Sure, you’ve heard of (and probably dread) spring cleaning, when you organize the junk drawer, flip the mattress, and deep clean your bathroom, but we also stan a cleaning at the beginning of the year that cleanses more than just the home. Take a cue from nature: The trees have shed their leaves and the calendar is leaving behind a year, so why shouldn’t we? The start of a new year is the perfect time to let go of physical, mental, and emotional toxins. So what’s the best way to do a life cleanse during a time when we’re always distracted, on the go, stressed, or busy? Try these 13 holistic challenges simultaneously or tackle one challenge every day to Marie-Kondo your health, well-being, and entire life.
1. Simplify your diet
When it comes to cleansing nutrition, a juice cleanse doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t) be your go-to. Instead of opting for a totally different diet, simplify your diet. Focus less on frozen meals, processed products, or a plethora of sauces, dressings, and dips, all of which have a multitude of ingredients. Instead, prioritize whole foods that come from the Earth, not a factory. Make sure the majority of your grocery cart is from the produce section or full of whole foods like beans, lentils, rice, or quinoa. Make meals more flavorful with whole ingredients like herbs, spices, olive oil, or apple cider vinegar. Yes, you might be opting for processed foods as a way to simplify your life and make meal time easier, but trust me, a few fresh, whole ingredients are way simpler than an ingredients list that you can’t pronounce.
2. Refresh your personal finance
Money is not just something you make and then spend; it’s your life’s energy force. Think about it: Money is an exchange of value for the effort and energy we give about 40 hours every single week. Take a look at your bank accounts and credit card statements to reevaluate how you’re spending your life’s energy. Does it really bring you joy to go to drinks with the friend you don’t have fun with or to buy the top you’ll never end up wearing? Managing money based on what does and doesn’t bring you joy will reduce stress that comes with spending money on the vacations, items, and experiences that you truly love.
If money is a consistent source of stress for you and you feel like you’re always coming from a “lack” energy instead of an abundance energy, try cleansing your spendings. Temporarily cancel recurring charges, increase your savings by 5%, order out less, or designate certain days of the week where you won’t spend any money. With the money you do save, consider investing it in yourself: get the gym membership, purchase that online course, or put more into your savings account for future you. The more money you put into something, the more likely you are to make it a priority.
3. Limit stress and clear out negative emotions
You’ve probably heard of a juice detox, but what about an emotional detox? Sometimes, we need a little extra focus on removing impurities in the mind too. The goal of an emotional detox is not to totally get rid of negative emotions (ups and downs are a part of being human, after all) but rather to clear out emotions that are stagnant and no longer serving us. Try recording negative emotions, coming up with a plan of action when negative emotions come up, or go on a full-on complaint cleanse. Since a big (unavoidable) piece of mental health is stress, prioritize cleansing that too. Limit stress by scheduling breaks and downtime into your calendar and forgive yourself (and others) for making mistakes.
4. Reassess your relationships
Whether online or in real life, unfollow toxic people that drain your energy instead of lift you up. Make a list of the people you come in contact with most often—including friends, roommates, family, coworkers, etc.—and ask how you feel being with each person. I don’t know who needs to hear this, but you should only be giving your precious energy and time to people who are deserving. That means people you’re proud to be around, people who bring you joy, and people who make you feel loved. If you find that some unavoidable people don’t fall into this category (like a jealous coworker or a toxic family member), you can still consciously decide to give them less thought and energy, even if they still require your time.
5. Designate a tech-free space
Sadly, technology is a big part of cleansing because it’s a big part of our lives. While tech is often unavoidable (we need to make a living and communicate with loved ones somehow, you know?), try to designate one space in your home that’s tech-free. Try the bedroom, kitchen table, or corner where you keep a yoga mat and meditation pillow to create one space in your home where Netflix, Instagram, and Slack are not allowed. Having this tech-free space will remind you to have some “off” time every day, whether it’s during dinner with your significant other, while meditating and working out, or right before bed.
6. Cleanse your social media
If the tech-free space tickles your fancy, take it a step further with a social media detox and delete all the life-sucking apps (sorry, was that dramatic?) from your phone for a designated period. However, also be mindful of how you can keep your social media habits cleansed, even after the detox is over. Utilize the mute or unfollow button for accounts that don’t inspire you, stop checking your phone first thing in the morning, and turn off all notifications (yes, I said “all”). When your notifications are on, whether it’s a like on Instagram or an iMessage, you’re no longer in charge of your own life and habits. The phone buzzes or lights up to tell you when it’s time to check your texts or Instagram feed instead of being able to choose when is best for you to check your phone.
7. Donate “excess” clothes
You knew that organization would come into a life cleanse at some point (or you would if you binged Get Organized with The Home Edit in a day like I did). In my opinion, the closet is the most important space to start with, as it’s often a representation of what we need to let go of. For example, donate or sell clothes that don’t fit. Period. Holding onto items you hope you’ll fit into one day is only stopping you from loving, accepting, and dressing for who you are right now. Also, in the most Mario-Kondo fashion ever, get rid of what doesn’t spark joy. Even your clothing items should bring value to your life: a cozy sweater that keeps you warm, a sparkly necklace that makes you happy, a nice bra that makes you feel sexy, or a dress that reminds you of that shopping trip you took with your mom. If they don’t, time to make room for something that will.
8. Refine decision making
We make a lot of decisions every single day, even just within the first few minutes of waking up: whether or not to hit snooze, what to wear (which is approximately 100 different decisions), and when to turn on the coffee pot. The little decisions add up to feel so overwhelming that we become unable to make even the most basic decision. Decision fatigue is real, people! To keep up with healthy habits and improve your overall well-being, limit decision making as much as possible and reduce decision fatigue. Meal prep all your lunches, sign up for workout classes in advance (or put a workout in your calendar), do the dishes right after dinner to eliminate the choice to do them later, and try a go-to outfit formula so you don’t have to think about what to wear.
9. Get sweaty
The word “detox” has basically lost its meaning since it has become one of the most overused buzzwords in the wellness space. However, there’s one sneaky method that can actually help the body get rid of toxins, and guess what? It’s not a juice cleanse. Dr. Chris Airey, MD, the medical director at Optimale and a practicing physician with the NHS, explained that sweat is a crucial part of the body’s detoxification process. When you work up a sweat during a workout sesh or steam shower, you’re not only sweating out electrolytes and water, but you’re also sweating out toxins (BRB, signing up for hot yoga!).
That’s right: The embarrassing stuff you try to prevent with antiperspirant can help your body rid itself of toxins. Add “detoxing” to the long list of reasons to exercise. If you’re not exercising regularly or prefer low-impact workouts that don’t break a sweat, try taking a steam shower or finding a sauna near you.
10. Spend time in silence
When’s the last time you actually sat in silence and did nothing? Yes, I mean without the TV on or Instagram pulled up on your phone. Sitting in silence is one of the most crucial and effective things we can do to declutter the mind. Think of it like plugging your phone in the charger when its battery is running low; when the brain is always on, it never gets a chance to shut off. Cozy up on the couch and stare at the fireplace, spend two minutes taking in every scent, sight, and smell, sit on a park bench and take in the scenery, or try meditation. The more uncomfortable sitting in silence is, the more you probably need it.
11. Reassess your schedule
That’s right: You can (and should) detox your schedule too. Try looking through a few days or a week of your planner to get a better understanding of what you’re doing all day, every day. If you don’t schedule and plan out every second of your entire life like I do, consider tracking every activity and task for a couple of days to get a good understanding of how you spend your time. Include everything from work projects to a five-minute Instagram scroll. Once you know exactly how you’re spending your day or week, reassess what’s really worth your time and energy. Find the pockets of time that feel like a waste (looking at you, TikTok scroll), and reassess how you can fill that time differently to make you happier or calmer.
12. Get some indoor plants
You don’t have to have an inherent green thumb to know that plants bring, attract, and give off good energy. It’s believed that they ease stress, purify the air, and help increase productivity. In other words, having a plant in your home or workspace can simultaneously cleanse stress levels, your work quality, and the air (BRB, my apartment is about to become a forest). Don’t have much of a green thumb? Click here for how to keep your indoor plants alive or check out these houseplants that you won’t kill (promise!). And if you’re really not about that plant life, some affordable fake plants couldn’t hurt (if nothing else, they’ll look really pretty).
13. Detox your sleep
I like to say that everything starts in the bedroom. Get your mind out of the gutter—not like that (although that might be true too). What I mean is that sleep is one of the most crucial elements to our overall well-being. Thanks to factors like stress at work, overexposure to light, and Netflix binges (curse you, Squid Games!), more people than ever are relying on coffee to get through their day. To fully achieve a cleansed life, you need to regularly get seven to nine hours of quality sleep a night. If you’re not waking up refreshed and staying energized throughout the day, your sleep (or lack thereof) might be to blame. Detox your sleep routine by limiting light in the evenings, perfecting your sleep environment, and sticking to a sleep schedule.