It’s a fact that our bodies hold the tension from the stress we feel over the course of our day and often hold onto over time. Giving yourself a daily moment to process those experiences, and finding healthy ways of letting the feelings come out can free you from emotional and physical aches and pains that signal you problems and are screaming at you to slow down and pay attention. It can also prevent the occasional loss of patience with the people you love.
Here are some of my favorite ways of releasing negative energy and emotions:
Footloose that thing
Try dancing to get those negative emotions out. Dancing can connect you with happy memories and feelings instantly. Let your heart guide your movements without judging yourself. If you’re feeling a little self-conscious about it, do it when you’re alone.
Okay, I’m admitting that I do this myself on occasion. I remember growing up in a home full of tension and conflict. Once a week my parents would go out to visit friends and I would happily stay home alone. I would turn on American Top 40 and just dance my butt off for a couple of hours.
Fast forward to adulthood, whenever I come home from a stressful workday, I turn on the music, slip my shoes and socks off, and dance for a few minutes until my body releases the day’s stress. The trick is to not get caught because umm that would be embarassing 😉
Ommm Gonna be Right Back…
When you’re feeling overwhelmed with a sitaution, take a ten minute break from your daily life to slip out and do a short meditation. There are many different ways to meditate, don’t let it intimidate you and don’t let anyone convince you that their way is the only way. You can use mantras which are basically repetitive phrases that train your mind to focus on one thought. You can close your eyes and imagine a burning candle, focusing only on the flame and avoiding any thoughts that intrude. You can use a sound, either your own by repeating the word Om, or an external one like the bell of a meditation bowl. I’ve only named a few here but any meditative practice will help you release negativity from your mind.
Here’s an example from The Daily Calm:
There are also loads of phone apps and audios available out there. A daily meditation practice, even as short as ten or fifteen minutes a day, can help you pinpoint where your negative emotions and stress are hiding in your body. Meditation is not just relaxing and uplifting but it’s also a great way to lower your blood pressure, cortisol levels, and anxiety. It can also help you sleep better at night.
Need some inspiration for what you meditate on? Get your free guidebook and audio recordings and learn how to release negative events and experiences with these 3 Amazing Meditations for Healing!
And then there’s this guy…
Nothing like a long hyperventilation session and sitting on an uncomfortable rock to forget about your troubles and get back into your body. The truth is that he’s on to something powerful. Deep breathing helps oxygenate your brain and body, and has all kinds of positive health benefits: stimulates lymphatic and immune systems, increases energy and calm, lowers blood pressure, and the list goes on and on.
You can find Win-Hof’s method on his website here: winhofmethod.com. If you’re not into it, just take three deep breathes whenever you find yourself becoming tense or losing your cool.
Taking a moment during stressful or negative situations, or when negative memories pop up, to take a few deep breaths, can help you re-focus your mind and bring your body back into balance. There’s even evidence that it can help strengthen your immune system. Breathing in itself is also part of the meditative process, helping the body and mind relax and become more receptive to solutions. Okay, so maybe Mr. Hof is a little intense for some of us, but his message is valid. Deep breathing is therapeutic and essential for well-being. Try it and tell us below what you think!
Get Back Into Your Body
As you sit and practice your daily meditation, you can also take a minute to just listen to your body. Notice how it feels. Are there any sensations like tingling, pain, or pressure? It it cold, hot or just right? How do your clothes feel on your skin? Does your body feel comfortable? Do any feelings or memories come up? This practice can help you find out why you might be holding onto something, and to remember what that might be.
It goes without saying that for anyone who’s experienced trauma, the phrase “getting back into your body” is a familiar one and holds deeper meaning. I’ve heard several massage therapists talk about how the body holds traumatic events and how bodywork can help release it. Our mind can try to escape difficult feelings but the key to getting past these shocking and stressful events is to allow ourselves to feel what is going on in the body. Using mindfulness techniques can allow you to recognize your own feelings and observe the way your body reacts to them.
The key to feeling in balance physically and emotionally is the express and process emotions rather than suppress, repress or ignore them. As you recognize your emotions coming up, ask yourself why you’ve been holding on to them. Is there a need that you’ve been ignoring? Do you feel insulted, unappreciated or unfairly treated? Are you afraid or angry about something? Focus your attention on that. You can use other methods below to better express these emotions once you name them.
Have a Good Cry
Okay, so revealing another technique I’ve used whenever a relationship ended in the last, I present to you…the cry. UCLA’s Dr Stephen Sideroff says that crying can be a positive healthy experience that allows you to open yourself up and really see what’s inside your heart. There’s physical evidence that crying can help deal with stress. Research shows that tears carry stress hormones and manganese, helping the body release muscle tightness and activate your nervous system to help restore balance.
I’ve been known to show very little emotion during a break-up, only to walk home, strip my clothes off, jump into my shower and cry my eyeballs out for 5 minutes without ever mentioning it to anyone. Not the healthiest response but in the moment, it works. While this image would be terrifying to anyone who witnessed it, I actually find it extremely cathartic because it allows me to release my anger, sadness, and other negative feelings in a healthier way then taking it out on my ex partner who has every right to speak his truth. Acceptance doesn’t come immediately. It takes time to process big changes. Give yourself a safe space to do it. Plus, a shower has the added benefit of providing white noise for anyone not living alone.
I’m not suggesting that you keep everything to yourself and become an anxious ball of depression and sorrow. On the contrary, reaching out to a loved one and talking things through is this case would be the best and healthiest option. But people aren’t always available immediately. You should definitely consider speaking to a professional if you’re feeling unsupported or alone. But it the moment, when you’re feeling confused, or conflicted, or even having second thoughts about your decision, try releasing some pressure why having a good cry.
Set a New Intention
When we neglect our bodies and repress our negative emotions, some work is needed to re-balance ourselves. Having a self-care practice and setting positive intentions for healing and well-being can help bring alignment back to your life. When your experiences are negative, it can be hard to let them go.
Use this daily exercise and repeat until you feel you’ve let it go:
… I still feel … when I think of you.
But I forgive you for … because it is no longer serving me.
As of this moment I let go of all …
I send you love and light as we go forward separately.
Take the time you need to set the intention of letting something go, even when you’d love to hold onto it. You’re not giving a free pass to anyone, you’re not condoning any negative or toxic behaviours, you’re just putting your own health and inner peace first.
“The key is to not resist or rebel against emotions or to try to get around them by devising all sorts of tricks; but to accept them directly, as they are.”
Work it out
You can use any kind of physical activity including kickboxing, weightlifting, running, yoga, hiking, cycling, or swimming. As long as you get your body moving, the type of workout you do doesn’t matter. Take at least 30 minutes out of your day to disconnect from your head and connect with your body. A daily exercise practice can help you feel more balanced and aware of your emotions, as you can express and release them in a healthy way. But Yoga in particular can really help us process emotions and help improve anxiety, depression, helping improve mental clarity and deal with negative emotions.
Yoga helps connect mind and body in a way that creates balance, counters bad posture and stress in our body. It can bring peace of mind and allow you to be more disciplined about other activities in your life, moving you out of your head, and into you heart and body.
Do a Paper Burning Exercise
Putting thoughts in a personal journal might seem like an over-simplistic way of dealing with negativity, but it works. Writing is therapeutic and helps you learn things about yourself. But sending it out via email or text isn’t as therapeutic when we’re trying to let something go and move on. Journaling is a safe space for saying things you might never say out loud. It’s also a place to get creating about problem solving and brainstorm. But more than that, the physical action of writing things down can help you process the emotion attached to the words and better describe your thoughts.
Have a daily practice of 10 to 15 minutes of journaling to help you feel unstuck after a hard day or a difficult event. Ask yourself these questions as you do this:
What about your life right do you wish you could change? What is the biggest source of frustration? What about the situation needs healing, attention, or change? What strategies can you use to change it?
Optional: Take a small piece of paper, write down one thing you wrote in the journal and fold it up. Bring it to an area where its safe to burn something like concrete, driveway, fireplace, or barbecue and set the pages on fire.
The fire is symbolic of transformation and release. As you watch it burn imaging your negative emotions being released into the air and floating away.
DISCLAIMER: PLEASE MAKE SURE YOUR FIRE ALARM IS IN WORKING ORDER AND IF BURNING INSIDE LET BURN FOR A FEW SECONDS AND THEN SNUFF OUT THE FLAME IF POSSIBLE.
If even one of these techniques can help you release the negative feelings from a tough day, you’ve already won. Try these out and comment below on your results!
Copyright Authentic World Inc 2020, Michelle Thompson 2020
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
My name is Michelle. I’m a postgraduate qualified professional with over twenty years of experience as a group facilitator and public educator. I’ve helped thousands of people re-imagine their lives and create concrete plans for self-improvement. I’ve facilitated dozens of workshops and support groups on topics like stress management, mental health and wellness, goal setting, grief counselling, safety planning, and confidence building. I’m a former social worker and crisis services coordinator, and after working for eight years as a non-profit consultant, I felt a strong desire to return to helping people. I created Authentic World Inc, an international life coaching company that offers one-on-one support and self-directed courses on personal development topics. I also teach philosophy part time at Carleton University in Canada’s national capital. In my coaching approach, I consider the teachings of the modern philosophers of our time and use a holistic method for teaching you how to become more compassionate towards yourself and improve the quality of your life in the process.
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