2020 has been a time of significant upheaval, pain and crisis. We could all use a tension release.
The entire world is alone together in a big change that we didn’t want, which does not seem to have an end in sight. Everyone in this world has been impacted by the pandemic. On top of this, my clients in the US are also grieving great racial inequity, which has come from pain and has led to more pain. How do we come through it individually and collectively and deal with the crushing emotions that we are feeling?
I’m going to review 5 unorthodox approaches to managing tension. Now more than ever, we need to be aware of alternative ways to deal with the extreme emotions that we’re feeling in safe and effective ways.
1. The Primal Scream
When we’re in a period of great pain and intense emotion, or if we find out some shocking news that shakes us to the core, one of our first instincts is to scream. This is something that we need to do when we are in a period of intensity and anxiety, and is a basic urge. This type of scream sounds almost animalistic and comes from a deep, painful ache. In times of grief, sometimes we don’t even think twice about releasing this valve. Sometimes, our first fear is, “what would the neighbors think?” At the end of the day, giving yourself this kind of release can immediately help you deal with your pain and anger, and find an outlet for a strong emotion that you can’t put words to. It brings a powerful tension release.
2. Let Yourself Cry
We all have a love/hate relationship with crying. In a world where adults often have to convey strength, calm, professionalism, and maturity, it can be hard to find a time and a place for crying. On the flip side, children have no reservations when it comes to crying. We see our children freely expressing their emotions, whether that be by crying, screaming through their anger, or running around and enjoying total happiness.
It’s important to realize that as adults, we need to let ourselves feel our emotions, and that it’s okay to just let it out. Too often we hide our emotions from ourselves, numbing out with social media, booze, or other distractions. You can’t outrun our feelings; just as water finds it’s level, emotions will find their way in.
The more you can sit with your emotions and let yourself feel them, the more easily you can come to the other side and feel resolution. I invite you to play with this concept if you have a tendency to avoid uncomfortable feelings. If you tend to avoid feeling sad, remember crying isn’t only from sadness. Crying can come from a positive emotion, like laughter or joy, or feeling connected to others, or witnessing an act of great kindness. Watch a movie that you know is going to make you cry (for whatever reason) and feel the benefit of the release that comes with it. Practice feeling.
The value of humor and a deep, guttural laugh is one that simply cannot be understated. Think of those times where you laughed until you cried and how great it felt to be able to let that out. We need to dance, laugh, and let ourselves get ridiculous. Find that humor that makes you laugh like nothing else does. For our brains and for our bodies, we need this kind of release. A good laugh has many short- and long-term effects. Not only can it soothe tension by stimulating circulation and aiding in muscle relaxation, but it can activate and relieve your stress response. It also stimulates your organs by enhancing your intake of oxygen-rich air and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain. So, find comedy that makes you laugh until you cry and enjoy the the tension release!
4. Practice Faith or Spiritual Structure
Whether you’re religious, enjoy meditation, or you have another form of therapy that helps you move through life, finding peace in a guiding structure can help you deal with your emotions. It’s not necessary that you use a religious structure in order to find a framework to guide you. Whether you listen to a podcast that helps you put life into perspective or watch a series of videos that does the same, it’s helpful to find meaning in life’s challenges and know that you can manage your way through it. A religious or spiritual structure can help you more quickly move to meaning, and can provide the support of comfort knowing that you are not alone. Feeling supported, connected, seen and heard in a time of great upheaval doesn’t change the upheaval, but it will help you move through it.
Sex, and orgasms, provide release, often a powerful one. Whether engaging in consensual sex with a partner or through your own masturbation, there is power in connecting and having a physical release. Sex can help relieve tension and stress by raising endorphins and other hormones that boost your mood. It’s also a form of exercise, which can raise your heart rate and help your health. Having a release through orgasm is one of the best ways to relieve pent up emotions that you’ve been holding onto. Consider sex or self pleasure as a go-to for stress relief; you’ll be surprised how quickly it can release tension in both your mind and body.
Which Tension Release Tool Will You Put to Use This Week?
We now know what it’s like as a to feel extraordinarily cooped up, pent up and frustrated. Many of us are carrying excess energy that we don’t know what to do with, as well as emotions that we may have never felt before. And while moving into quarantine was streamlined and filled with strict rules, leaving quarantine mid-pandemic raises constant questions, confusion, and conflicting emotions. We’re often concerned about whether or not we’re making the right choices, evaluating and re-evaluating as the pandemic waxes and wanes.
Everybody’s handling this unprecedented time in our lives differently and we’re navigating our own paths up the mountain. I hope that these 5 unorthodox tools will give you options for tension release in this time of emotional upheaval. Which one will you put to use this week?