A friend from many years ago contacted me recently, asking my advice on detoxing her life. She wanted some tips to help her feel less overwhelmed with the process. I remembered feeling that way myself, suddenly responsible for making life-changing decisions for my new baby and wanting to make the very best decisions I could but not really knowing where to start. Here’s what I told my friend:
The question of how to detox your life is a big one! A whole book could be written on it, for sure. And people have already! One that I read is The Non-Toxic Avenger by Deanna Duke. She really did a lot of research and personally detoxed her family’s lifestyle significantly. She did a lot of blood tests before and after detoxing to see how the numbers changed after she changed parts of her lifestyle, which was interesting to see.
Want to detox your life? Here’s my advice:
1. Go slow. It’s a huge undertaking and it is easy to feel like it all has to be done perfectly and immediately, which is overwhelming and discouraging. So do one thing at a time and be gentle with yourself.
2. Start with whatever is easiest for you. Some people are naturally more passionate about food, or body care products, or natural cleaners, or cloth diapers or whatever. So start with the thing you are most comfortable and confident with, and let your momentum carry you into the more challenging areas.
3. Read lots. Again, it is super easy to get buried in reading about every little thing that could be potentially toxic and feel overwhelmed, but educating yourself is an important step.
4. Ask questions. What happens to this thing when I’m done using it? Where was this thing made? What’s in it? How does it work? How will it affect my body or the environment? What are the risks? Is there another option?
5. Read labels. Every time you buy something you have an opportunity to make a different choice. Find out what those ingredients actually are and what they do. I like to use the cosmetic database and David Suzuki’s shopping guide if I’m considering buying a new body care product and want to find out how safe it is.
6. Know where your food comes from. I gave my copy of The Omnivore’s Dilemma to a friend and I highly recommend that everyone read it! So go get a copy and dig in! It’s a great read. Another handy resource is the clean fifteen/dirty dozen list, which outlines produce that contains the highest and lowest levels of pesticides.
7. Understand that health and well-being are many-faceted. Health comes from the interplay of our bodies, our environment, our relationships and our minds. I totally class things like mindfulness meditation and non-violent communication in with my other detoxing efforts because unhealthy mental habits can have a real effect on our physical health by directly influencing our immune system. Also, lots of unhealthy habits have their roots in our emotional past (seen most dramatically in things like addictions and eating disorders) and working through that helps resolve the drive to do the unhealthy things.
8. Be willing to try new things. I remember thinking about doing cloth diapers with Bea and worrying about how complicated it would be and how I’d never manage to keep up. But it turned out to be no more difficult to wash diapers than it was to wash ordinary clothes. Cloth diapers added 3 loads of laundry to my week. I could handle that, even though I didn’t think I could at first.
I don’t remember where I originally started detoxing our lifestyle – I think I probably started replacing cleaning products and stuff like shampoo early on because the artificial fragrances gave me headaches, and then I learned that they were harmful to the endocrine system and started researching more. Then I got pregnant with Bea and the process kind of kicked into a higher gear. I’m still working on it seven/eight years later! It takes time, for sure.
Oh yes, and there’s this, which is hilarious: :)
How are you detoxing your life? Do you have any advice to add?