Having big, intense feelings are common in this human experience. Whether they’re feelings of anger, sadness, or happiness, they kind of come with the territory of being alive. While I haven’t heard of anyone complaining that they have too much happiness, I’ve definitely heard people express their desire to get rid of other big, “negative” feelings.
I know on a personal level, I’ve experienced a surge of anger in the last few weeks, and I can feel how my body responds. My upper shoulders/neck area (trapezius muscle) becomes rock-solid; my jaw tightens; my breath becomes shallow; I toss and turn at night instead of sleeping; I’m edgy and have mood swings; and if I’m super worked up, my blood pressure climbs. And I know I’m not unique in these bodily responses.
I find it helpful to know what my body’s stress cues are so that, when I feel it happening, I can recognize the way the big feelings are presenting. Because sometimes I might have feelings that are hidden below the surface that I’m not noticing in the moment – and this is usually due to me performing some epic mental gymnastics that I might not even be aware of at that point.
Once I notice the big feelings, then it’s a matter of acknowledging them and processing them. From a physical standpoint, I’ve developed quite the arsenal of coping techniques:
*Punch the air – Pretty self-explanatory. Pretend you have a punching bag and have at it.
*Actually punch a punching bag – I have one, and it’s helped me release so freaking much. It’s especially useful for me to pretend that I’m punching the person who’s on my list at the moment (hello, Brett Kavanagh, I’m talking about you). Pro tip: Just be sure to wear gloves to protect your hands.
*Punching a pillow – While not as satisfying as punching a bag, this is a decent substitute.
*Going for a run – Pound the pavement instead, connect to your breathing, and allow the fresh air to help dissipate the intense feelings.
*Walking in nature – A great alternative, especially if you’re not a runner. Slow your breathing down and allow the fresh air to clear your head.
*Going for a swim – If the water is your place, allow it to help you cool your jets. Bonus if it’s in the ocean, as salt water is a great energetic cleanser as well.
*Stomping up and down – Let your two-year-old self have a nice tantrum and get jumping!
While this isn’t a complete list, it’s a nice starting point on physical ways to help release big feelings. What are your favorite physical release techniques?