Slow Living pt. 2: A Seasonal Reset
Hello Spring 🌸
As the first cherry blossoms are about to take the spotlight, so could our bodies and minds. Now is the perfect time for a gentle detox to come into play. Even though Winter can sometimes feel cosy and warm like a snug hibernation, at times it can also be cold and unforgiving. The days are shorter, the nights are longer, and the sun seems like a distant memory.
Lack of Vitamin D aside, the reality of winter sometimes feels like you need more energy to sustain yourself. And then, there’s this winter… Oh yeah, a gentle reset will be much needed this Spring.
The idea of seasonal detoxing has been around for ages and this natural remedy to all ailments has since passed down through generations. My Japanese grandmother, for instance, always insisted in a Spring + Autumn detox of the body and mind, but also of the home in the form of decluttering and cleaning. This was definitely not our cup of tea as kids, but now feels so gratifying after hitting thirty.
The trick is to find what works for you in order to create achievable lifestyle goals to gently ease into this symbolic season of rebirth. Yes, I know, detoxing inevitably means staying away from our cheekiest pleasures (Cheese and wine, I’m looking at you👀), but it will more than make up for it with the feeling of lightness you get after reenergising your routine.
So today, I’ve put down in writing a few of my favourite rituals for a gentle seasonal detox:
In Eastern medicine, each season is linked to different elements of nature, different flavours, and different organ systems in the body. Spring would be linked to the sour taste and the wood element, while the organs you want to focus on during that time are the liver, gallbladder, intestines, lungs and skin.
Food is medicine. And foods with a sour taste (in small amounts only, we don’t want to overstimulate the liver!) will have a cleansing action by breaking down excess fats, cool the liver and help eliminate toxins from the tissues. By finding the right balance for the liver and gallbladder, you can improve digestion and reduce inflammation, amongst other wonderful benefits.
Some Spring food suggestions:
Citrus foods such as lemons, lime and grapefruit.
Mung beans and their sprouts
To complement the cleansing action of these high-fibre foods, another thing I love during this season is healing broths. My favourite is the bone broth in all its forms, it has incredible benefits for digestive health but also for skin, muscles and joints. Rich in amino acids and collagen, it offers protective and healing properties for the intestines, gut health and promotes healthier sleep patterns. I often like to add veggies when making it:1 from a root family, 1 from a green family, 1 from the cruciferous family, 1 from the bitter family. You can also find vegan alternatives to a bone broth with similar soothing effects on the body. A steamy bowl of this concoction (I like it with a side of avocado for its folate and mineral content) is just the perfect thing to keep warm during your Spring detox.
- Spring clean
You might already be familiar with Marie Kondo’s method from her book or Netflix show. The idea of creating a space that will spark joy is something that is deeply familiar when growing up in a Japanese family. My mother would always have us clean the house and declutter before the New Year, as per tradition: 大掃除. But I also find great joy in spring cleaning and regular mini cleans throughout the year. It helps clear my head and approach the warmer season with good vibes only. Because after the winter, it is not only my body that feels sluggish, but my surroundings too. Detoxing your wardrobe is also a great way to find things to repurpose or even to get excited about bringing out those summery dresses for a twirl. A joyful reminder that Summer is around the corner.
And then there is the subject of my devices, and oh boy, that’s where it gets tricky! I start by deleting the thousands (yep, I’m in the thousands) of unread emails and 5 years old texts. Then come the pictures and the files on my laptop, which will take me ages, but the feeling of accomplishment afterwards is exhilarating. And if I feel really brave, I will tackle my contacts and delete all those old numbers that don’t even exist anymore.
Oof, feeling so much better already!
As with all detoxes, hydration is key. Water will flush out the accumulated toxins and herbal teas will support your overall wellness. If like me, you tend to have a sluggish digestive system, then kickstart the day with a cup of warm/tepid water and maybe some aloe vera juice for soothing the throat. Herbal teas which would be particularly good in this season are nettle, dandelion, fennel, and mint. If you run colder, you can make a coriander fennel ginger tea by steeping the fresh ingredients in water for 5-10 minutes, draining, and drinking. That will warm you right up.
Another natural remedy, this time from my French grandmother, is Birch water. It is the perfect 2-week cure when the season starts to change and will help fire up your detox. This precious spring elixir is packed with numerous minerals and antioxidants. With its high content of vitamin C, manganese and magnesium, it offers many benefits for skin, kidneys, joints, liver and may even help with cellulite by flushing out that excess water in the tissues.
This one is something I particularly struggle with. At the height of my anxiety, I tend to restrict my breathing so much that my ribcage would hurt. That’s why something as simple as breathing can be something worth adding to your detox agenda. With fast paced lives (yes even in lockdown, your days are probably pretty filled up with work, chores, kids, you name it) breathing can become the last thing on your mind. So, in the Spring, when the time comes for renewal and the intake of vitamin D slowly gets higher, I always try to give myself an achievable routine to remind myself to breathe. It is a rejuvenating event which helps oxygenate the body, relieve tensions and eliminate toxins. This year, to deal with that extra stress, I started with a daily diaphragmic breathing followed by a 10-minute meditation with yogisanonymous. The breathing calms down my nervous system and helps balance my stress induced high cortisol, while the meditation centres me around a feeling of gratitude and mindfulness.
If you have the time, you could also squeeze in a couple of detoxifying yoga poses. The twists and movement will help your body detox and energise. Add on a few pelvic floor exercises and you are set for the day!
- Mental detox
When focusing on cleansing, let’s not forget our most cluttered space: the mind. I don’t know about you, but mine is pretty overloaded at the moment. It’s important to pay close attention to what we’re telling ourselves and try as much as possible to steer away from the negative self-talk. Self-reflection is important of course, but I find that reaching a little lightness in my mind, especially in times like these, is crucial. Sometimes it will mean taking a break from social media, sometimes it will be stepping away from certain relationships when I feel they are taking a toxic turn. This allows me to make space for what is new and fresh about Spring and focus on moving forward. And then, hopefully, as my sluggish body gets out of its hibernation state, replenished with energy, my mind can also start afresh this new season of warmth and renewal.
This is also the perfect time to get to know yourself better and identify what you currently need-want-love, taking that time and space for yourself to indulge in things that feel really good, comforting or rewarding (no more of that doomscrolling!) This can also mean taking some time for yourself if you live with a partner and/or family. Because, sometimes, we need to find that space for ourselves to come alive.
- The bottom line
Keep it flexible. A detox should not be an added stress, because that would be entirely counter effective. A gentle food cleanse that fits your schedule, even if only for a weekend, can make a real difference. The key is to focus on your body and stay intuitive, because everyone is different and will have different detox needs to clear out the stagnation of winter and reach that sweet, sweet spot of vibrant wellness. And when you find what works for you, your body and your home, the payoff is more than worth it.
Hope you’ve enjoyed these detox tips I’ve collected over the years. Naturally, this post is purely for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice.
Happy Spring detox loves 🐣 xx