Hello, friends! Thanks for dropping in. I hope you’re all staying safe and enjoying your week. Today, I want to talk about something a little more personal. Since we’ve all been in quarantine with little to do, I’ve been on yet another introspective journey to detox my life, heal from past trauma, and fall in love with myself. Hopefully, some of my experiences will resonate with you and maybe even help you on your own path.
When I abruptly and unexpectedly returned from Japan to the States a few months ago, I was hit with a brutal reality check. I didn’t have a job or future plan, the economy was a disaster, and most cities were on lockdown. It was scary. And if that wasn’t awful enough, racism and police brutality continued to divide the nation. Everything felt completely out of control, and my depression and anxiety came back with a vengeance. Even though I had plans to be productive and make the best of a bad situation, I was overwhelmed with stress and shut down. On good days, I submitted job applications, cooked, and spent time with loved ones (while wearing our masks of course.) This helped a lot, but my moods were still all over the place.
Most of the time, I either felt completely hopeless or on the verge of a panic attack. Some days were ok, but then I’d see something on the news or social media and lose it. Isolation certainly didn’t help either. I experienced guilt and shame for my erratic emotions when I knew that millions of people were dying by violent acts of racism and a deadly virus we still know next to nothing about. My brain would spiral out of control with worry and self-loathing and then chastise me for it. How do you still not have a job? You’re gaining weight again. You’re a financial burden on your family. You don’t have it that bad. Be grateful for what you have. Stop complaining, you’re pathetic. I thought I was picking myself up by the bootstraps and getting a grip on things, but in reality I was beating myself down and destroying the confidence I worked so hard to build while living abroad. At the end of even a good day, I still felt broken and lost.
Something needed to change. Eventually, I knew I had to get help. I went to the doctor to test my hormones and rule out any physical illnesses. Fortunately, everything returned normal, so I got a referral to see a psychologist. While waiting for an appointment, I decided to actively focus on myself and get back into practicing self-care. I couldn’t control anything around me, but I could control my actions.
Quarantine really forced me to re-evaluate my goals and figure out what I wanted and didn’t want in life. As I took a closer look at some of my habits, I was surprised by how many ‘toxins’ I was allowing to drag me down. Once I began to eliminate more of the bad and add more of the good, I felt lighter and freer to focus on my growth and recovery. This wasn’t the first time I’d worked on myself, but I knew I needed to do more. It wasn’t easy, but by detoxing my life, I was able to start processing my trauma instead of suppressing it. This is crucial because if we don’t do this, we can never move forward, and we will constantly repeat the same, tired mistakes again and again. Old habits die hard after all.
I realized most of my negative choices were influenced by difficult past events—and these choices became unhealthy coping mechanisms serving as a diversion from dealing with my deeper problems. I thought I’d successfully worked through a lot of my issues, but new trauma often triggers the old, forgotten wounds we put bandaids on and left to fester. Although I am still on the wait list to receive professional guidance, I’ve begun to help myself, and that is the first step to getting better. Growing up is a never ending process, and everyone handles their emotions, trauma, and baggage differently. Despite my mistakes (I’m only human after all), I’m already so proud of how far I’ve made it in the last few years. I can’t wait to see where I am a few years from now.
Lately, I’ve tried to detox my life so I can focus on healing and growth. I had quite a few vices, and eliminating/reducing them has helped me significantly on my journey. Here are five very important things to assess in our lives anytime we need to put our health first:
- Social media– If you’re like I was, you’re probably addicted to checking all your profiles. I could waste hours on various sites and read five or six news articles easily just while in the bathroom. I was spending so much time on social media, and I noticed I always felt worse about myself after a long scroll. Unconsciously, I was unfairly comparing my life to both people I knew and hot-shot influencers who seemed to have it all. People only share the good on social media; it’s hard to remember real life isn’t quite so glamorous. On top of that, I was suckered into purchasing unnecessary products that promised things like weight loss and longer hair. My social media use wasn’t healthy at all. I decided to delete all my apps and go cold turkey. If I wanted to log on, I’d have to use my computer instead. This drastically reduced the time I spent online, and I was surprised by how much of a difference it made in my life. I’ve been more productive, felt more confident, and had more personal interactions with friends. Try deleting for a week and see how you feel. If you don’t think you can fully let go of Instagram or TikTok, most phones allow you to limit your use of certain apps to a few hours a day.
- Alcohol– As a junior and senior in college (and even a recent grad) I drank a lot. That’s what everyone else around me was doing, and it was fun. I liked going out and dancing with friends. The buzz I got from a drink or two made me more social and less anxious about what others thought of me. But things started getting out of control when I began using alcohol as an escape from my problems. After my loved ones approached me with genuine concern for my well-being, I knew I needed to cut back big time. I still have a drink or two occasionally, but alcohol is not a regular part of my life anymore. Although I came to this realization over a year ago, I’ve had to consciously keep myself in check because I used to drink as a coping mechanism, and that’s a mistake I never want to repeat. Alcohol is a toxin to the body, and it doesn’t do any favors for our livers, kidneys, skin, waistlines, or brains. I’ve saved money, lost weight, and felt overall happier and more in control since I stopped drinking all the time.
- Toxic People- I started eliminating toxic people from my life as I’ve gotten older, and it’s really made a difference in my mental health. Admittedly, this is something I struggle a lot with, and I’m continuously working on learning how to identify toxicity in others and myself. Letting go of relationships is very hard for me because I have some deep abandonment issues (lol thanks mom and dad). I tend to blame most interpersonal issues on myself, and I’m constantly wondering what I did wrong while not holding other parties accountable for their actions. I prefer to be a peacekeeper and avoid conflict at all costs. This means I struggle with setting boundaries, and I can be overly sensitive and a pushover. I’d rather
helpfix others than focus on my issues. However, now that I recognize these weaknesses of mine and understand where they come from, I can actively work on improving and changing my behavior. Everyone is a little toxic, and most relationships hit bumps in the road. But, if someone does not respect your boundaries and leaves you feeling emotionally drained even after you’ve clearly expressed how their actions make you feel, it’s healthy and normal to end the relationship (romantic, familial, and platonic alike). It’s also normal to mourn toxic relationships. You may feel sad and lost, but we grow through the pain, and removing the weeds from our gardens means more flowers will grow around us. It’s equally important to identify the toxic traits in ourselves. A therapist or close family member/friend can help with this process. We all make mistakes, but it’s never too late to change our ways and become the best version of ourselves possible.
- Smoking– Not much needs to be said here. There are no health benefits to smoking, and even smoking marijuana is bad for the lungs. If you need help quitting, there are many resources and medications to try.
- All-nighters– Our bodies need sleep. Staying up late all the time is a recipe for disaster. My mood is always low when I don’t get eight hours of rest, and I find myself eating more unhealthy foods throughout the day to keep my energy levels up. Adopting a puppy has forced me to keep a regular sleep schedule, and I’ve noticed it’s really made a positive difference in my day. You can read more about the benefits of having a dog here!
We all have our struggles, and it’s important not to beat ourselves up for having a cigarette or eating a tub of ice cream at midnight on a Tuesday. All we can do is move forward with a positive attitude and try again. Success doesn’t happen without failure. I’ve failed many times, and I will continue to do so. As long as I learn from my mistakes and keep improving, I challenge myself to accept imperfection and love myself flaws and all.
In addition to removing toxic elements from our lives, it’s also important to give ourselves enough of the good things we need to thrive. I’m not perfect, but I’ve tried to incorporate the following things into my daily routine:
- Healthy foods- Now is a great time to practice cooking at home with lean meats, fruits, and vegetables. Instead of obsessing over what you should cut out of your diet, focus on adding colorful, nutrient dense foods to the menu. Fill up on healthy snacks and meals that keep you feeling full and satisfied. But don’t beat yourself up over every cookie or potato chip that crosses your path.
- Movement– Even if we can’t go to the gym (or don’t want to go to the gym), find ways to move throughout the day. Gardening, dancing, pilates, and hiking are great ways to keep your mind and body healthy. Endorphins boost our moods and regular exercise keeps our bodies from developing problems as we age.
- Knowledge– Try to learn something new every day. Read a scientific article about something that interests you or sign up for an online class. Learning a new language or fun fact everyday keeps the brain active and stimulated.
- Water– Hydration is so important. Keep a water bottle with you at all times and drink throughout the day. It’s amazing how much better this can make us feel.
- Positive thoughts and people– Surround yourself with people who love and support you in a healthy way. Stay in touch with FaceTime, Zoom, or socially distant, small gatherings. Also, try to eliminate the negative self-talk we are all guilty of. Replace bad thoughts with good ones, and practice talking to yourself how you’d encourage your best friend. Be kind to yourself and don’t let past failures or mistakes define you. Self-love is one of the most important things we can give ourselves. Unfortunately, for most of us, this is very difficult to do and may require the help of a therapist.
I know this was a long post, but thank you so much for making it this far. If you’re feeling down, lost, or hopeless about the future, you are not alone. Each one of us is on our own unique journey, and we all need support at some point. Find a good therapist, trusted confidant, self-help book, or podcast to motivate you along the way, and feel free to reach out to me here as well. Now is the perfect time to reflect on ourselves, set goals, and recenter ourselves. We’re all in this together, and good things are coming!
Please let me know if you enjoyed this post and would like to read similar content.