Do you ever find yourself clenching your teeth, fidgeting with your hands, or scrunching your forehead in stress? A somatic release may be a way out of these states.
Sometimes, our muscles can stay tense even after the thing that stresses us is gone. We might not even realize this tension if we’re used to it happening. This is because survival states such as fight flight, or freeze become our body’s main way of operating.
Somatic exercise helps to release tension. It aids in emotional release and supports self-regulation of your emotions. You can try this when you are feeling tight, nervous, or under pressure, or you can do it regularly every day.
This therapy aims to guide individuals reconnect with their bodily sensations and release trapped energy, which re-establishes a sense of safety in the body and results in increased wellbeing (2). To achieve this, therapists create a safe environment for clients to explore their emotions and memories. They guide them to the understanding of the root causes of the distress. It eventually becomes easier to get relief from physical pain and emotional exhaustion.
What is Somatic Release?
The core belief of somatic release lies in accessing the body’s survival responses to a distressing event. When our body faces a stressful situation and/or a traumatic event, the emotions linked to this situation may get stored in our body. As a result, our body shows physical and emotional symptoms such as tension and pain.
Somatic exercises give you time to spend alone in a quiet place, paying attention to your bodily sensations. You also have a choice to go outside, listen to soothing music, or do anything important to you.
As a result of this exercise, people who suffer from symptoms as a result of experiencing a traumatic event may feel much relief and peace. They also find balance in their lives, manage their emotions, and have a renewed sense of harmony.
To summarise, a somatic release is a process of strengthening our mind-body connection, resulting in the fastest recovery from trauma and stress (2).
Who Needs Somatic Therapy?
Somatic Release works on the idea that unpleasant emotions linked to traumatic experiences we have faced can remain trapped in the nervous system and the body.
Trauma is an emotional response to experiencing a disruptive event. Everyone’s reaction to potentially traumatic experiences is different. Most people recover well with their in-built coping abilities and/or with support and do not experience long-term problems.
Some people experience problems directly after the traumatic event or much later. These experiences can leave deep imprints on our nervous system. Eventually, they could lead to psychological disorders such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (2).
Running a never-ending rat race, shoving trauma further and further away, falling into self-harming thought patterns, living life that’s eclipsed by constant anxiety and fear – this is what an average person goes through every day. Not addressing it will only pull you deeper into a downward spiral. BetterMe: Meditation & Sleep app will help you gain a new perspective on life and help you regain that long-lost internal balance!
What is the Science behind Somatic Release?
The interaction between our nervous system and brain supports somatic release. Whenever we face a sudden stressful or traumatic event, our body initiates a fight-or-flee response to protect us from any danger that may harm us (6). This causes shallow breathing and a rapid heartbeat. However, when we lack the resources to process and integrate the distressing event, we can continue to feel stressed even ater the danger has been removed. In other words, our nervous system remains on defence, unable to access safety and self-regulation.
Our autonomic nervous system’s balance can be restored using somatic release techniques, such as deep breathing and shaking. Intentional breathing exercises can help us relax by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system. Shaking exercises, on the other hand, aid in releasing pent-up energy and unresolved emotions and promoting healing.
Through these science-backed methods, somatic release empowers individuals to regulate their nervous system, relieving physical pain and emotional exhaustion (6). It taps into the body’s natural capacity for healing, offering transformative benefits beyond surface symptoms.
What Are the Common Techniques of Somatic Release?
Some common techniques of somatic release include (8):
Deep Breathing Exercises
Breathing deeply and deliberately is one of the fundamental somatic release techniques. When doing so, we activate our parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the rest and digest functions (11). Your body begins to relax, and your mind becomes more at ease if you pay attention to your breath and allow it to reach your belly. This helps your body feel less tense and switch off the sympathetic activation that leads to stress and tension.
This type of movement helps build awareness of someone’s posture and muscle tension. When practiced regularly, standing awareness can help people correct their postures, move the right way, and become more attuned to their bodies. In turn, thi can prevent injury and bad postures.
Somatic Release Shaking
Somatic shaking, also known as tremoring, is the body’s natural way of releasing stored stress and tension. The body’s rhythmic shaking discharges accumulated energy, leading to a sense of renewal and relaxation. Through shaking, the body completes the mobilization cycle that occurred during trauma, which means that it no longer remain trapped in fighting the stressor.
This technique can make you feel relaxed quickly by lowering blood pressure. Its calming efects come from turning on the body’s rest state. It also helps with stress and makes you feel happier. If you want to try box breathing, find a quiet, dim place. This can help you concentrate on the technique, especially if you’re new to it.
Somatic Release through Movement
Movement plays a significant role in somatic release. It allows individuals to express emotions and reconnect with their bodies. The somatic release exercises can include:
Yoga and Somatic Release
Techniques like gentle stretches and mindful movement can help reconnect with the body. These techniques promote body awareness and facilitate tension release.
For example, yoga helps release physical and emotional blockages, fostering a deeper mind-body connection (10). You can learn some yoga poses to target specific areas. For instance, the somatic hip release may help individuals who spend most of their days sitting at work.
Dance Therapy and Somatic Release
Dance therapy circles creative expression and emotional release through movement. It allows individuals to move freely, accessing emotions that might be challenging to express through words alone (9).
Dance movement therapy (DMT) under the realm of somatic movements should be performed under the guidance of a certified DMT therapist. They can monitor your movements and guide you on how to feel free through dance!
What Are the Benefits of Somatic Release?
Somatic Release offers various benefits. These perks then contribute to overall well-being and improved quality of life. A few of these include (1):
- Stress Reduction and Relaxation: Somatic Release techniques actively engage the body’s relaxation response, promoting a sense of calm and reducing stress levels.
- Improved Body Awareness and Posture: Through somatic practices, individuals may develop a heightened awareness of their bodies, improving posture and physical alignment.
- Enhanced Emotional Well-being: Releasing pent-up emotions through Somatic Release can lead to emotional catharsis and aid in self-regulating emotions leading to greater emotional balance.
- Pain Management and Rehabilitation: Somatic Release may effectively manage chronic pain and support rehabilitation processes.
- Somatic Release as part of Trauma and PTSD treatment: Traumatic experiences can leave deep imprints on the body and mind, affecting overall well-being. Somatic Release may be a valuable component in a trauma healing intervention.
How do You Perform a Somatic Release?
Performing a somatic release involves gentle and mindful practices that foster a deeper connection with the body. Some exercises that can aid in somatic release are as follows:
This exercise involves relaxing and inhaling through your nose. Hold your breath for a few seconds and exhale from your mouth. Let your breath reach your diaphragm before you take the next rounds of breaths.
Close your eyes and scan your body from head to toe, noticing any areas of tension or discomfort. Bring your attention to those areas without judgment.
Multiple Somatic Movements
Engage in gentle movements that feel natural to you. This can include swaying, stretching, or simply allowing your body to move in response to your breath.
This exercise involves embracing the natural shaking or trembling that may arise during the practice. This gentle tremoring allows your body to release any stored stress or tension.
Something tells us you often forget to put all the everyday hustle and bustle on hold and simply concentrate on yourself. It’s time to straighten out your priorities! Take a moment to heal, process your emotions, ground yourself, release all the pent-up tension and recharge with the BetterMe: Meditation & Sleep app before getting back into the race of life!
How Do You Release Somatic Stress?
The condition of somatic stress disorder should be acknowledged and treated effectively. It happens when someone focuses excessively on physical symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath or weakness, to an extent that their daily functioning is impaired.
Releasing somatic stress involves acknowledging and processing the emotions held within the body. It is recommended to seek support from a trained therapist if the feelings are too overwhelming or a person faces severe stress.
Here are some effective ways to release somatic stress (7):
Body-Oriented Techniques: Engage in exercises, such as yoga, tai chi, or Qigong, that incorporate somatic elements to release bodily stress. These practices can promote body awareness and relaxation.
Somatic Experiencing Therapy: Somatic experiencing is a type of therapy that helps people process traumatic experiences and past distress through body-focused interventions. It focuses on how the body holds onto and reacts to these difficult experiences.
Mindfulness and Meditation: Practicing mindfulness and meditation may help you become more attuned to your body’s signals and observe unresolved emotions non-judgmentally.
Breathwork: Incorporate breathwork exercises into your daily routine to release tension and calm your body and mind.
Is Somatic Release Real?
Somatic release has the potential to create transformative changes in physical and mental well-being. This approach may bring genuine relief and healing for individuals burdened by painful experiences like experiencing traumatic and/or emotional distress.
Rooted in understanding the mind-body connection, somatic release gently guides individuals to release trapped energy and emotions, leading to profound catharsis and a renewed sense of balance. Its therapeutic benefits go beyond cognitive processing and empower individuals to befriend their bodies and all sensations and emotions this holds.
Does Somatic Release Work?
Somatic Release has demonstrated its efficacy as a legitimate and effective approach to healing and well-being (12). By employing diverse techniques and specific practices, it addresses and heals the accumulated stress, tension, and trauma stored within our bodies.
This is important for people who experience fear, anxiety, and depression as a result of previous distressing experiences (13). For example, individuals suffering from PTSD symptoms have found relief as a reuslt of a somatic intervention. It has helped them restore a sense of safety in their bodies and access feeling of joy, freedom, and enthusiasm.
They also feel more connected to their bodies and emotions, fostering heightened self-awareness and an improved sense of self. Somatic release indeed offers transformative benefits, empowering individuals to feel better and attain a profound state of well-being.
What to Expect from a Somatic Session?
In a somatic session, you can anticipate a safe and supportive environment where a trained practitioner will guide you through various techniques to release pent-up emotions. The session is tailored to your unique needs, and the experience may vary from person to person.
The practitioner will help you tune into your body’s sensations, emotions, and any areas of tension. You may gradually release stored unresolved emotions held in the body through gentle movements, deep breathing exercises, and other somatic practices. This process can foster greater self-awareness, emotional release, and overall well-being (5).
Does Crying Help Heal Trauma?
Yes, it is a common and natural response and a way for the body to process and release these pent-up emotions. It encourages and activates the neurological processes that control our mood.
Crying is also considered as a way to achieve catharsis. This is also a process of cleansing and purifying the emotions. Both somatic release and catharsis aim to provide relief and healing. Somatic release primarily deals with physical sensations and tension in the body, whereas catharsis deals with the emotional aspect by expressing deep emotions. They can complement each other in therapeutic processes, as physical sensations and vice versa can sometimes accompany emotional release.
Allowing yourself to cry in private can help you relieve stress and give you an internal cleansing that you may experience. It is a great way to heal your inner self and help you achieve mental stability (3). While crying alone is not a solution, it can play a significant role in healing.
If you’re thinking about trying somatic therapy and are worried about things like crying or talking about your feelings, it’s a good idea to speak to your therapist about these worries. They can help you feel more at ease and guide you through the therapy in a comfortable way.
Incorporating Somatic Release into Your Daily Life
Integrating somatic practices into daily life can enhance your well-being and make you focus on self-care. Two of the easiest practices include:
- 1-Minute Somatic Release: When feeling overwhelmed or stressed, take just one minute to pause, close your eyes, and focus on your breath without judgment. Allow yourself to release tension and reset your mind.
- Self-Care Checklist: Develop a self-care routine that includes somatic practices, mindfulness, and movement to nurture your mind-body connection.
Remember that somatic release is just one aspect of holistic well-being. Alongside somatic practices, consider addressing the 8 areas of wellness in your life.
The Bottom Line
Somatic release offers a profound and accessible pathway to healing, tapping into the mind-body connection to release unresolved emotions. Through gentle practices, individuals can discover a deeper sense of self-awareness, emotional balance, and physical well-being. By incorporating somatic release into your life and seeking support from qualified practitioners, you can start a transformative journey of healing and growth.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What does releasing trauma feel like?
Releasing unresolved emotions during somatic release can be an emotional journey for individuals. It may stir up past painful feelings and bring about temporary discomfort. However, this process releases pent-up emotions in the body, leading to profound healing and emotional liberation.
What to expect from a somatic session?
In a somatic session, you can expect a safe and supportive environment. A trained practitioner will guide you through various techniques to release bodily stress and emotions. Each somatic session is individualized, and the experience may vary from session to session.
Does crying help heal trauma?
Crying can be a healthy and therapeutic way to release emotions during somatic exercises or trauma healing. It enables the expression and release of suppressed feelings, which adds to a sense of relief and catharsis. However, recovering from a traumatic event is difficult and requires professional assistance.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- All About Somatic Therapy (2021, psychcentral.com)
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (n.d., nimh.nih.gov)
- Somatic Experiencing: A groundbreaking modality to Prevent and Heal Functional Illnesses and Functional Neurological Disorders (FND) (2022, traumahealing.org)
- Somatic Therapy Exercises and Techniques (2023, firstsession.com)
- WHAT IS SOMATIC THERAPY IN DANCE? (2019, balispiritfestival.com)
- What is Somatic Yoga? (n.d., denizaydoslu.com)
- 5 Benefits of Somatic Therapy (2021, khironclinics.com)
- Somatic Experiencing Therapy: 10 Best Exercises & Examples (2020, positivepsychology.com)
- Somatic Experiencing (SE) (n.d., goodtherapy.org)
- Eight benefits of crying: Why it’s good to shed a few tears (2017, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Polyvagal theory: The science of safety. Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience, 2022
- Somatic therapy – effectiveness and key factors of a body-oriented therapy. Journal of psychotraumatology, 2021
- Somatic therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder. Journal of traumatic stress, 2017