The time before the festive season arrives is usually one for cleansing. As homes are prepared for the busy months of entertaining ahead, it's worthwhile to check in on other important aspects of our life to see if they too need an overhaul. We spoke to three experts for tips on how to detox our homes, our relationships with people, and with food.
Home: Rohini Rajagopalan, founder, Organise with Ease
For Rohini, the key is to “edit, edit, edit”. “Be mindful of your consumption—what you have vs what you want—and take stock of every nook and corner. If you're not going to use an item, please give it away to someone who will,” she says. For those embarking on a year-end “spring” clean, these are her top tips:
Start with small spaces.
“It could just be one niche in your house—a shoe cupboard; a bag cupboard—eventually covering more spaces over a period of time. Don't attempt to do it all in one day.”
A home for everything.
“Take similar items, group them together, and define a space that they can occupy in your home. This makes it easy to do both, find those things when you need them and also know when you need to buy more.”
Keep everything visible.
“Decant items in your pantry in clear containers to keep track of what you have. Have baskets to put your backstock in—this makes it easier to understand when to order for more. Same thing with clothes—as much as possible, keep things that you use every day hanging or in drawers that are easy to access.”
Relationships: Tanya Percy Vasunia, Psychologist
“Important times of year such as Diwali, Christmas or Eid often bring about celebration, and for many, this inspires reflection,” believes Tanya. “When surrounded by friends, family or simply the festive spirit, if you find yourself feeling low, anxious or uncomfortable, it might be a time to pause and reflect on what is creating these feelings.” She suggests the following tips to help recognise and reset patterns.
“I believe it is helpful to journal strong feelings or arguments just after they occur, giving yourself a few days, and then looking back on what you wrote. It’s a great way to spot patterns that may be unhelpful to you and your relationships.”
“Relationships are never simple. Each dynamic brings out different aspects of yourself. It's important to be kind to yourself and always check in with yourself: ‘how did that interaction make me feel?’”
“If an interaction or dynamic leaves you with not a great feeling you may need to explore that and see what you can do for yourself; for example, create more boundaries, talk to the person involved, or go speak with a therapist.”
Health: Dr Juhi Agarwal, Clinical Nutritionist
For most people, food is joy. “Of course people seek comfort from food. It is fuel and nourishment, yes, but it’s also connection and memories. I do believe that life would be boring if we didn’t associate food with happiness,” says Dr Agarwal. At the same time, she believes that it’s important to have a healthy relationship with food to balance pleasure with nutrition. Ahead, she explains how.
Avoid negative associations.
“When we label enjoyable foods as bad and we try to omit them from our lives, we are associating them with a negative emotion. We will avoid them for weeks, months, until we reach a stressor or a tough situation, and our mind automatically goes towards something forbidden. That’s when the binges start and that’s when the guilt happens. Eventually this will lead to you believing that seeking comfort food means eating unhealthily or eating badly.”
Use portion control.
“The way to manage this cycle is understanding that while the food itself might not be good or bad, an excess of it may not be good for you. You can have a few slices of pizza, and balance them with a good portion of something nutritious, like a stir fry, soup or grilled chicken. This way you get an adequate amount of carbs, proteins, fats and fibre, which is something we call the complete plate.”
“To reset your system after a period of indulgence, first, get back to your normal eating schedule. Second, eat very light meals—one-pot balanced meals or what we call ‘mono meals’ such as khichdi, chicken noodle soup, a vegetable pulao; some people also enjoy smoothies. Third, get enough sleep and start adding realistic and consistent workouts to your routine. Avoid juice cleanses or restricting food groups; this will only deprive your body of essential macronutrients and lead to binges.”