Feeling Stressed And Anxious? You May Need An Emotional Release

Medically reviewed by Paige Henry, LMSW, J.D.
Updated February 22, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Life can be stressful and challenging from time to time. As humans, we all face situations that cause us to experience negative emotions like fear, anxiety, and stress. When we don’t know how to deal with these negative emotions properly, we can end up allowing the negative emotional energy to build up within us. If you’re feeling tense, stressed, and anxious, you may need an emotional release

When stress has been building up

If you are a person who chooses to ignore stressful and adverse situations instead of dealing with them when they arise, you may be “stuffing” your emotions. While you may think that you are “handling” the stress that comes your way, trouble could be brewing inside. You may be able to look calm and cool on the outside, but, likely, the emotional energy you’re storing will eventually catch up with you.

Research has found that repressed emotions and stored emotional energy can cause problems with your mental and physical health.

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How emotional energy can impact your physical health

There are many different examples of the negative impact that stored emotional energy can have on your physical body. 

Some of the health challenges it can cause include:

  • Digestive problems
  • Fatigue
  • Problems with vision
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chronic pain
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Skin issues such as itching

It’s not uncommon for people who get massages or chiropractic adjustments to experience a wave of emotion during the process, even to the point of crying. This can be explained by the fact that we store emotional energy in different places in our bodies. When the chiropractor or massage therapist works on that part of the body, we can move in a way that releases the stored energy. With this energy can come emotions that catch many people off guard.

This doesn’t mean that you need to go for chiropractic adjustments or massages to experience emotional release. If you learn how to properly work through your emotions when they are first present, it can help you not reach the place of storing the emotional energy in your physical body.

Release emotional energy

Knowing that emotional energy can impact your physical and mental health probably isn’t enough to help you. If you’ve been in the habit of not processing your emotions, you may not even know where to get started. The following are some things that you can do on your own to try to start working through your emotions and finding that emotional release.

Learn to recognize your emotions

Many people are familiar with the 12-step program used by Alcoholics Anon. The first step of the program involves acknowledging to yourself that you have a problem. This is something that we should apply when learning to handle our emotions.

While it might sound easy to learn to recognize your emotions, if you’re in the habit of ignoring your feelings or repressing them, it can be a little tricky until you get used to it. The following activities may be able to help:

Write about your experience

An article in the Harvard Business Review says how writing about your emotional experiences can help you to become more in touch with the emotions you are feeling. If you’ve been repressing emotions for a long time, you might be tempted to resist doing this because it might not be easy to pick a situation that you feel connects with emotions. That’s okay. If you’ve been feeling stressed and anxious recently, but you aren’t sure why, you can simply just journal about your day or week.

Set the timer for 20 minutes and get writing. Many people find that as they write about different situations, they’re able to find the emotions that they had within the situation. Not only does this help you to become more familiar with the emotions that you’re feeling, but it can also help you to release the emotional energy you’ve built up from that situation.


Expand your emotional vocabulary

There are many emotions and words that you can use to describe how you’re feeling. However, it can be normal for people to get stuck identifying with just a few of the more common words such as sad, angry, happy, or stressed.

The problem is you may be feeling many different ways, and these few words can’t always accurately describe the way you feel. For example, if you say, “I feel sad,” you could be feeling:

  • Disappointed
  • Heartbroken
  • Unhappy
  • Regretful
  • Offended
  • Hopeless

Those are just a few ways that you could describe being “sad,” and they all convey something different. When you expand the vocabulary that you use to express your emotions, it can help you to gain a better understanding of how you’re feeling.

Instead of just acknowledging that you feel “stressed,” you can work on pinpointing the exact feelings and emotions you’re struggling with that are causing stress and anxiety, allowing you to respond to the appropriate emotion you’re feeling.

Ask yourself, “So what?”

If there is something that you are stressed about, state the situation, and then ask yourself, “So what?” As you continue to ask yourself this question, it draws you deeper into the case and can ultimately help you identify the root emotion that you have. For example, while you may start off feeling stressed about a situation, this exercise may help you to see that the stress is coming from a fear that you have. When you address the fear, it, in turn, can provide you with emotional release.

Try meditation

Specific forms of meditation may be able to help you pinpoint where you are storing emotional energy in your body. As you meditate, it can help you to find and feel your emotions and then release them.

Talk with friends or family 

If you have a trusted friend or family in your life, it may be helpful to talk to them about the situations that you are feeling stressed or anxious about. As you talk through the situation, they may be able to help you gain a better understanding of what’s bothering you and what emotions you’re feeling.

This can be a way to process these emotions instead of just keeping them inside of you. They may be able to help you see lessons that you can learn from the situation or steps that you can take to improve it. Either way, having someone to talk to can help you to release your emotions and move on more healthily.

It can be helpful to let the other person know what you need from them at the moment. It might be that you just want someone to listen as you talk. Or it could be that you are looking for them to help you reshape your perspective around a situation. Being clear about this from the start can help you to get the most out of the conversation without leaving yourself or the other person frustrated.

While friends and family can be helpful, there are times when you may not want to discuss personal matters with those who know you. This is a time when talking to a therapist could help in achieving emotional healing. If you find in-person counseling unavailable due to cost, time, convenience, long waitlists, or readily available due to mobility concerns or location, online therapy provides an effective resource for support from licensed therapists. With online therapy, individuals can receive the mental health support they need, all from the comfort of their own homes or anywhere they have an internet connection.

When you should seek treatment for emotional repression

Emotions can be a difficult thing to work through on your own. Especially if you’ve been in the habit of repressing them. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and anxious, it can be helpful to talk with a mental health professional to guide you through the process of emotional release.

Getty/Vadym Pastukh
Release bottled-up emotions and feel renewed with online therapy

Experienced mental health professionals, such as licensed therapists, are knowledgeable in different types of therapy that can help guide you through this process. You don’t need to do this on your own. If you feel uncomfortable going to see a therapist in person to talk about your emotions, you may want to try working with an online therapist like those at BetterHelp

Online therapy is just as effective as in-person therapy. Research found that online interventions were effective in the management of a range of concerns and conditions including depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders, with the potential to open to those who might not otherwise have been able to receive the help they needed.

Whether you choose to seek in-person or online therapy, you may find yourself closer to releasing emotions in healthy ways.


If you experience stress or anxiety, you are not alone. While there are a variety of steps you can take to work through what you’re feeling, being able to recognize your emotions and lean into them to achieve an emotional release is often beneficial. Pinpointing the cause of your stress and bringing it to light instead of bottling it up can allow you to handle your circumstances without being overwhelmed or facing additional physical and mental concerns.
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