Mind & Body

How to identify if you need a mental detox


We read a lot about how to physically detox as the guilt sets in over excessive food and alcohol consumption, especially during the festive season or living in lockdown. However, what many overlook and may produce longer-lasting health and wellbeing benefits is a ‘mental detox.’  

It’s estimated that our minds run tens of thousands of thoughts per day and neuroscience has revealed that we spend an average of 95% of this time in the subconscious mind. This means we are unconsciously operating on ‘auto-pilot mode’ most of the day and not even fully aware of the quality of our thoughts and how they may be impacting us physically, emotionally, and energetically.

By detoxing our overactive minds, we can start to clear the ‘unhealthy’ thoughts and beliefs which influence our behaviour. With 2021 already in full flight, now has never been a better time.

What a mental detox is and why is it important?

Mental detoxing is the process of clearing and cleansing the negative, unuseful and unconscious thinking that impacts our mental, physical, emotional and energetic wellbeing.

When we mentally detox, we have the ability to clear decades of ‘toxic’ thinking that can develop as far back as childhood, so we’re not carrying the outdated beliefs, values, preferences, memories, etc. of our seven-year-old selves.

You may have heard the common phrase, ‘energy flows where attention goes’. If our attention is focused on our unhealthy thoughts, we can feel not only drained mentally but also physically.

However, as we start to clear and release our toxic thinking, we create headspace to access more of the good stuff like clarity, self-love and compassion, confidence, and a deeper connection to ourselves and those around us.

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How to identify if you need a mental detox

Our minds are wired to judge and evaluate what’s right, wrong, good or bad, holding onto painful memories of the past, or fears of the future. This means anyone could benefit from a mental detox if they are ready for it.

When we’re feeling ‘mind-full’ we may experience a limited and negative perspective about ourselves and others, distract ourselves with unhealthy beliefs and behaviours or experience increased levels of stress or anxiety.

If you answer yes to any of the below, then you could benefit from a mental detox.

  • Are negative thoughts running out of control? Do you have a pattern of judging and criticising yourself that often leads to stress, overwhelm, or anxiety?
  • Are you emotionally constipated? Are you holding certain emotions such as sadness or guilt or suppressing others such as joy or love, which leaves you feeling stuck, distracted and unable to move forward in life?
  • Are you feeling creatively blocked? Is low self-esteem or self-doubt getting in the way of you doing or creating things you love impacting your passion and performance in life?
  • Are you experiencing explosive, reactive behaviour? Are you struggling to communicate and connect with yourself or others because of unuseful states such as anger, frustration, or fear?

So, what’s next?

These five simple steps can help kickstart your mental detox.

1. Reveal your truth

Developing self-awareness by addressing the thoughts and beliefs running us allows us to wake up from ‘autopilot mode’.

As you start to witness your thoughts (without judgment) ask yourself the following questions; Is this really true? Where did I learn this? How is thinking this serving me?

2. Accept resistance

As Carl Jung famously said, “What we resist, persists,” meaning, as we carry the weight of our worries around with us, unresolved thoughts and feelings build up in our system and keep us stuck in our old ways.

Accept that resistance may arise and it’s part of the process. Setting a clear intention for why this is important to you, will help keep you committed to your detox.

3. Release negative thoughts and emotions

Acknowledge and allow – without resistance – any physical sensations and feelings to arise as you become aware of your thoughts and emotions. It helps to know that emotions are energy-in-motion and will pass.

4. Refuel by being present

We waste a lot of time and energy by losing ourselves in our over-active mind. Practising presence helps us redirect our focus and energy back to the moment.

Try focusing on slow deep breaths and your five senses; what can I see, hear, smell, touch, taste?

5. Reset and count the positives

When we aren’t ‘mind-full’, life feels lighter and more effortless.

From this space, start to practice re-wiring your brain to explore the positives in you, the learnings in your situations, best case scenarios, opportunities and the possibilities of being You.

And remember, whilst mental detoxing can produce instant results, clearing and cleansing years if not decades of outdated beliefs and behaviour is a gradual process, so count the small wins and enjoy the process along the way.

Frances Frey offers an integrated approach to self-development, working with individuals and collectives across the globe as a Developmental Leadership Coach, Master NLP Practitioner and Reiki healer, to help people uncover their potential in life, love, and leadership.