Alissa sitting cross-legged in athletic wear.

Self-Soothing: Treat Yourself Like a Friend When You Need It Most

wellness Jun 20, 2019

I’ve had a splitting headache for three days.

Apparently your body doesn’t react well when you quit coffee for a few days. Any other daily coffee drinkers ever try quitting?

Well, don’t Just kidding.

So, I just got done with this three day Ayurvedic cleanse. No caffeine allowed, only warm lemon water and tea. On the cleanse, all you eat is this meal called Kitchari. You’re able to eat as much Kitchari as you want and it’s actually pretty good. It’s an easy-to-digest porridge made of basmati rice, mung dal beans, a variety of spices, and your choice of vegetables.

If you want to learn more about Ayurveda and the Kitchari cleanse, check out my friend Jess’ blog. She’s certified in Ayurvedic education and is a wealth of knowledge.

I was interested in doing this cleanse because 1) Jess does it every so often and always feels great afterwards. 2) I’ve eaten like crap the past month and my body feels it. 3) Matt is traveling for work so it’s easier to avoid tempting foods when I’m home by myself.

Unless you count the weird diets I had to be on a few years back, I’ve never done a cleanse. I’m one of those people who gets real hangry when my blood sugar gets low and I’m hungry in the slightest. So, the thought of a juice cleanse sounded miserable to me. The Kitchari cleanse was enticing because it’s actually a filling meal and there’s no restrictions on how much you can have.

Great! Piece of cake.

I definitely underestimated how tough it would be for me.

Day 1: Just Me, Myself, and I

On Monday morning, day one of the cleanse, I was distraught as I realized I couldn’t enjoy my morning coffee on the drive to work.

Coffee is one of the simple pleasures in my day. Without that, I was left to create my own energy in the morning.

It dawned on me. During this three day cleanse, I really couldn’t turn to any external vices to make my day better. My morning coffee, a smoothie, tacos for dinner, a spoonful of peanut butter when I wanted a snack (my favorite). For a few days, that was going to be stripped from me and I was to rely on myself to keep feeling good.

Whew. I suddenly wished I hadn’t done this while Matt was gone because I was just feeling alone and robbed of my normal routine and life.

That may sound dramatic. I can be a little dramatic.

By Monday afternoon, my stomach was burning. I knew it. I’m weird. These things don’t work for me. My body doesn’t digest like other people.

I immediately went to the story I’ve held onto for years; that I’m so different and things don’t work the same for me as other people. I wanted to follow through on the cleanse, though, so I tried to listen intuitively to my body. Ayurveda is about balance. If my stomach was burning, I needed something cooling. I texted Jess to ask her what I could add to my Kitchari to “cool” it.

“Oh, I add a TON of cilantro to my Kitchari. Forgot to tell ya!” was her response.

With more cilantro, less lemon juice, and mint tea after my meals, the burning subsided.

It’s just me, myself, and I this week. It’s a time where I cut out excess noise, extra decisions and simply listen to my body.

Day 2: Knowing When to Call it a Day

No coffee, day two. Man, did the irritability set in.

It didn’t help that I had a dentist appointment at 7:30am and I needed to make another batch of Kitchari before I left the house.

I wanted to keep a positive attitude but it was hard not to be frustrated and annoyed. I wished more than anything I could just have a normal morning. I wanted coffee, eggs, gluten free toast. I didn’t want to go to the dentist. I thought of scenarios where I could just quit this cleanse without feeling bad about it.

Why am I doing this to myself by choice?

But, I shook it off. It’s only three freaking days. You can do anything for three days. So, I tried my best to shut off that nagging voice and get in a better headspace with my favorite podcasts.

By 3 o’clock, I had a pounding headache. Like, temples throbbing, little men dancing on my forehead. This is when the caffeine withdrawal really hit me hard and I still had to be at work for another three hours.

If you’d given me a bed right then and there, I would’ve passed out. Instead, I walked into the work kitchen to find a giant cookie on the counter. Ugh! I walked past it to heat up more Kitchari. Stay strong, Alissa. Stay strong.

By the end of the day, I was beat down mentally and physically. I knew I hadn’t been the friendliest person because I wasn’t feeling great so I felt guilty about that. Because I felt so sick, I thought geez, am I really that toxic that this detox is just destroying me right now?

I caught myself. Be kind to yourself, I remembered.

More than anything, this cleanse has taught me to self-soothe. The thought that continuously came to mind over the past three days is, what would feel nourishing right now?

I made it my job to find how to nourish myself mentally, physically, and emotionally when I was struggling. I listened to so many podcasts throughout those three days; like more than usual. I think I was craving nourishment of the mind and soul.

What I needed at the end of that difficult day two, though, was a nice warm bath, a good book to sink into, and an early bed time.

Day 3: Change Your State

8 hours of sleep later, I woke up with a still-throbbing head.

What the hell? This isn’t gone yet?

I laid in bed feeling angry, not looking forward to the day ahead. It was cloudy outside, again. We had a department meeting today where I’d have to present in front of the entire team. I racked my brain for ways to just skip out on this day. I didn’t want to get up.

With Katin jumping on me and meowing in my face, I knew I just needed to bite the bullet and face the day. A phrase from a podcast popped into my head, “if you’re feeling unhappy, change your state.”

Aside from my breakfast, what makes me feel happy? I knew I always felt better after meditation so I listened to a positive affirmations meditation. I felt a little more alive after that. Then I journaled and started writing my blog. After spending an hour doing these activities, I felt refreshed. Nourished.

Instead of feeling like “Ugh, I still have one more day of this.” It was like, “Yay! Last day!”

I didn’t want to stay in that grumpy, low vibe state so I did what I needed to do to pump it up.

It made me realize how incredible easy it is to stay in a low place when you don’t change your state. If I’d just laid in bed for another hour dreading the day, I would’ve inevitably brought that bad energy into the rest of my day.

Although my head was pounding again, all day long, it was a pretty good day. I noticed I had barely any anxiety before going up to speak in front of the group, when normally I’d be incredibly anxious. Due to the detox? Maybe. Just getting used to uncomfortable situations? Also, maybe.

Though I was getting sick of my Kitchari, I tried to enjoy each meal as much as I could and remember how nourishing it was for my body.

After work, I stopped at the grocery store. I wanted goodies to celebrate the end of my cleanse the following day. I grabbed myself a bag of gluten free pretzels and a tub of Kite Hill vegan cream cheese. It took everything in me to not break into them Wednesday night. Really livin’ life on the edge over here!

I ended the last day of my cleanse on a strong note. I spent time in my teepee with Katin and just enjoyed the sounds of our backyard. I did a restorative yoga class. I was asleep by 9 o’clock.

The moral of the story? When you’re feeling crappy, treat yourself like you’d treat a friend. Treat your body, mind, and soul with love. Ask yourself, what would nourish me right now? Find ways to self-soothe that don’t always involve a glass of wine or a bag of chips. Trust me, that’s often been my go-to and that’s why this cleanse was so challenging for me.

When you’re feeling down, look for ways to change your state. A walk, some stretching, laughing on the phone with a friend can do wonders for your mental state. This cleanse reminded me that I do have everything I need inside of me, and so do you.

With love,