Break free from toxicity for optimal health
Excess can lead to dangerous health problems, many of which don’t manifest until after years of overindulgence. This applies not only to drugs, tobacco, and alcohol. Toxins, like those found in refined sugar, certain medications, refined flour, chemical preservatives and, yes, even people and emotions, can damage our long term health.
Anthropologist Nancy Chin, an expert in the relationship between society, culture, psychology, and health, together with the Center for Community Health and Prevention at Rochester University, explained in a 2010 article how different toxins interrupt our bodies’ natural processes.
Although her research was mainly in the field of how toxins interrupt lactation (the process by which a mother produces breastmilk), her article describes the way that many types of toxins damage our health.
Dr. Chin breaks down “toxins” into three types: social, emotional, and physical.
- Social toxins are things like unemployment, limited access to education, or housing insecurity.
- Emotion toxins include fear and uncertainty, among many others.
- Physical toxins can include hormones, chemicals, drugs, pesticides, etc.
All three types of toxins can damage our health. For example, if we go through a period of unemployment (a social toxin), we can start to manifest intense stress thinking about the future and our current uncertainty. Stress can then trigger other emotions and behaviors like anxiety, which might make us eat or overeat emotionally, or smoking...or trying to avoid problems by self-medicating with alcohol or drugs (physical toxins), which can, in the long run, cause serious health problems, even fatal ones.
Change what can be changed, and don’t worry about the rest!
Whether we like it or not, we can’t completely escape exposure to all types of toxins. And many of them, like the social ones, are out of our hands. Other people can bring them into our lives whether we like it or not. That said, we can give ourselves a chance to be healthy by avoiding phsycial and emotional toxins, and by preparing ourselves for the social ones. That way when they rear their ugly heads we have the inner strength, both physical and emotional, to resist them.
How do I break free from social toxicity?
There are definitely social situations with high potential to turn toxic, and many of these we can’t fully avoid - things like a tense political situation, economic crisis, and a pandemic. But we can set a good example (and good boundaries!) so that toxic events, news, or people don’t overly affect us. People in our family and social circle that tend to “bring the drama” are often those who get ill, as they live with negative emotions, sadness, and related issues. The same can happen with those people who overly focus on the negative, as they can end up hamstrung by negative thoughts and depression.
- You can start by trying a “social detox”. Try to distance yourself from things that suck out your enthusiasm and cause emotional stress.
- If you feel like there are people around you that act toxic, by all means distance yourself! Even if they are part of your inner circle. Begin to be more selective of the people in your life, choosing people that help you grow.
- You can do the same thing with what you decide to watch on TV, scroll through on social media, or even your favorite way to waste time. Remove everything that drains your energy or your will to be better.
How do I break free from emotional toxicity?
A 2014 study by the University of Arizona found that children who experienced serious stress were more likely to have long term consequences as adults. The study showed that certain traits and responses - things like resilience, relaxation techniques, and strong support systems - could make a healthy difference.
Some solutions for emotional toxicity:
- First off, it’s almost always a good option to seek professional help from counselors or therapists, people who can guide and help you “wipe away” the triggers or negative narratives that are causing you emotional damage.
- There are also some super simple ways to support any emotional detox. You can read books about trauma or how to process negativity. Make sure you seek out techniques and advice that is backed up by medical research and by mental and emotional health experts.
- Inspirational stories can awaken your own intangible resolve and positivity.
- The internet is a good resource for positive motivational videos, relaxation techniques, inspiring quotes, etc.
- Draw, paint, dance. Dive in to any activity that gets you going and fills you with endorphins. The more we fill our lives up with the positive, the less space there is for the toxic.
How do I break free from physical and chemical toxins?
Here is where you’re going to have to work the hardest, but it’s also where you have the most control. There are a lot of physical toxins in our lives. For example, chemical pesticides, like those used in large scale agriculture to control insects, often end up in our food. Many studies, including ones from Malaga University in Spain and RMIT University in Australia, have found that pesticides can harm our neurological system and cause reproductive harm. They are also associated with a variety of illnesses, including cancer.
Some solutions for physical and chemical toxicity:
- As much as you can, limit your exposure to toxic chemicals by buying organic food. If you don’t have access to organic food, make sure to wash fruit and vegetables thoroughly, or even remove the skin.
- Eat unprocessed food. We’re not saying that you HAVE TO eat only fresh foods (though we’d love that!), but try to eat fresh as much as possible. Processed food can contain chemical substances that build up in the body. There’s a rule of thumb most doctors and nutritionist love to use: If the product has a long ingredient list with a bunch of stuff that’s hard to pronounce, get it out of your shopping cart!
- You can also limit your exposure to chemicals absorbed through the skin by gradually changing out things like shampoo and deodorant with chemical-free options. Recently these choices are much more available in most stores, and at similar prices. Choosing natural beauty and grooming products can make a huge difference.
- Make a list of all the things in your life that you know do nothing good for your health: cigarettes, alcohol, candy, sugar, forms of self-medication, etc. Remove one, or at least try to reduce its use. In just a matter of days you’ll likely see a difference.
- Add products and supplements to your daily routine that help you detox. Drink more water and green, mint, licorice, and cinnamon tea. Refreshing Hibiscus tea from Santo Remedio is also a great option, especially if you combine it with other products, like Nopal, that work together to cleanse your body, improve your digestions, and cut out fat and sugar.
It’s impossible to live in a completely toxin-free bubble, but we can make better choices, today, to break free from toxicity.
Let’s get healthier, together.
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