Emotional Release: What It Is, How to Do It, And Why It’s Good For You

Have you ever had one of those terrible days where everything is going wrong?  You wake up feeling crummy and it’s all downhill from there.  In an attempt to salvage your day, you do your best to cover it up.  You paste a smile on your face, hoping the suffering will magically disappear.  But then something happens, and you just can’t keep it in anymore.  Maybe a final irritation is the straw that breaks the camel’s back, or an intuitive person senses what’s going on and their concern makes the floodgates open wide.  On other occasions, you may have been feeling just fine when a movie or story in the news hits a nerve, making bottled up emotions surge to the surface.  Suddenly, all that feeling and agitation comes pouring out.  Sometimes a million other things that have been bothering you for some time join the exodus.  After the rampage, you may feel remarkably better, as if a weight has been lifted from your shoulders.  Or maybe you feel even worse as all that contained misery is being aired out.  Whatever the case, there has been a definite change- the feelings are now exiting your system.

Energy is meant to move.  Air must be inhaled and exhaled constantly, the blood needs to circulate on an ongoing basis, and organs work consistently to keep the body healthy.  Disease occurs when the energy is blocked and the natural processes cease to work harmoniously.  Emotions are simply another form of energy, and caught feelings can be likened to how buildups of plaque lead to heart attacks.  When we feel happy, it is like a wave of deliciousness and we gladly let it flow through us.  Happiness makes us feel relaxed and open, and holding onto a wave of joy is counterintuitive.  Anyone who has tried to capture a happy moment in fear of losing it knows it never works.  Other feelings we don’t like as well, like sadness, anxiety, and fury, also need to move.  Just like happiness, these feelings are reactions to situations and are meant to arise and pass.  Feeling the emotions as they come will not hurt you, but trying to push it down will.  People often become afraid and confused by their emotions.  They may have a hard time acknowledging their reactions in fear that it makes them a “bad” person, or they may be so overwhelmed by them that they don’t know how to cope.  It is quite common for people to suppress and even repress their feelings so they don’t have to deal with them, or in an attempt to prevent the emotion from persisting and taking over their state of mind.  Wow, what a terrible idea!

Any energy that is not released will stay in the body.  The way having inadequate fiber leads to an accumulation of waste in the colon applies to emotions as well.  Feelings actually get trapped in the tissues.  Clearly, they are a burden to the body’s functioning.  This may not cause any problems at first, but over time emotional symptoms like depression and anxiety are common, as well as physical symptoms like digestive issues, colitis, fluid retention, and headaches.

The good news is there is a way to fix this mess.  Emotional release is a standard part of holistic therapies such as acupuncture, massage, cupping and energy work.  In the alternative approaches, the practitioner’s goal is realigning the system.  In the process of doing so, any blockages are loosened and pushed out.  What was once stuck rises to the surface and is released.  There are also more specific techniques that can be used to promote emotional release by targeting specific pressure points or areas.  Going through this treatment may not be pleasant.  The patient can experience intense grief, burst into tears, curl into a ball, be overwhelmed by rage, or feel a temporary spike in anxiety.  In some cases, patients are hit by uncontrolled waves of laughter.  Crying out, screaming, or physically pummeling the chair or massage table is not out of the ordinary. These reactions are a sign that the treatment moved sluggish energy, which is generally positive.  Patients are not always ready for or aware that these treatments can cause such intense reactions, and a good practitioner will know how to explain the outbursts to them.  Emotional release increases overall wellness, decreases pain, increases motor function, and improves overall quality of life.

There are other ways to release emotions, and some of these can be done without professional help.  Journaling stirs up feelings and can remove the blocks by processing what has been repressed.  Talk psychotherapy traditionally includes emotional release.  Some people are more comfortable confiding in a good friend or family member, and always feel like what they have been holding onto disappears once they share their troubles with a kind, compassionate ear.  The gemstone pink tourmaline is wonderful for releasing pain trapped in the heart, and something as simple as prayer can initiate a release of pent up worries.  Mind-body exercises like tai chi and yoga operate on the same theory as Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda, respectively.  The movements stimulate energy centers, meridians, and pressure points, and do away with obstructions as the body is aligned.  Like the previously mentioned first time patients, new students may not understand why they suddenly become an emotional wreck following an exercise class.

If you are having emotional problems, physical problems, or both, chances are they are either largely or partially tied to emotions contained in the tissues.  Finding a method to let them out is in your best interests, even if you feel embarrassed, shy, silly, or are afraid to face what you have kept locked deep within.  Doing this helps you appreciate the power of emotions and will helpfully encourage you to live your life differently in which feeling are acknowledged as they happen and not kept inside for days, months, or even years.