Emotions can't be forced or controlled - they are a natural occurance, a natural rise and fall, a fundamental part of being alive. We can't just snap out way out of it, force positivity upon ourselves (or onto others), nor can we will ourselves into feeling differently. And although you may not be able to control how you feel (what rises emotionally), you can control how you respond and how you move through the emotional experiences you are having because ultimately, you are responsible for what you do with how you feel.
Working with emotions is not a fast track to feeling better, a quick fix, or a trail of positive feelings and good vibes only. Rather, it is a realistic approach that involves accepting your feelings and emotions as natural, learning from them, letting them pass through, and then moving forward from a place of freedom rather than holding on to heaviness.
When your emotions and/or emotional energy is denied or suppressed, a physical price is paid. Chronic emotional tension and suppressed emotion can create and/or aggravate symptoms such as headaches, backaches, tension in the body, chronic pain, insomnia, and other psychosomatic symptoms [Read More About Emotions and the Body Here]
This blog post will provide you with 10 ways to heal trapped emotions, that focus on supporting you with tools and practices for moving emotion and stored pain/tension out of your body using expression and embodiment practices.
1. FEEL IT TO HEAL IT
You've heard this one before. But the truth is, in order to move through out emotions, we first have to start with noticing and acknowledging the emotion as it comes in, and allow it to be felt and experienced, before we can then let it go. A big part of this task is giving ourselves the permission to feel our feelings, and the space to move through it without bypassing or surpassing. Before you can accept your emotions, you have to know and become aware of what it is that you are feeling so that the emotion can then be expressed (See #8)
Focus on experiencing your emotions fully by paying attention to your thoughts, feelings and felt sense (in the body) to develop emotional awareness and emotional release. When you deny, suppress or hold back your emotions - they find a home, in the tissue of your body.
Now I know life is busy, so you may need to intentionally carve out time and space to allow yourself to feel your emotions. This may be a dedicated time each day, it might be 10 minutes in your car to focus on your breath before you head into your house, or it might been during your weekly therapy or wellness appointment. Whatever that looks like for you, the biggest thing is making time and space to let it out - otherwise, like we talk about in last weeks article your emotions will be stored in your body creating all kinds of physical symptoms and pains - and we don’t need any more of that then we already have.
2. PRACTICE NON-JUDGEMENT
First note and become aware of your beliefs, attitudes and relationship to your emotions - as these pieces of information play a big role in your ability and willingness to be with your emotions. Emotions aren’t bad or good, they just are. They are part of our human experience. When we name something as “bad” or “negative” we increase the emotional weight it carries, which increases the amount of tension we store in our body as a result.
If we instead recognize an emotions as an emotion, something that just is, and that they come and go, we have less resistance and adverse reactions to them.
3. LOOK TO NATURE
If we look to nature for information, we see that all things go through periods of expansion and contraction. We have quieter seasons, we have seasons that are for death and seasons that are for rebirth, things that go slowly, and things that happen quite quickly. It’s the same with us. They there are key times in the natural process of development and self renewal.
Emotions ebb and flow like the ocean, they shift and change like the direction of the wild, sometimes they are strong and heavy (like in times of grief), and other times they are soft a quiet. None of us feel the same way all the time.
What lessons can you adopt from nature in relation to your emotions?
How can you bridge the gap between the natural world outside (external world) and your space inside (internal world)? How can you align and merge the two?
4. BE GENTLE WITH YOURSELF
The emotional weight you are carrying is heavy enough, you don’t need to add any stress or tension to yourself by being hard on yourself. Our inner voices and mind chatter can be so mean.
If your best friend was in your shoes, what would you say to her right now?
Affirmations and reminders to offer yourself compassion and kindness as you navigate difficult emotions - the pain of grief, the beauty of joy, and all the in betweens
I will be gentle with myself
I will be tender with my heart
I will only go as fast as the slowest part of me feels safe to go
I give myself grace as I meet all parts of myself and my emotions
I am here, and I love you
5. PRIORITIZE REST
Our days, our lives, and our culture emphasizes busyness over rest. Our lifestyles are hurried, fast paced and leave little room for rest. Acceleration and speed overrides our natural capacity to assimilate changes and therefore throws us into continuous states of transition.
Rest is a natural and sacred medicine that supports healing and growth. We need integrated time for rest, relaxation, restoration and recalibration.
Rest and sleep is essential for optimal brain health, nervous system regulation, management of emotions, anxiety levels, as well as our ability to cope with daily challenges, stressors, and times of change.
One of the most supportive ways I have learnt to prioritize rest is by creating rituals and non-negotiable time to do so. Looking at your week ahead, when can you create time and space to prioritize rest? No other tasks, to-do's or distractions.
Remember, most of us aren't taught to prioritize rest, doing so is a revolution and a reclamation of your self-care. It takes time and intention to retrain our mind and body to prioritize rest.
Self check-in: What type of rest do I need most right now?
What steps can you take today or this week to begin prioritizing rest?
How can I create sacred time and space to rest? What needs to happen in order to make it possible?
Pick 3 things you can do to Ritualize Rest (See #6)
6. RITUAL & ROUTINE
Ritual is a transformative ally in healing, expansion and growth. It is one of the earliest languages of healing and it comes in many forms - dance, drumming, ceremony, chanting, alters, fires, routines, aligning with the rhythms of nature and the moon, etc.
Ritual connects us to our inner essence, the magic that exists within. It also provides sacred space to feel, express and be with our experiences (including our emotions) and when we have space to express - we are able to release the tension from our bodies and unlock our own innate healing potential. Ritual reminds us that in every moment we can begin again and make anew.
The rituals and routines we create and commit to can support out healing, hold space for our transformation, and be a place for also honouring our growth and expansion. Ritual and routine provide a range of benefits and positive impacts on mental health, and emotional wellness. They are a place of self-honouring, a sacred space to honour all that we are - past, present, and future. They are one of my favourite healing tools as they can be created specifically, specially, and symbolically for you.
Ritual can be as simple or as specific as you wish - it can be as simple as a pause in your day for some deep and nourishing breaths, a nighttime routine that honours the hours in the day before and set you up for your most nourishing rest, a mantra, a set of intentions, journalling, gratitude, new/full moon ceremonies, a reading session, a bath, or a candle light as you eat your dinner. Whatever it is, try to tune out what everyone else might be doing or saying is the most helpful ritual and allow it to be something the feels aligned and supportive for you.
What type of ritual and routine do you dream about integrating to your life?
What type of ritual and practices will invite you into the present moment more deeply?
What do you need in order to live our your fullest possibility?
How can you honour yourself more fully through ritual and routine?
Whatever ritual and routine you practice and integrate into your life, be sure to check in with yourself:
Does this ritual or routine soothe and nurture my soul?
Does this ritual feel aligned with the spirit of my healing, expansion, and growth?
7. MOVE YOUR BODY
Issues are stored in your tissues. We’ve talked about how emotion gets stored in the body and the impact that has on our mental and emotional health, so in order to move emotions through us, we quite literally have to move our bodies. This can come in many forms - dancing, shaking, stretching, yoga, walking, going to the gym, etc. Whatever kind of movement resonates with you and your body - do that. Even if its for 5 minutes.
The body has innate ways to release and express emotions - crying, sweating, shaking, laughing, noises/sounds, yawning, talking and sharing. And while these things happen naturally and sometimes spontaneously, we can also consciously choose to support our bodies in releasing and expressing emotions using these very same tools as well.
What type of movement resonates with you most during this season of your life?
What type of movement does your body need most right now? Something gentle or more vigorous? Something long or something brief? Sometime indoors or outdoors?
Allow it to be an experiment and see what resonates most.
Ready to try something new? Get on the Waitlist for Grief Movement Classes and be the first notified when they are live - A supportive yet gentle way to move through your grief.
There are so many ways we can express our emotions, the key is that we do it regardless of how. There is no one right way. Some of my favourite ways are through making auditory sounds on an exhale to discharge emotional energy stored in the body (See #9) and journalling as a form of embodied expression.
Try expressive writing, allow it to be free and unfiltered. Grab a pen and paper, start writing - no one is going to see this so let it all out and don't hold anything back. You can let it all out here without having to navigate a partnered conversation which can feel free and liberating. You're just focused on yourself and your fullest expression.
Set the intention that you are going to release all that has been wound up through this writing exercise and let it all out.
Following this exercise (especially due to the nature and vulnerbailty of the expression) I like to recommend that you shred, rip up or safely burn the paper. This also helps transmute and release the emotional energy tied to the page and what needed to be let out.
Let it out, let it go, and let it be.
Your breath is your superpower, your most natural resource and support for your deepest healing. Without adequate processing and release, emotions become stored in your body, creating additional challenges - emotionally and physically.
I cannot stress the importance of this one enough. I spent years navigating my grief and heavy emotions with shallow chest breathing, often catching myself holding my breath, which has significant impacts on not only the body but the mind/mental health as well. Emotions can affect and impact breathing patterns, and in reverse - breathing can impact your emotional state as well as effect physiological changes in the body.
Shallow breathing restricts our air, blood flow, release of toxins and increases our anxiety and stress responses. Focusing on deep belly breaths stimulates the vagus nerve which calms the mind and the body. When you tap into the power and magnificence of the breath, you will be amazed that this powerful, potent and transformative resource was right here within you all along.
Just a few minutes a day is all you need to begin resetting your breathing to support release of emotional pain, and to begin emotional healing and expansion.
Check out 3 Effective Ways to Use the Breath to Move Emotions Out of the Body
Our emotions, thoughts, and experiences live in our bodies as energetic information. When we don't have the space to process properly, the energy stays stuck in the body and feels like a "block". When the energy paths of the body are blocked or disturbed, illness, weakness, and pain can manifest.
Reiki works to enhance energy flow through the body, and activates your own innate healing potential. Benefits may include - decreased pain and muscle tension, improved sleep, and general enhancement the body’s ability to heal itself.
When you are aligned - mind, body and spirit, your energy field begins to open up. As your energy field opens up, you are able to gain access to the wisdom within, allowing you to cultivate connections with your inner world, deepen into who you are, and reach greater states of fulfillment.
Reiki is useful in dealing with daily stressors, anxiety, anger, tension, frustration and depression, along with other chronic ailments. Reiki does not replace medical treatments or therapies, but can enhance the body’s natural ability to heal.
Think of it like energetic nourishment. Just as you nourish your body and cells with rest, nutrition, water, movement and breath, Reiki supports the life force energy that moves through your body and beyond. Sound like something you could benefit from? Book your Reiki Session Today
As you begin to prioritize fully feeling, processing and moving through your emotions, choose what feels most freeing, liberating and supportive to you and your body. This is going to look and feel different for each one of us. You know yourself and your body best - get to know it, try something new, and feel into what is most helpful. Understanding how emotion shows up for you in your body, where its stored and the most effective ways to release it takes time, intention and experimentation. Have fun with the practices above and explore what is going to feel best for you.
If you need support with emotional release, embodiment, and/or movement practices that support emotional liberation, book a connection call. I would love to support you in finding the right recipe for you and your emotional wellbeing.