When it comes to detoxing, you can find hundreds, if not thousands of websites, books, and articles outlining countless ways to eliminate impurities and cleanse the body. While I do believe that a good physical detox can be beneficial if done safely, I also believe that it is just as important to clean the mind of negative emotions. Like many other modern health care professionals, I believe that the mind and body are deeply connected, so your state of mind can have a profound effect on your heart and overall health. Therefore, emotional detoxing is just as important as physical detoxing for optimum health.

Obviously stressful emotions like anger, anxiety, and depression make us feel terrible, but what is not so obvious is the damage that these emotions can have on our physical bodies. The groundbreaking INTERHEART study revealed that psychosocial factors like stress and depression are comparable to hypertension and abdominal obesity when it comes to risk factors for heart disease. Another study led by Karina W. Davidson, Ph.D., of Columbia University Medical Center shows that happy people are 22 percent less likely to develop heart disease than their unhappy counterparts.

Although scientists are not entirely sure what the direct link between negative emotions and heart health is, research suggests that depression may increase inflammation and cause the blood to clot more quickly, which can damage blood vessels and thicken artery walls. And of course, doctors have long known that the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline increase blood pressure, heart rate, and blood sugars. All of these effects on the body can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

This may seem like terrible news, especially considering that we all feel angry or upset from time to time. But the good news is that we can actually significantly decrease the amount of negative emotions that we feel on a day-to-day basis and therefore decrease the risk of developing cardiovascular problems. The following are some tips on how to do an emotional detox to cleanse the mind and the heart.

Be Aware of Your Emotions. Most of us have a natural tendency to try and avoid feeling bad, so we repress our emotions instead of dealing with them head on. We might do this by pretending everything is alright when it isn’t, denying that a problem exists, or turning to alcohol, food, or television for distraction. Unfortunately, problems and negative feelings don’t just go away. They fester under the surface and will come out at some point down the road. The best thing to do when you are feeling angry or down is to be aware of the emotions inside you and allow yourself to fully feel them.

Get to the Root of Your Feelings. Once you have recognized that you are feeling a certain way, the next thing to do is ask yourself why you are feeling that particular emotion. Sure, it is easy to blame other people or situations for making you upset, but ultimately you are the one manifesting the feeling. More often than not, negative feelings can be traced back to fear, guilt, or anger with yourself. Try to pinpoint the exact cause of your negative feelings, and from there you can formulate an action plan to let those feelings go.

Don’t be Afraid to Ask For Help. Delving deep into your emotions is no easy task, and you may find yourself feeling drained or coming up short when it comes to getting to the root of your feelings. A professional therapist can help you deal with your emotions in a safe and efficient manner, which will leave you with more time to focus on the good. In addition, close friends, family members, and loved ones can be invaluable support during an emotional detox.

Formulate an Action Plan. Now that you are aware of your emotions and have some idea of where they are coming from, it is time to take steps to eliminate the negative feelings and replace them with positive emotions. This may involve curbing your anger by meditating or taking a walk, overcoming your fears, speaking your mind when you feel you are being wronged, or letting go of people who have a negative influence on your life.

Show Yourself Some Love And Care. One of the best ways to get the most out of an emotional detox is to treat yourself with kindness, compassion, and love. Forgive yourself for the things you cannot change or control, and move on from your past mistakes. Accept yourself for who you are, and make time each day to do things that make you truly happy. Positive affirmations are also an excellent way to boost those feel-good emotions and keep you grounded.

We may not always see the connection between our emotional and physical health, but the scientific evidence shows us that there is indeed a correlation between the two. For optimum heart health and overall well-being, it is important to purify not only your physical body but also your mind. Only then can genuine healing take place and you can begin to reach your true potential.

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For more information about balancing your body, mind, and spirit and healthy living, please read my comprehensive book on heart health, Your Vibrant Heart: Restoring Health, Strength and Spirit from the Body's Core. The book includes many more insights about how to nurture and care for your heart on both a physical and emotional level.

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About the Author

Cynthia Thaik, M.D.

Cynthia Thaik, M.D., is a Harvard trained physician and currently an Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine

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