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November 12, 2017  |  5:22 am

7-Day Soul Cleanse

Day 1. Deal with your digestion.

Over 60% of Smart Girls have a current digestive health issue and this poses more of a problem than simple discomfort. Science has now proven our digestion (or to be more specific, the balance of our intestinal flora) has a huge influence on our moods and our overall mental health. Because everything is connected: if your gut is inflamed your brain sends out a stress response and your adrenals get pumping. Fun times…

Smart Girl Challenge: for the next seven days eat foods that nurture your gut microbiome. I share a list of these on page 117 of Smart Girls Screw Up Too. Then, cut out everything that makes a good gut turn bad. We’re talking gluten, processed foods, booze, carbohydrates and all the other nasties I list in my book.

Day 2. Find meaning in what you do.

Over 70% of Smart Girls are in the midst of an existential crisis at any one time, with 80% claiming that the work they do isn’t the work they want to do. Most of us turn up to our desks daily wondering what it’s all for. Sound familiar? It did for me.

Smart Girl Challenge: If you don’t like what you do, the solution is very simple: change it. But like all simple solutions there is a caveat: no point in jumping until you know where you want to land. So how do you survive in the interim? You write a list of all the things the money you’re getting from the job is giving you. Things like holidays, time off, freedom etc.  By changing the way, you see the role of the job you will find a lot of strength to keep going until you can make the change necessary. And then you hire a coach to help figure out what to change so you can find meaning and fulfilment in your work.

Day 3. Pay attention to your environment.

This next one is based on one very simple truth: the environments we spend most of our time in change how we feel. So if we feel bad, we need to change what’s around us and the more time we spend in an environment, the more of an impact on our mood it can have. For most of us, that means our work environment and our online environment are by far the most important to address. Let’s face it, that’s where we live most of the time. But despite being addicted to our online accounts, a staggering 65% of Smart Girls feel worse after reading our social media feeds than before we logged on. Of course, the answer to that one is also simple: log off!

Smart Girl Challenge: On Page 178 of Smart Girls Screw Up Too you’ll see a diagram that will help you assess the role of each environment on your wellbeing.

Take a look and make the necessary changes (remember, baby steps). For example, you could begin with being more careful about the media messages you put into your mind. The more you access social media and compare yourself to others, the more depressed you will feel; that’s why the majority of us feel down after reading our social media. In that instance, a small step you might take would be: try to spend less time doing that and more time focusing on the brand new you we are creating.

Day 4. Unleash your creativity & play more

According to my research, over 60% of Smart Girls have lost the ability to play and 65% haven’t created since they were five years old. That’s not ideal, because play and creativity are the keys to uncovering a flow state – that awesome place where time stops and we feel totally present. Just ask any extreme athlete why they are able to push the limits of human performance and feel incredible most of the time and every single one will tell you the same thing: it's ‘flow’. And the best part is flow is accessible to all of us. All we have to do is to figure out the thing that triggers our flow state.

Smart girl Challenge: find something that inspires you, the thing that makes time stand still. Now make a regular practice of it. Because the more you do that thing that naturally takes you into flow, the more you’ll be able to access flow in other parts of your life. And yes, that includes your work. If you need help to figure out what that is go to flowgenomeproject.com and take the quiz now and then allocate two hours next week to doing something that primes your smile.

Day 5. Shhhhh…..

We all have busy lives - that’s somewhat unavoidable in this day and age - but I ask you this: is your ‘busyness’ actually something you do to escape yourself?

Because ‘busyness' is not the same as ‘productive’. ‘Busyness’ leads to burnout and that triggers all kinds of diseases from IBS to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. It's no surprise that 90%+ of depression sufferers report feeling better after a walk in nature while those who take a walk in a shopping mall come away feeling worse. The lesson there is that stillness and calm are not things to be avoided. They are to be embraced.

Smart Girl Challenge: Commit to at least ten minutes a day to sit in stillness. For the first five minutes sit in meditation and for the second go and marvel at the wonder of nature. It could a falling leaf, the sound of the ocean or the smell of fresh cut grass. But whatever you choose, please nurture it, and over time it will provide you all the insight and wisdom you need to make the right decisions to support your overall health and wellbeing.

Need a helping hand? Download the headspace app and start with their ten free meditations.

Day 6. Surround yourself with your tribe.

Over 60% of Smart Girls claim that when they hang out with their friends, they spend more time complaining than encouraging each other to be their best selves. What you listen to not only impacts your mental health but also your gut health. This causes inflammation in our bodies and that inflammation over time turns into lifestyle diseases like depression.

Smart Girl Challenge: head to page 204 of Smart Girls Screw Up Too and take the keep, seek, ditch exercise. For the next month, be discerning with your friends, choose people to spend time with that nurture and nourish you and say no to the rest and see what happens.

Day 7. Be kind to yourself first.

Most Smart Girls claim they find it difficult to be compassionate towards others. Imagine what that means in relation to self-compassion? Compassion is a heart-trait, it's something we're able to do when we love ourselves. Self-compassion in practice is going to yoga class or running yourself a hot bath when you're feeling less than your best versus going out for Friday night drinks and waking up Saturday feeling yucky. It's about reassuring yourself when you're feeling a little down that you’re doing the best you can and that is the best you can do right now.

Smart Girl Challenge: ask yourself ‘how can I practice self-compassion this week?’ by tapping into your needs and honouring them. Page 18 of Smart Girls Screw Up Too gives you a fun exercise to begin this process.