I knew that I needed a mental detox.
It was a sunny Saturday and despite being outside playing with my kids, enjoying the weather, my mind felt cloudy and bogged down with thoughts.
I sent a close friend a text message that said, “I just wish my brain would stop thinking about work.”
As much as I wanted to enjoy the moment, I couldn’t quite get my mind in the right space to be fully present and relaxed.
“What a way to ruin a perfectly good day,” I thought.
It wasn’t the first time that I felt that way, but this time was different. This time, I knew exactly what I needed to do to get my mind together so that my mental funk didn’t continue.
What is a mental detox?
Mental detoxification is best described as clearing or decluttering your mind. Essentially, it’s resetting your mind back to a more balanced state. The result is experiencing peace of mind, relaxation, and clarity.
Just like a physical detox cleanses the body of toxins and restores health, a mental detox, or cleanse, does the same for the mind. In fact, the two go hand in hand.
Though you may not have known the term “mental detoxification” until now, you’ve probably experienced some of the signs that you’re in need of one.
4 Signs that you need a mental detox
The body always tells you what it needs— the mind included. So it’ll leave clues for you to let you know when it’s time for a mental cleanse.
Here are some signs that you may experience:
1. Constant overstimulation
Also called sensory overload, overstimulation can be quite common, especially for moms. Between noisy kids, devices, and simply trying to think, the brain can just get overloaded with too many inputs. The result is feeling irritable, frustrated, anxious, and often snapping at others.
2. Restlessness caused by constant thinking
Have you been finding it hard to silence your mind? Is your mind constantly running, even when you’re trying to sleep? Thinking about work even when you’re not working?
3. Mental fogginess and lack of clarity
Are you unable to think clearly? Are you forgetful and often absent-minded?
4. Negative self-talk & feelings toward others
Is your mind littered with negative thoughts about yourself and others? Do you find it difficult to think positively? Do you find yourself having a negative continence?
If any of these things sound like what you’re currently experiencing, keep reading to learn exactly what you can do to mentally reset.
Related Post: 9 Tips for Overwhelmed Moms to Avoid Burnout
15 Real ways to mentally detox and reset your mind
You don’t have to attach any electrodes to your head and wait for a zap to declutter your mind.
Instead, I’m going to share some scientifically backed practices that I personally use to mentally detox.
Of course, these recommendations are only one step in your overall mental health journey. Always consult a mental health professional, like our expert therapist, to get treatment recommendations that are specific to your unique situation.
Let’s dive in.
1. Go on a fast
Fasting is one of my go-to practices when I need a mental cleanse. This is something that I exercise as a part of my Christian faith and has been beneficial spiritually, mentally, and physically.
When you fast, the body is able to rid itself of toxins that can cause mental cloudiness, physical fatigue, and other resulting symptoms.
I regularly practice some form of fasting where I abstain from foods for an extended period of time. After these periods of fasting, I always have much more mental clarity, and sharpness, and even shed a few unwanted pounds.
Though you should consult your doctor before doing any type of fast, it’s something to consider. After you’re done, consider the next tip to enjoy sustained results.
2. Change your diet
Our diet has everything to do with how well our brain functions. In fact, the ability to function optimally stems from our gut health.
Doctors have found a direct correlation between the brain and the gut, often referring to the gut as the “second brain.”
The gut can trigger signals to the brain that impact our moods and emotions. So, the saying holds true: You are what you eat.
This means that small changes in your diet can significantly impact your physical, mental, and even emotional health and well-being.
Here are a few things that you can do to help get your mind back to its optimal state:
- Avoid processed foods
- Eat more whole foods — fruits and vegetables
- Drink more water
- Reduce your sugar intake
I can speak from experience and say that implementing these small changes in my diet has improved my overall health.
3. Unplug from your devices
In today’s world, screens are pretty hard to escape. And, although it’s great to have information at our fingertips, this constant consumption contributes to our brains’ overstimulation among other things. This is why it’s so important to unplug.
A survey conducted by Reviews.org found that 71% of adults say that they check their phones within 10 minutes of waking up in the morning.
This means that for many people, the day starts with external influences.
Instead, those critical first moments should be spent expressing gratitude, setting intentions, and mentally preparing for the day.
Unplugging can be difficult— as with any form of detox; however, there are tools available that can help you limit your device usage.
I personally use the focus mode feature and screen time functionality to help limit my time on my devices. Still, I think that the best thing that you can do is to simply put them away to avoid the temptation altogether.
Set a specific time to check your phone for emails and other pertinent communications only. After that, put your devices away and unplug, completely.
As a daily practice, The National Sleep Foundation recommends putting all screens away at least 60 minutes before bedtime to ensure you get a good night’s rest and allow the brain to unwind.
4. Take an extended break from social media
Much of our time spent on devices is spent on social media. According to a report released by Statistica, the average adult spends nearly 2.5 hours on social media per day. That’s up from only 90 mins observed when the study first began in 2012.
What seems like mindless scrolling is over two hours of being inundated with content that influences our self-esteem and decision-making. Our minds are constantly cluttered with the thoughts and opinions of other people on the internet and the results can be damaging.
Taking a break from it all may not be such a bad idea.
This is another practice that I’ve incorporated for over a decade. Some breaks last a few days, while others have lasted more than a year.
Doing so is quite simple: Delete the apps from your devices.
Then, spend those 2.5 hours implementing some of the other practices that I’ll be sharing.
5. Take an “information fast”
We live in the Information Age where we can access anything at our fingertips. From podcasts to books to news articles, there’s no shortage of information and opinions about any subject matter.
However, there comes a point where you can experience information overload. This is where your brain can no longer process all of the inputs, leaving you paralyzed when it comes to making a decision or taking action.
So although there’s nothing wrong with learning, too much information at one time can clutter your mind.
A good way to combat this, which I often use, is to do an “information fast.” This is where you disconnect from the news, take a pause on reading books, and take a break from podcasts and/or YouTube videos for the intent of learning.
Give your mind the opportunity to digest the information that it’s already been given. You may find that after abstaining from these sources for a while, you’re able to develop your own ideas and opinions with clarity.
Not only that, you free up your mind to actually implement some of the things that you’ve already learned.
6. Go outside and enjoy nature without your phone
When was the last time that you literally stopped and smelled the roses? Or soaked up some sun?
Nature is life’s greatest medicine when it comes to our mental and physical health. But, the unfortunate reality is that we spend much of our time away from it. In a study done by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Americans spend 90% of their time indoors.
This means we’re deprived of the benefits of being outdoors like:
- Fewer distractions
- Improved sleep
- Increased oxygen and vitamin D levels
All of which contribute to mental wellness.
7. Move your body & get active
Exercising, in general, is always a good way to gain mental clarity. Simply moving your body increases blood flow and circulation. It also releases endorphins that relieve stress and create a feeling of euphoria.
Getting active and exercising doesn’t require an expensive gym membership. Simply going outside and walking can be beneficial to your physical and mental health. You can also find free workout videos on YouTube that you can do on-demand with no equipment necessary.
8. Practice praying & meditating
Though little research has been done on the connection between prayer/meditation and mental health, the impact is undeniable.
Both prayer and meditation induce a state of calm and peace— the whole goal of mental detoxing.
Depending on your spiritual beliefs, how you approach these practices may be different. Nonetheless, they can both be beneficial in your mental cleansing.
9. Practice mindfulness
Mindfulness is simply being present in the moment. It’s being aware of your surroundings and in tune with your senses. It’s literally stopping and soaking it all in.
When is the last time you intentionally stopped to be present?
If your mind is constantly racing, the alternative is to slow it down and just be present.
How do you feel? What do you smell? How does your food actually taste?
Being more mindful can center your racing, anxious mind back to the present.
10. Declutter your space
I’m a firm believer that decluttering your mind begins with decluttering your space.
When your external space is cluttered, it can often be a reflection of your internal clutter. Ultimately, clutter impacts your ability to focus, adding to your mental stress.
So a quick cleanup— maybe not as extreme as Marie Kondo— will do the trick of freeing up some mental space as well.
11. Start journaling every day
Perhaps your mental clutter and constipation are a result of unexpressed emotions and thoughts. If that’s the case, journaling may prove to be a helpful practice.
Journaling allows you to express those thoughts and feelings that may be taking up valuable real estate in your mind. The end goal is to leave those thoughts and feelings on the pages or, at minimum, journal until you reach a reasonable resolution.
This can be something that you incorporate as a part of your nightly routine to cleanse your mind before bed.
12. Play games, have fun, and laugh
It’s time to bring out your inner child and simply have fun.
When is the last time you played a game or even colored? What about a gut-busting laugh? These seemingly childish activities can do a lot for your mental wellness.
So if you find yourself shading in the pages of your kid’s coloring book, don’t be ashamed. Adult coloring actually has mental health benefits like calming the brain.
13. Outsource and delegate work
Much of your mental space may be taken up by your never-ending to-do list. This can lead to worry and anxiety about all of the things that need to get done.
Here’s the relief: You don’t have to do it all yourself.
List out everything that needs to be done and note all of the things that can be outsourced or delegated to someone else. Then, outsource or delegate them.
You no longer have to worry about it and you also free up your time.
14. Implement a self-care routine
Making intentional time to focus on your well-being is crucial to your mental health. That’s where implementing a self-care routine comes into play.
Though opinions differ about what constitutes self-care vs personal maintenance, the point is finding dedicated time and practices that focus on rejuvenation and relaxation.
If you’re short on ideas, you can check out our post of budget-friendly self-care ideas specifically curated for moms.
15. Talk to someone
Sometimes, you just need to talk to someone— whether it’s a spouse, friend, or licensed professional. Though I’ve already recommended journaling, vocalizing your thoughts and feelings can often be more effective.
Humans are built for connection, so talking to others is natural and shouldn’t make you feel like a burden.
Find someone you trust who can listen, without judgment, and offer another perspective.
Ready for your mental detox?
You deserve to enjoy life’s greatest moments without being hindered by your own thoughts. And now, you know what you can do to make that happen.
The mental detox practices shared are all things that you can implement into your daily life and can be implemented today at no cost. So why not get started?
Great read, as always Fo! I definitely need a mental detox after the past few months. I take a break from social media every now and then because I find it to be a central source of frustration for me. Also, vitamin d deficiency can mimic depression so taking advantage of this beautiful weather is a good way to elevate your mood!
Thank you for sharing!! I actually have a vitamin D deficiency, so in addition to taking my vitamins, I try to make it a point to go outside. 😎