My Therapist Says

My Therapist Says To Try an Elimination Diet for the Soul

As the pandemic recedes, I’ve got to decide what kind of life I actually want to live

Michele Bigley
Published in
5 min readApr 7, 2021
Illustration: Xinmei Liu for Elemental

When school let out for winter break of 2020, I finally started to lose my shit. It wasn’t the holidays, a possible election coup, my kids off Zoom school for a couple weeks, writing deadlines, managing my newsletter, or having to ready my online classes for a January 4 start date that had me at a breaking point. It was the upcoming vaccine rollout.

Everyone was starting to plan their vacations; schools were talking about bringing the kids back to campus; my partner was talking about going to a fall 2021 concert. Yet, I felt anxious. At the culmination of a year when we were all put on a public pause, but were expected to fully function digitally, after I’d figured out how to bedazzle my kids’ quarantine lives, and to some extent, my own, I realized we’d have to pivot from our new normal into a new new normal. I’m a dancer, and even for me, that’s a lot of pivoting.

On a beach walk with my therapist friend, I vomited my fears for after the vaccine, explaining that I didn’t know what kind of life I wanted anymore. She said, “This is the perfect time to get rid of anything you don’t need. Marie Kondo the crap out of your life. Stop doing extra stuff that doesn’t bring you joy.”

“We’ve busied ourselves in 2020 to continue to matter, but this was just to fill time so we’d stop feeling,” she added. Now that the vaccine rollout is (hopefully) on pace to whisk us back into dinner parties and our kids’ soccer tournaments, “we need to think about what we want to retain from the lessons of lockdown,” she said. “You get to decide the kind of life you actually want to live.”

“Cut out everything for a week and see what you need to feel good.”

“But it’s hard for parents to do this in the pandemic,” I argued, not sure she understood that I didn’t have time for a true elimination diet for the soul.

“Just be gentle with yourself and see what happens.”

It was easy to deduct what nonessentials didn’t give me joy. I deleted my social media apps from my phone, set up Freedom…



Michele Bigley

Award-winning writer specializing in regenerative travel, environmental solutions and parenting. Michele’s writing a book about mothering in the Anthropocene.