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Recently, I set out to reset myself.
I had been reading a lot about various physical fasting and cleansing techniques, and I thought, “Hey, why not?”
My objective was mental clarity. I wanted to feel “lighter” inside this heavy, burdensome, virus-laden world of rapid fire information, excess, and all the moving parts. I wanted to feel lighter physically, too. Some sort of self-care reset seemed like the perfect antidote to wrap myself around, so I decided to commit to the process for 10 days.
The cleanse I completed was two-fold:
1. Healthy, light eating (organic, fresh, wholesome) coupled with moderate exercise and yoga (not obsessive or mandatory). This meant no sweets, less starchy carbs, less meat, and more thoughtfully prepared meals. I engaged in brisk walking and stretching whenever the chance presented itself, but it wasn’t on my “to-do” list for the day, and I didn’t “feel bad” if I didn’t do it.
2. “Quick hit” reduction/removal (trash TV, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, shopping, political news). Anything I frequently used for instant entertainment, anything I consumed mindlessly as a distraction, or time killer. Anything that created an opportunity for me to react in a knee-jerk manner (laughter, anger) was eliminated or greatly reduced from my daily life.
Here are the 10 things I learned:
1. It’s difficult to begin. I was very hungry for the first three days, and not penciling in my exercise was uncomfortable. I am usually pretty regimented. My attempt to not make it a daily chore on my list became a chore. “They” like to say that changing habits isn’t about self-control or will power, but “they” are wrong. I wrote the following simple mantra on a little piece of paper I stored in my pocket. “Don’t give up what you want most for what you want right now.” I had to keep my objective (mental clarity) in front of me during the physical adjustment period. On the “mindful level,” I honestly couldn’t believe how many times I actually had to force myself to put my phone down.
2. I felt less connected and less “in the know.” This was uncomfortable, too. The visual distraction and “passive connection” of scrolling through other people’s lives, reels, and my news feed kept me from my own. I won’t lie. I didn’t stop completely. I posted a few times, and I “checked in” but, I did it a lot less, and it felt triumphant. I learned that social media is a self-serving habit at best, not something I need to help me feel happy or complete. Real connection does that job.
3. Holy sh*t, I got bored. As in, “What the hell did I even do before this little handheld computer in my pocket?” bored. That was scary. The boredom was painful, but I sat inside my discomfort and lived with it. Time felt endless, which isn’t a bad thing. I started to notice nuances, like time change, noises, and the way the air actually feels. I practiced stillness, and presence. I began to have more genuine conversations with my friends and family (calling instead of texting, and seeing faces instead of looking at photos on Facebook). It was lovely.
4. I slept more. It was something to do. My body, soul, and mind reaped the benefits of the extra “z’s.” I felt less fatigued and a bit more energized.
5. I was hydrated. Drinking water became an activity! It was “something to do,” but it was something that helped my body feel better. Watering ourselves is a good habit because when we feel better, it totally changes our mood and perspective.
6. I was forced to think outside the internet and do other gratifying things. Instead of escaping to a screen, watching others having adventures, I had a few undocumented adventures. I went for hikes (without photos). I walked my neighborhood (without photos). I did crafts (without photos). I bought less food, coffee, and material things (without photos). I tried to focus, for once, on essentials. Quality over quantity. I sat by the fire and actually enjoyed the sense of peace it gave me without thinking about what to do next. I connected with my dog. I wrote more. Nothing to write home about (get it?) but still. I felt inspired, and it was amazing.
7. I volunteered.
8. I made a few house repairs and did some projects that have been waiting for me to complete “when I have time.”
9. My eyeballs stopped hurting so much. Seriously.
10. I stretched constantly. I felt more in tune with my body as a vessel instead of a burden to obsess about or try in vain to perfect, or starve, fill, or force into submission.
We’ve all heard about fasting as a reset for our bodies and souls. Cleansing sounds like heaven in this world filled with toxic energy and excess. Too much food and alcohol wreaks havoc on us physically. Too much screen time and “lost” time sucks our souls right out into la-la land. Too much to do with “others” and not enough to do with ourselves damages our happiness. Too much of anything leaves us with a feeling of “no real purpose,” and there are definitely depressive feelings that come along with excess. It’s amazing how “excess” contrarily creates a “lack of.” Just ask unhappy rich people everywhere.
A true body and soul “fast” includes depriving ourselves of the quickie feel-good chemicals that come from engaging in impulsive behaviors or habitual ones like scrolling social media, watching television, shopping, and careless eating and drinking.
Try a mindful reset. Do it without regret, and feel yourself recharge.
I did it, and it worked.