How Emotional Release Can Improve Our Lives
Why we need emotional release and how to do it
The last few weeks I’ve been having a lot of emotional releases. I’ve been feeling how things have been cleaning up inside of me: how everything that I’d accumulated and kept inside me has been cleansing: things and stresses from school, sports and work; not working and doing what makes me happy; the feeling of being trapped, of being unseen and unloved; suppressing myself and my feelings
In this article I’m gonna talk about the connection between accumulated emotions and health problems, how emotional release can help with that and how to do emotional releases.
The last few years it has been very hard for me to tell and know how much of the discomfort, pain and burnout symptoms that I’ve been feeling are really physical problems versus emotional problems manifesting as physical pain.
Am I burned out because I pushed my body and mind too much? Do I feel burned out because I worked too much, drank too much caffeine and didn't get enough rest? Sometimes that’s the case, but often I can’t justify that because I hadn’t been pushing myself physically too much that it would make sense.
So over the years I’ve come to realize, that if a problem - physical pain of discomfort - lasts longer than usual and that nothing from my staple physical and lifestyle practices - physical rest, stretching, yoga, shaking, breathwork, hormetic stressor as cold or working out and training - seems to work and help me to feel better, the problem doesn’t lie in the physical realm but elsewhere and it’s just that symptoms are manifesting on the physical level.
After none of these practices helped, I slowly “remember” and come to the realization that I need to work on my emotional or spiritual well-being and health.
Over the years of dealing with fatigue, pain and burnout, I also slowly started to realize that my burnout and chronic fatigue are the result of accumulated things over the years.
Years of pushing my body and mind past and through the fatigue with sport, years of suppressing my feelings, emotions and whispers of the body and stored and accumulated stressful and traumatic events and experiences from the past.
Sometimes I have to process some emotional stuff that I’ve been accumulating. Usually it’s the uncomfortable emotions and feelings that I’ve repressed and stored in my body because I didn’t want to feel them, I ignored them, said “F*ck it!” and kept going on without processing them and are now causing me physical discomfort, indigestion, fatigue and burnout symptoms.
When the malaise and tiredness don't end, we might not have felt our feelings enough.
Emily Schromm, The Process.
Emotions are stored in our physical body
I once watched a cartoon where a kid wanted a carpet that made things invisible in order to get rid of the mess in his bedroom since he was too lazy to clean it up. He got the carpet and with it made the mess in the center of his room go away. The problem was solved and he forgot about it, but the mess was still there, just not visible to his eyes. Then one day he walked into the room, he stumbled and fell on his nose: he had kicked and stumbled unto the forgotten, invisible mess that he thought had made it go away.
If we don't want to listen and honor what the body is trying to tell us with emotions and whispers, we will push those feelings down and repress them. We will forget about them, but that doesn’t mean that we have resolved them.
Inside of us, these repressed and stored feelings and emotions will grow and eventually bubble back up to the surface in another form and cause us different kinds of problems: digestive problems, mental pressures, brain fog, tiredness, fatigue and malaise or even symptoms of burnout.
Connection between accumulated emotions and health problems
Like I wrote in my article Is Accumulated Stress Burning You Out? our body holds onto the memory of every stressor we ever experience in your life.
It’s similar with emotions: We know that feelings and emotions are stored in the body and negatively affect and interfere in its normal functioning.
I first came to the realization of how much I’m repressing and accumulating emotional stuff in my body in the summer of 2021 when I attended a holotropic breathwork weekend workshop.
During the holotropic breathwork sessions - type of breathwork technique designed to give rise to altered states of consciousness and raise body’s natural ability to heal and improve the physical, emotional and mental health and well-being - I was able to locate the tension in my abdominal area and slowly release it out of my body with burping, purging and farting.
Later I slowly started to understand just how much the emotions are connected to our physical body and if we don’t process those emotions, we will repress them and store them in our organs, muscles, tissues, cells and nervous system. So the tension in my belly and digestion that I’m often feeling is repressed emotional stuff that I don’t know I have been accumulating.
One of the best resources that talks about how emotions and trauma are stored in our physical body - our muscles, tissues, fascia, organs and cells - and how negatively they affect our health and well-being and cause a vast range of health problems, is the book The Body Keeps The Score.
In his book The Body Keeps The Score, Dutch professor of psychiatry Bessel A. Van Der Kolk explains very well how the underlying emotional problems manifest in our body.
He encourages us to see the body as a “kind of score sheet of the emotional experiences that his owner has been through.” He also explains how stored memory of past trauma can affect us in a negative way and cause us a wide range of problems: from physical to emotional and psychological ones.
All this accumulated feelings, emotions, stress and trauma can then manifest themself in the present as:
digestive problems and food intolerances,
stress we experience in the present,
our diminished ability to cope with daily stressor,
anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems,
and burnout symptoms and condition.
Dysregulated nervous system and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are also very common with accumulated stress, repressed emotions and stored trauma and can have a huge negative impact on our general health, well-being and mental health.
Emptying The Emotional Tank
We can look at this as a storage tank.
If our emotional tank gets full, we won’t be able to handle more emotions and if we don’t empty the tank, we’re in danger that emotions will spill over the edge and cause different problems.
That’s where emotional release comes into play.
Emotional release will help us release the physical tension, accumulated stress, emotions and traumas in the body and our bodies will be able to function properly: our nervous system will calm down, we’ll be more calm, we’ll feel better, we’ll digest the food we eat better and assimilate nutrients better, sleep better and recover properly, control the stress response better, manage our emotions better, our mental health will improve, etc.
How To Do an Emotional Release?
If we operate from the knowledge that our emotional realm is connected to our physical body, to release the stuff we’ve been accumulating, we have to focus not only on emotional release, but focus on both physical and emotional release.
Physical release of tension will cause the accumulated stress and emotions to be released and come to the surface so we can process them and release them from our body afterwards.
We can achieve physical release of tension with:
Engage in parasympathetic activities: chill, read, go for an easy walk, nature, …
Cut down on caffeine: caffeine masks the fatigue, less caffeine will enable you to bring up stored fatigue, stress and emotions
Deep Healing Rest: Deep sleep, deep meditations, deep naps, etc.
Deep yoga and stretching,
Exercise “Shaking and dancing”
Massage: deep tissue massage, neck massage, abdomen massage, …
Breathwork: relaxing breathing, Wim Hof breathing exercise, DMT or shamanic breathing,
Cold exposure and Sauna,
Fasting: Intermittent fasting or a longer fast
We can achieve emotional release with:
Feeling and Expressing feelings and emotions
Listening to sad and emotional songs and music
Journaling about your problems, how you feel, what emotions are you feeling inside your body
Deep emotional conversation with someone you trust
Therapy: psychologist or psychiatrist
Screaming and shouting
Punching: a boxing bag, a pillow
Emotional detox symptoms
At this point I should emphasize that often the release and detox of accumulated emotions can have some negative consequences.
Emotions can have the same flavor on the way out as it does on its way in.
Emotional detox symptoms can include:
fatigue and exhaustion,
bodily aches and pains,
vivid dreams and nightmares,
urge to change your life radically,
sadness, anger, resentment, insecurity, anxiety, depression, need to cry or scream and other unpleasant emotions.
The longer you keep something inside of you, the more it will grow in size and the more painful it will be once it comes out.
Although these emotional releases are not easy, it also feels good: after every such emotional release, I feel a relief, as if things have flowed out of me a little and I have the feeling that I'm lighter, that my soul and emotional body are a little cleaner than before.
If you’re going through challenging times, I guarantee you that once you move through the discomfort of emotional release and detox, you’ll feel like new.
You’ll have less tension in your body. You’ll feel less stress. You’ll handle better external stimuli and negative emotions. Your digestion will improve. The anxiety and depression will lift up. You’ll be happier, in a better mood and you’ll feel a sense of lightness and positivity.
So don't run away from feeling the emotions and let yourself permission to feel them, even if it’s not pleasant - especially if it’s not pleasant. The more resistance we feel towards something, the more it’s a sign we should do it!
Hear what the body is trying to tell you, respect it, and honor it with your choices.
You got this! 💪
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Very interesting. I have been dealing with chronic fatigue these last few months which has occurred after years of pushing myself and helped out by long-covid. I'm much stronger than I was and I can see that a big part of what's going on now is emotional as well as physical. It's an ongoing journey isn't it?!
Great article. Isn't it paradoxical that the healthy thing is to release accumulated tension and trapped emotions, but this has also negative consequences? Especially if we do it too fast, I would argue.
Striking the balance between healthy and dangerous release is an ongoing challenge. Always remembering to be kind towards ourselves.