (e.g. cupcakes for breakfast) and make them a pattern.

3. Meditate to quieten the mind

From an Ayurvedic perspective, excessive talking, traveling, watching too much TV, eating & drinking erratically, sleeping at odd hours can all increase vata dosha. Vitiated vata can create a surge in anxiety, sleeplessness, constipation, as well as nervousness. Meditation can help lower vata and lessen the mind chatter. It can also protect your energy. Meditation can create happiness. That happiness comes from self-acceptance. Meditation can literally change your brain. Set an alarm, so the monkey-brain doesn’t keep nagging, “Are we done yet?” Close your eyes and focus on your breath. You can sit or lie down. Thoughts will arise. Don’t judge them. Don’t question any feelings. Just observe. Every time that your mind wanders, bring it back to the breath. Do this for 10 minutes every day.

meditation is a good way of detoxing after holidays

4. Get your sleep hygiene on track

The one thing most CEOs have in common is that they go to bed at the same time most days of the week and wake up before the crack of dawn. Our body replenishes and recharges when we sleep. Sleep strengthens our immunity and helps fight infections. Not getting enough sleep may lead to accidents, work mishaps, lowered productivity in the short-term along with irritability and impatience. Too little sleep can also leave you feeling tired to do the things you enjoy doing — be it in your personal life or professional life. But many people underestimate the power of sleep. Shift your mindset in the new year and get about 7-8 hours of sleep every night.

Sleep deficiency is linked to many health conditions such as increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease, diabetes, stroke, and more. In one study, people sleeping less than six hours per night had a 20 percent higher chance of a heart attack. Also, get into bed before 10 p.m.

5. Curate your environment

Spend time with people who are on a similar journey or are at least like-minded. You shouldn’t sabotage your healthy lifestyle for those who don’t get why you make certain choices. It sounds cold, but people who derail you from your healthy habits, limit your interactions with them. Those who have a negative mindset will always faults in anything new that you want to try. The ones who suggest that you pick pakodas over Pilates, you know what to do. Somehow, they feel that your health or weight loss or success at work or happy marriage reflects their failures. Avoid such people like the bubonic plague. Be proactive in surrounding yourself with folks who enable your decision to lead a mindful life. You have the power to create your own reality. Don’t let your — or other people’s —limiting beliefs stop you.

It might not be easy to do a detox after a few weeks of indulgence. Every time you feel distracted or torn away from your goal, ask yourself one question: Do you value the idea of being stuck in life or your ability to move forward? Remind yourself that without mental-emotional-physical wellness in place, there is no success.“