The big cleanse: life, body, skin

Monday, February 2, 2009
Image: Getty

Get organised
Can't see your desk under all the piles of paper? Lissanne Oliver can help. Organiser extraordinaire and author of Sorted! The Ultimate Guide to Organising Your Life — Once and For All, Oliver has helped hundreds of lost souls reorganise their lives.

"Feeling overwhelmed is very common when it comes to tackling getting organised," she says. "It seems insurmountable sometimes."

When tackling a big job, Oliver advises breaking each job down into manageable tasks. She says paperwork is the number one sore spot for most of her clients. Paper can be sorted quickly by placing every document into one of four categories: Finish it (anything that is still a work in progress), Forward it (paper that belongs to someone else or forms you have filled out), File it (anything you need to file for future reference) and Flick it (if there is anything you are in doubt about, throw it out).

When it comes to reorganising your house, Oliver suggests checking the configuration of the furniture of each room to ensure it suits your use of the room. Each room should have good air flow and easy access to doorways and windows.

Work with your existing habits, says Oliver. For instance, if you always kick your shoes off when you walk inside the house, set up your shoe storage so that it is right by the front door.

When it comes to clearing out your wardrobe, you need to be honest about what you wear. "You only wear 20 per cent of your clothes 80 per cent of the time,” says Oliver. "Don’t ask yourself, 'Do I wear it?' It's too broad a question. Instead, ask yourself, 'When did I last wear it? How do I feel when I wear it?'"

Try and get into the habit of doing regular clean-outs, rather than just once a year. "To be organised long term, you have to set aside time,' says Oliver.

Body cleanse
'Our bodies can become sluggish over winter and our organs of elimination may not be functioning at their peak," says naturopath Kath Terrill. "A detox is a perfect kick-start to assist with improving digestion, increasing energy levels, clearing skin and improving general wellbeing."

Detoxes are eating plans designed to reduce toxic waste products and improve the quality of the digestive system. They generally consist of "a healthy diet low in potential allergens and toxins and high in fresh foods that are as close to their natural state as possible", says Terrill.

Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, low-fat vegetable protein such as tofu and legumes, and healthy fats such as olive and flaxseed oils. Don't forget wholegrains, purified water, vegetable juices and herbal teas. Cut out red meat, dairy, alcohol, caffeine and sugary, fatty and refined foods.

Naturopath Kate Ferguson says supplements can also be useful as they assist with digestive function. Detox programs are generally undertaken for between three and 15 days. Some people may experience side effects, including tiredness and headaches, which are often withdrawals from stimulants such as caffeine and sugar. However most side effects should disappear in a few days.

To assist your detox, Ferguson recommends gentle daily exercises such as stretching, yoga or tai chi. "This improves circulation and increases blood flow to the surface of the skin." She suggests you should avoid strenuous exercise while undertaking a detox as your body may not be able to cope with the extra strain.

Zing for your skin
You've cleansed your insides, but what about your body's largest organ? "Winter can wreak havoc on our skin," says Carla Oates, author of Feeding Your Skin. Harsh weather and indoor heating can dry out the skin so it often needs special attention at this time of year.

Regular exercise, fresh air and massages will improve circulation. Exfoliation is also helpful. "Regular, gentle exfoliation helps to remove built-up toxins and dead skin cells that have accumulated over the winter," says Oates. It also helps to promote cell turnover.

According to Oates, fruit enzymes make a great natural exfoliant due to the alpha hydroxy acids they contain. The juices of fruits such as papaya, tomatoes, grapes, apples and strawberries can be incorporated into face masks, but do a patch test on your skin first.

Yoghurt makes a great, gentle skin cleanser and unrefined vegetable oils help to lift impurities, restore lipid balance and prevent dryness, she says. Oilier skins should use lighter oils, like jojoba, sweet almond or apricot kernel oil. Make sure you remove them thoroughly with a flannel and lots of warm water. Jojoba oil also makes an excellent face moisturiser for all skin types, advises Oates.

Purifying herbal face paste
This is a fabulous cleansing paste that can be made up and stored in the fridge for up to two weeks. It's great for eliminating impurities and preventing blackheads and can be used daily as a cleanser/exfoliant.

  • 4 tbs fine oatmeal
  • 2 tbs runny honey
  • 3 tsp distilled witch hazel
  • 2 tsp dried and finely ground herbs and flowers (sage, fennel peppermint, rosemary, lavender, chamomile, hops)

Mix all the ingredients to form a paste. Rub into a damp face. Can be rinsed off straight away if used as an exfoliant, or left on for 10 minutes if used as a mask. Do a patch test on your arm before applying to the face.

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