Category Archives: declutter

Emotional detox — 7 steps to releasing toxic thoughts

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post about decluttering. I said a cluttered home equals a cluttered mind. And decluttering my home did make me feel less stressed, and gave me a bit of thinking space. But to be honest, it only scratched the surface. 

So I’m digging a little deeper. This time I’m on a mission to spring clean my emotions. It’s not so much a declutter as an emotional detox.

Why take an emotional detox?

You know how it is. You over indulge in junk food, alcohol or drugs and you know the next day (or even the same day) you’re going to feel lethargic, sluggish, unhealthy.

Toxic emotions work in the same way. They stagnate, keeping you mentally stuck in the same place, or worse, suck you into a downward spiral. 

Now I don’t believe that any emotion is inherently unhealthy — there’s no good or bad. It’s all down to attitude. It’s what you do with the energy the emotion generates that causes it to turn toxic. 

You feel stressed — you berate yourself for the emotion
You feel angry — you suppress the emotion.
You feel jealous — you reject the emotion.
You feel hopeless — you lie about the emotion.


You believe you shouldn’t feel what you do. 

But it’s when you reject, judge, suppress or lie about emotions that toxicity sets in. An emotion doesn’t go away just because you’re pushing it back under the surface. It festers, sabotaging your health and happiness, and eventually leading to stress, anxiety, burnout, addiction and depression.

And it’s not only the mind that suffers. Toxic emotions have been linked to high blood pressure, ulcers, IBS, and even cancer. 

Toxic emotions can be lethal. 

Releasing toxic emotions
Right, so that’s the scary part over. Now on to how you can begin to release toxic emotions.


I won’t take all the credit for this — Oprah’s mate Deepak Chopra inspired this simple seven-step process, which gives toxic emotions nowhere to hide.

1. Identify the toxic emotion
You feel bad — you’ve established that. But what is the actual emotion that’s making you feel that way? Too many to list? Identify the one that holds the most power over you. Which one robs you of self-confidence and self-esteem and keeps happiness and fulfilment out of reach? That’s the nasty one.


2. Witness the physical sensations
Now you know which toxic emotion you’re dealing with, witness what it’s doing to your body. Panic attacks? Nausea? Shortness of breath? Headaches? By releasing resistance and allowing yourself to experience the physical sensations, you‘ll find that the emotional charge dissipates.


3. Take responsibility for how you feel
Realising that you have the power to choose how you respond to and interpret your experiences is a crucial step in the healing process. Don’t feel guilty about your feelings either. Be kind. Accept that you feel crap and pat yourself on the back for making a change. 


4. Express the emotion Place your hand on the part of your body where you sense that the feeling is located. Say out loud “it hurts here”. If that’s too weird (or you’re on a train), write it down. 

5. Release the emotion through physical ritual
You knew it was coming… This is where your deep breathing, meditation, green exercise, interpretive dance (?) comes in. Do whatever you feel will best allow your body to release the tension that’s stored with the toxic emotion. If you wrote it down, now is the time to burn your piece of paper.

6. Share the toxic emotional experience When you feel calm, share the emotion with someone you trust. Just make sure you’re not seeking pity or approval, or trying to blame anyone else. 

7. Celebrate the emotional detox process
Reward yourself with something nourishing that’s just for you: book a massage, go out for dinner, or buy yourself a gift. And practise self love — the best way to prevent the build up of toxic emotions. 

Declutter. Detox. Emotionally or physically, cleaning up comes down to control. 

Take back control. Stop holding on to the stuff you don’t need. Let it go. 

Have you ever taken an emotional detox? What did you do? I’d love you to leave me a comment. And while you’re here, please take a minute or two to sign up to follow Wellbeing bites by email. It’s a little piece of awesomeness in your inbox each week.

Image by Matthew Johnstone
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Declutter for a less stressful life

The old clothes were piled high. The paperwork hadn’t been filed since 2011. Desk drawers were overflowing with photos, tickets and receipts that I would never need, or probably even look at, again. 


I was overwhelmed with stuff. And it was starting to stress me out. 


So I took a few hours off and decluttered. It took me a while to get going and didn’t get everything done, but the local Salvos is happy and so am I. 

Cluttered home = cluttered mind

Organisation guru Peter Walsh says that disorganised people who surround themselves with clutter often feel frustrated, out of control and anxious. 

Sound familiar?

Decluttering is reclaiming ‘you’ time

Decluttering isn’t simply about reorganising your home/work area, it’s about creating mental space and making room for fresh energy. It also allows you more time to do the things you actually want to do, like spending time with friends and family, cooking, exercising and meditating. 

Six top tips to get you decluttered and back in control

1. Start small. Feeling overwhelmed can be debilitating. Start small with one drawer or cupboard. Set a timer for five or ten minutes, turn off the phone and computer, and just do this one task. 

2. Stick to the old one-in-one-out method. Bought a new item of clothing? eBay, give away or donate an old item, or even two. It’s a simple but effective way to keep on top of clutter. For larger stuff that opp shops won’t take, offer it for free on Freecycle and do your bit to reduce landfill. 

3. Make sure your old stuff actually gets to its new home. There’s no point having bags of stuff to donate lying around the house. It’s still clutter. If you can’t take it to the opp shop immediately, put it in the car so you can drop it off next time you’re driving past. 

4. Still struggling? Get a trusted mate round to help. Let them make some decluttering decisions for you. They’re not emotionally attached to your stuff – they don’t know that its the scarf your wore when you had your first kiss or the blanket you wrapped your newborn son in. They’ll just ask whether you need it now.

5. Find a ‘home’ for the things you do want or need. Everything must have its place and space. Make labels and storage boxes your new best friends.

6. On the fence? Try a ‘maybe box’. Set a calendar alert for six months’ time. If you haven’t used what’s in the maybe box by then, get rid of it. The maybe box idea is from Leo Babauta from Zen Habits who has six kids and 200,000 blog subscribers, so it must work. 

After I decluttered, I made time to get to two yoga classes in one week. That’s two more than I’ve managed any other week this year. I’ve also been able to enjoy playing with the kids, knowing that the chaos we’re creating only needs to last until tidy up time, because every toy has a home. 

Give it a try – all you have to do is begin it. Declutter and reclaim your space.