Lockdown is lifting and Spring is upon us and while most may be doing a bit of Spring cleaning around the house, there could be some lingering negative energy within our bodies that could use a little airing out as well. This is the time to banish away negative vibes and embrace some positivity.
Here’s 10 ways that can help you detox negative energy from the body and welcome in some optimism and change.
Writing can be so good for the soul. Just by putting your negative thoughts to paper you can release them from your mind. And studies have proven that it not only increases communication and memory skills but can even raise your IQ and strengthen the immune system. That’s not all, if you tend to be a nighttime worrier, we now understand that by writing in a journal for 5 minutes before bed can even make you sleep better.
Photo by Rachel Coyne on Unsplash
If you don’t like your thoughts hanging around in black and white it can also be cathartic to recycle it, delete them, shred them up, or even burn them.
2. Be playful
Playing is important for children’s mental and physical development, but it is also beneficial for adults too. Playing releases endorphins (the body’s happy, feel-good chemicals) and can give you an overall sense of wellbeing.
Being playful can support creativity as well as restfulness and can reduce stress in our otherwise busy and chaotic days.
“Play helps us deal with difficulties, provides a sense of expansiveness, promotes mastery of our craft, and is an essential part of the creative process. Most important, true play that comes from our own inner needs and desires is the only path to finding lasting joy and satisfaction in our work. In the long run, work does not work without play.” - Stuart Brown, M.D. from Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul
You can incorporate play throughout your week by scheduling in some time for craft, exercise, or some creative movement. For a playful yoga practice, grab some Yoga Dice and change up your routine by finding interesting ways to link poses.
3. Do The Twist
Depending on the type of negative energy there’s a few different poses that could be really useful. Twists like Marichyasana and Half Lord of the Fishes squeeze the internal organs almost like twisting out a dishrag and can be used to tone the belly. There is some debate about the actual science of this, but the metaphor can be just as cleansing.
Start in Dandasana (Staff pose). You may want to put a block or book under your bum for comfort and to keep you from collapsing into your lower spine. Send your feet you in front of you and push through your heels to switch on the muscles in your legs. When you’re ready, inhale and bend the right leg. Exhale and place the right foot on the outside of the left knee and your right hand behind you. Inhale to straighten through the spine and lift the left hand above. Exhale and hook the left elbow to the right knee/thigh. Inhale to lengthen through the spine again and this time as you exhale twist towards the right from the lower spine all the way up, looking over your right shoulder. Be sure to do twist on both sides for balance.
Twists to release tension in the lower back can also be done on the floor in supine position. Try laying on your back, inhale and bring your knees to your chest. Exhale to bring your arms out to the sides. Inhale to lengthen through the spine, and as you exhale, slowly bring your knees to the right, keeping your left shoulder grounded. If this feels comfortable, look over your left shoulder for a full spinal twist. To come out of the posture, inhale the knees back up to the middle, and exhale to hug the knees towards the chest. Repeat on the left side.
4. Food For The Mood
Photo by Caju Gomes on Unsplash
It’s widely known that what we put into our bodies not only affects our energy, it can affect our mood as well. According to Mind.org, the gut can mirror your emotions. “If you're stressed or anxious this can make your gut slow down or speed up.” They recommend eating a diet with plenty of fibre, hydration and exercising regularly.
Auyerveda is an ancient science of healing from India and has a long history together with Yoga. The principles have stood the test of time and compliment healthy food habits. One of philosophies that can be helpful is eating in season and foods from your region.
5. Meditation & Pranayama
“Meditation is not a way of making your mind quiet. It is a way of entering into the quiet that is already there - buried under the 50,000 thoughts. the average person thinks every day” - Deepak Chopra
Meditation is a great way for releasing some negative mind chatter and giving yourself space for ease and clarity. It’s a practice and like any practice takes some work to master. Most beginner meditations will start you focusing on your breath which leads me into another companion method for banishing negative energy – Pranayama – specific breathing techniques or exercises that encourage life energy into our subtle body (energy channels - nadis, and energy centres- chakras).
A balancing pranayama for correcting negative habits of shallow breathing (a symptom of stress and tension), it helps to use Nadisodhana also known as Alternate Nostril Breathing. To practice, sit comfortably in a chair or on the floor with a straight spine, should back and relaxed, and eyes closed. Tuck the index and middle fingers into the palm of the hand in Visnu Mudra. Inhale fully, and exhale deeply. Bring the right thumb to close the right nostril, and inhale deeply through the left nostril for four counts. Pinch both nostrils with the thumb and ring finger, and then release the thumb and exhale through the right nostril for eight counts. Inhale through the right nostril for four, pinch both nostrils, and exhale through the left for eight. This is one round. Repeat for 8-12 rounds.
For a more cathartic breathing technique – try Simha Pranayama, or “Lion’s Breath”. The style can relieve tension, especially in the face, and can boost self-esteem and confidence.
Sit comfortably in a chair, on the floor cross-legged or with your bum on your heels after a brief child’s pose. Bring your hands to rest on your thighs, palms down. Inhale and lengthen up through the spine gazing down the nose. Exhale fully to release any tension in the shoulders. Inhale again and as you exhale, open your mouth and stick out your tongue drawing your hands up your thighs. As you exhale you will stretch the muscles in your face and make the sound ‘Haaaaaah’ almost as if you were forcefully fogging up a mirror or warming your cold hands. Your mouth should be as open as possible and your gaze to the third eye or keep your eyes closed. This is your Lion’s Breath or roar. Practice 3- 5 rounds of this then relax the face and jaw and take a few deep breaths to end.
6. Create a Positivity Zone
We all know about protective bubbles by now. Why not create a positive space in your home and zone it off. By creating a protected and sacred space for happiness, you can train your brain to calm once you step into this area. In order to do this successfully, it’s useful to set up a boundary like a rug or blanket. You can even close off a space with a curtain or screen. Add some plants for air purifying plants like a Peace Lily or Pygmy Date Palm. Give yourself some tactile pleasures by introducing different textures in the form of cushions, crystals, stones, and beautiful artifacts that make you happy.
This is your space, so bring in whatever makes you happy. Try a playlist, some uplifting scents like Orange, Lemon and Eucalyptus, and take some time to do whatever you like in your happy bubble.
7. Clear away the clutter
Something we all know to be part of Spring cleaning is clearing the cobwebs and the “stuff’ that just seems to sit around and collect in the corners and surfaces of our homes. But did you know that clutter is physical things in our space as well as mental brain fluff that just gets stuck in our heads? We mentally carry around a lot of worries and stress that just seem to fill up like they are weights in a backpack – physically making your shoulders ache and giving you tension headaches.
Check in with yourself, maybe even make this a journaling activity where you mindfully think about your worries and see if any are out of your control. Anything that you cannot change either the outcome of or how you feel about it moving forward, does not serve you. Easier said than done, we know, but at the very minimum, if you cannot let it go forever, can you give yourself 20 minutes to be free from worry and stress. Get in a quite space, lay down comfortably with cushions or on your yoga mat in Savasana and focus on listening to your breath.
8. Create a smudge stick
Burning herbs releases a resinous scent that has cleaning properties for homes as well as people and objects. One of the most well known cleansing herbs to burn is White Sage, but it has recently been discovered to be overharvested and unethically sourced much of the time. However, a more sustainable and personal approach is make your own cleansing bundle for smudging. All you need is twine, scissors, and around 15-20 springs of herbs or scented flora such as sage, rosemary, bay leaf, heather, thyme, eucalyptus, rose buds, lavender, and/or frankincense.
To create your smudge stick begin by bundling your herbs together and securing them with twine at one end then snipping them to size. Wind the twine around your bundle tightly to keep the bundle together after the herbs have dried. Tie a knot at the end and leave a little loose twine so that you can hang your herbs to dry for two weeks. To use, light one end of your smudge stick and holding a plate under the bundle (careful not to burn yourself!) start at the Eastern side of your house and move clockwise throughout your home. Smudge the bundle by running it under water and leaving it to dry.
9. Go for a nature walk
Breathing in some fresh air, walking out into the rain, stopping to admire the daffodils and crocus that are popping up along the pathways – these are all brilliant ways to notice the changes of the season and optimism of a new and budding year.
The practice of walking out into nature for cleansing the soul and welcoming positivity even has a name – Forest Bathing.
“This Japanese practice is a process of relaxation; known in Japan as shinrin yoku. The simple method of being calm and quiet amongst the trees, observing nature around you whilst breathing deeply can help both adults and children de-stress and boost health and wellbeing in a natural way.”
- Forestry England
Forestry England has some great tips on how to get the most of your forest bathing experience. They recommend switching off your devices, going slow, taking deep breaths and noticing the sensory sensations around you.
10. Create your own Happiness Ritual
Your own happiness ritual is about giving you a brighter outlook either by looking forward to it coming up or by feeling a release of negativity after it’s gone – or maybe it’s just an escape for an hour or two away from the normal humdrum.
What makes you happy? Sometimes we all need time for that one guilty pleasure - a glass of wine, a romcom on Netflix, lacing up your shoes for a run, or finding a quiet spot to read a book. This is not the time to feel shame or guilt about taking some “you time”. This is your ritual and just by claiming it as a ritual, you are giving it place and purpose in your life. It’s important, it’s spiritual to you, and it makes you happy and complete. So whatever it is that makes you happy, make it ‘a thing’ and make it regular. When you give yourself time for happiness, you’re looking after your wellbeing - and that’s spectacular and deserves recognition and respect.