Detoxing is a mental process as much as a physical one and a little preparation goes a long way. The first step is to understand what signs to look out for when your body needs to detox. The physical effects of an overload of toxins – found in pollution, food, detergents and so on – are typically tiredness, weight gain, dull skin, moodiness and bloating.

While our bodies are built to cope with toxins, problems occur when we start to take in more chemicals than our bodies can deal with. A detox done properly can mean better sleep, brighter eyes, clearer skin, more energy and inner calm.

There are several simple first steps to take…

Decide when to begin your detox. After Christmas is a popular time, but spring, with its life-giving properties, is a great time to start too. A big event, like a wedding, can also provide reason and motivation.

The next step is to decide what type of detox is for you in terms of duration and what you want to get out of it. Write these aims down.

All detox plans focus on a change of eating habits which means a special diet, fasting or a combination of both. A quick-cleanse detox takes 2-3 days but the most effective cleanses last between a fortnight to a month. Most participants start to notice changes after just a few days.

Start getting into good habits one month before. Slow down and start to cut out processed foods, refined sugar, preservatives, alcohol, salty foods, additives, tobacco and caffeine. Purge your kitchen. Clear your cupboards and fridge of foods which might tempt you.

Begin shopping for the right foods. Organic is best. Stock up on fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Also try to make one meal a day completely ‘raw’ (uncooked).

Get your body used to drinking a glass of warm, filtered water with lemon first thing, which kick-starts digestion and aids your immune system.

Start to eat consciously. Learn to chew each spoonful until the food is liquid, this also aids digestion. Drink two litres of water a day, but remember not drink during meal times as this impairs digestion.

Mentally prepare for possible side effects. Your body will release toxins and for some people this can result in mood swings and headaches. Practice coping strategies for if they strike.

If you have any allergies or a medical condition, check with your doctor before detoxing.

Lastly, don’t set yourself unrealistic goals. Remember that a good detox is about health and dropping a dress size should be an added bonus rather than the main aim.

Many people find the rigours of detoxing too difficult to handle alone and that a communal spirit in a managed environment makes all the difference. It’s one of the reasons why in:spa retreats are so popular, so why not check out our upcoming retreats.