I also recommend using shapewear or a pressure vest to help you in extremely emotionally turbulent periods to anchor yourself to your body (here is a good example of shapewear). Shapewear is used by women and men to keep “love handles” and other body parts slim and defined. For our purposes, shapewear is like a hug to the body that will help you feel safe and ‘held together.’ Pressure vests are a little more expensive and they are used by people with sensory integration disorders (such as autism) to relax.
2. DEEP BREATHING
Whether used alone or in conjunction with the above-mentioned technique, deep breathing is a simple and easy way to help you mindfully move through whatever you’re experiencing. This practice is particularly useful when intense feelings such as fear or rage break through. There are many books out there which talk about the importance of deep breathing (such as this one), and there are many online tutorials with breathing techniques. I recommend sticking to something simple, something you don’t have to think about too much, and something that doesn’t feel forced. The point of deep breathing isn’t to follow someone else’s technique perfectly, it is to use your breath (in whatever way suits you), to calm your mind and body. Read more about how to relax using deep breathing.
3. KEEP A JOURNAL OF SAD THOUGHTS
I realize this suggestion may sound a tad bit melancholic, but it’s a practice worthy of your time and effort, particularly if you’re wanting to feel and express your emotions.
In a physical journal or online diary, spend five to ten minutes every day writing down something which triggers even the slightest pang of sadness in you. For example, you might write down a memory of your dog who died, an issue in the world, something someone said to you, a scene from a movie, a daily struggle … or virtually anything that is upsetting (or what you imagine would be upsetting).
Creating a sad thoughts diary has two main benefits. One, it helps you express your emotions, even if in an indirect way at first. And two, it acts as a catalyst for feeling and letting out your emotions, particularly when you need momentum (I’ll elaborate more on this soon).
Always try to finish your sad thought journalling with something uplifting, like reading the uplifting news subreddit, spending time with someone you love, playing with a pet, or watching something entertaining on youtube or Netflix.
4. CATHARSIS (LET IT ALL OUT, BABY!)
When emotionally numbing ourselves becomes our default defense mechanism, we tend to have a huge amount of suppressed emotion lying just beneath our conscious awareness. In order to safely and effectively express your suppressed emotions, try some form of catharsis. Catharsis may involve screaming into or punching a pillow, using your sad thoughts journal (mentioned above) to stimulate sadness and crying, intense emotional-fuelled exercise, impassioned dancing, or dynamic meditation.
Regular catharsis should be a must on your journey. Without regularly ‘letting it all out,’ you run the risk of experiencing the repercussions of festering emotions (i.e. depression, emptiness, chronic illness, etc.).
5. YOGA AND SELF-MASSAGE
Yoga is a well-known way of helping to clear and balance your energy. Not only that, but yoga often has a way of releasing emotions stored in the body. I recommend doing slow and gentle forms of yoga such as Hatha yoga for at least ten minutes a day. Remember, the goal isn’t to become some Instagram-perfect yoga star; it is to connect with your body, mind, and heart.
Our unexpressed and repressed emotions are often stored within our bodies. I like to think of our bodies as being reflections of our unconscious mind: they are maps that help us to figure out what we are keeping locked away, and what unresolved issues we need to face. In my article about chronic muscle tension, I list the nine types of emotions trapped in different areas of the body. In order to release these emotions, I regularly use something called the ‘Acuball’ to introduce fresh blood flow and energy into these tense areas. I like the Acuball because it gives me a deep tissue massage, while also helping me to stay grounded in my body, relax, and release pent-up stress. (You can get the Acuball here).