Did you know that your emotions can affect your skin? Especially if you experience stressful or negative emotions, they may cause dryness, flaking, rashes, and acne.
Nothing like adding insult to injury, right?
Of course, you can’t just ignore how you feel. That isn’t good for you anyway. But with this year coming to a close and a New Year on the horizon, you can try what is called an “emotional cleanse.” It may not only help you feel refreshed and ready to greet the New Year, but it could have positive effects on your skin too!
What Is an Emotional Cleanse?
Also called an “emotional detox,” an emotional cleanse is similar to a physical cleanse, except instead of clearing toxins from your body, you clear out old, negative emotions.
These emotions, as long as they remain in your mind and heart, can have damaging effects on your body. Studies have shown that stress, depression, and other negative emotions are comparable to high blood pressure and abdominal obesity when it comes to risk factors for heart disease.
Other studies show that negative emotions increase inflammation (bad for your skin) and cause blood to clot more quickly, which can damage blood vessels and thicken artery walls.
Positive emotions, on the other hand, are linked with new healthy cell growth and a lowered risk of disease and even death.
An emotional cleanse offers you the opportunity to cleanse yourself of the negative emotions that may be weighing you down. Once those negative emotions are behind you, you’ll likely feel physically better and your skin will be less reactive and more radiant.
7 Steps to Doing Your Own Emotional Cleanse
So how exactly do you “do” an emotional cleanse? There is no one way, so you can see what works for you. The main goal is to get to the root of how you feel, then move through those feelings while continuing to take good care of yourself.
We’ve got an example of an emotional cleanse you can try.
1. Decide on a Time Frame
Similar to when you do a physical detox, you will want to decide how much time to devote to your cleanse. Most psychological experts recommend three to seven days to go through the entire process.
Check your calendar and schedule the time you think will work for you. Don’t let the time be a roadblock, though. If you don’t have three days to spare, use whatever you can. Maybe that’s one day. Maybe it’s only an afternoon. The important thing is to get started.
2. Become Aware Of Your Feelings
Most of us are so busy living our everyday lives that we rarely stop long enough to find out how we’re feeling. An emotional detox gives you a chance to do that.
Take 10-20 minutes or more a day to simply answer this question in your journal: How do you feel? Set the timer and write freely without editing yourself. Let the words flow from your heart to your hand. Keep writing until you run out of things to write, then come back and do it again the next day.
With practice, your deeper feelings should start to come out. If they need more help, ask yourself this question: What am I afraid to admit that I feel?
Remember—your journal is yours and yours alone. It’s not for anyone else to see. View it as a safe space for your emotions.
3. Get to the Root of Your Feelings
Once you start to get your feelings down, it’s time to find out why you’re feeling as you are. Start by making a list of at least three (or more) feelings that are prominent in your mind right now. For example:
Mine your journal for clues as to which overall emotions you’re feeling. Once you have them down, ask yourself this question: Why am I feeling (fill-in-the-blank)? Try not to blame others. Sure, they may have upset you initially, but you’re the one who is still feeling this emotion. Why? Write your answer next to each emotion you wrote down.
4. Ask for Help
If you notice yourself becoming anxious or worried at this point, don’t be afraid to ask for help. You can meet with a therapist or talk to a trusted friend about your feelings. Either way, remember that you don’t have to do this alone. If things get intense, find someone who can help you.
5. Create an Action Plan
Once you’ve discovered the main emotions you’re dealing with and why, it’s time to come up with a plan to eliminate these feelings and replace them with positive ones.
There are several ways you can do this. You can act out your emotions. If you’re sad, allow yourself a crying session. Angry? Scream into a pillow or go for a hard run. Plan active ways to get these emotions out of your body.
If you’re upset with a particular person, write that person a letter. Get out all of your emotions in that letter, then burn it. You don’t have to send it. This isn’t about the other person. This is about helping yourself to let go.
Maybe you need to decide to let go of a relationship that is bringing you down. Maybe you need to change jobs, face your fears, or adjust your boundaries. Put on your problem-solving hat, and ask yourself: How can I let go of this and help myself feel better?
6. Show Yourself Some Love
Once you’ve gone through step five and you have an action plan, it’s time to show yourself some love. The better you can treat yourself at this point, the more refreshed and positive you will feel.
Forgive yourself for any mistakes you may have made. Accept yourself for who you are, and start treating yourself as you would a good friend. Talk kindly to yourself. Give yourself compassion. Treat yourself to small pleasures like a long walk, hot bath, or new book.
It’s hard to love others when you don’t love yourself. Start with the person in the mirror.
7. Engage in Activities that Inspire Positive Emotions
Now that you’ve flushed out the negative emotions, it’s time to inspire the positive ones. You want to experience more love, joy, peace, and happiness. How can you do that? Write down a list of all the things that make you feel this way, and then start scheduling them into your life.
Play positive music. Spend time with people who lift you up. Engage in activities you enjoy. Exercise and take care of your body. Watch shows that inspire you or make you laugh. Put together a puzzle or build a new cabinet. Take a drive to somewhere fun.
While you’re doing this, avoid anything that makes you feel bad. Take a break from social media and the news. Avoid upsetting movies and television shows. Stay away from negative people as much as possible. Shield yourself for at least a week while you build up your positive emotions.
Your Emotional Cleanse Doesn’t Have to End
Don’t be surprised if after doing an emotional cleanse like the one above, you don’t want to stop doing it. If you feel that way, great! That means you’ve seen the value in processing negative emotions and inspiring positive ones, and if you continue with some sort of variation on this process, it’s likely you’ll enjoy a happier and healthier life.
Have you tried an emotional cleanse?
Davidson, K. W. (2012). Depression and Coronary Heart Disease. ISRN Cardiol, 2012. https://doi.org/10.5402/2012/743813
Rosengren, A., Hawken, S., Ôunpuu, S., Sliwa, K., Zubaid, M., Almahmeed, W. A., Blackett, K. N., Sitthi-amorn, C., Sato, H., & Yusuf, S. (2004). Association of psychosocial risk factors with risk of acute myocardial infarction in 11 119 cases and 13 648 controls from 52 countries (the INTERHEART study): Case-control study. The Lancet, 364(9438), 953-962. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0140-6736(04)17019-0