It’s totally a thing.
Otherwise known as the Herxheimer Reaction, a healing crisis is the temporary worsening of symptoms before they get better.
Have you ever tried to curb a caffeine or sugar habit, only to have massive bags under your eyes, major irritability, and a migraine for days? Then you know exactly what I’m talking about.
What happens is this. Our bodies are constantly detoxing, day in and day out. That’s what the liver’s damn job is.
But when you’re regularly consuming things that don’t always sit so well in the body (this varies person to person, but things like caffeine, sugar, artificial flavors, booze, crappy food, etc), your system has a hard time detoxing all that on a day-to-day basis. The liver can’t keep up, and toxins get stored in our tissues.
When we stop consuming the thing that was an issue, the liver has a chance to play catch up along with all other systems of the body, so we can actually flush all that gunk out. And understandably, they get a little overwhelmed.
This can also be prompted by bodywork of any kind, including massage, energy healing and deep stretching. These are all just another way of squeezing out the stuff we no longer need.
So when that shit is on it’s way out, we feel it in the form of headaches, skin issues, break-outs, nausea, joint pain, brain fog, depression, fatigue, insomnia, congestion, and intense emotions for anywhere from 2-8ish days.
Not fun. I know.
But on the other side of the healing crisis is WAY more energy, clearer skin, even moods, and mental clarity. And less of a dependency on the thing you were detoxing from. It can feel almost counterintuitive to keep going when you feel so shitty, but sticking out makes a WORLD of a difference in the long run.
I know it's tough, but sometimes we have to power through it to get to the other side. Most humans spend a lot of time and energy doing their best to not feel unpleasant feelings (understandably) but sometimes, that's where the deepest healing happens.
Most often we talk about this in a physical sense, but I definitely think that we experience healing crisis’ with emotional healing as well.
Trauma and stress get stored in our tissues (just like environmental toxins), so when we release them through bodywork, detox, stretching, energy work, or just talking it out, we can experience some intense emotional release on it’s way out of the body.
Or, think about the way that sometimes you have to let an issue really come to the surface in order to do anything about it. Most of us have experienced that pivotal moment where things become so uncomfortable, we're forced to make change - even if we're terrified. The moment where shit blows up at work and it gives you the push to quit. The moment where a conflict with a friend lets you know that the relationship is toxic and you can no longer be a part of it.
Sometimes, you have to hit rock bottom. Because then you can finally move on up.
And just like with environmental toxins, once you get through the healing crisis for emotional healing you’ll feel way better, and be able to actually release that hurt instead of letting it stay bottled up inside.
(Just as an aside, I very much recommend working with a therapist if you are working to release a lot of stress or trauma… or even if you’re not! Therapy is awesome!)
What I want you to know is that sometimes, when you’re in the thick of it (no matter what “it” is) things are gonna feel terrible. And then, they will not feel so terrible. And if they keep feeling really terrible, don’t be afraid to get the help you need. Healing is a continuous, lifelong journey, and there will always be ups and downs on the road ahead <3