How to Release Emotions: Dancing Through the Storm

How to Release Emotions: Dancing Through the Storm

Who knew that Taylor Swift was onto something profound when she sang "Shake It Off"? Beneath the catchy pop lyrics lies a scientific truth. You can release pent-up stress and emotion through movement. It's a concept known as therapeutic or neurogenic tremoring. But why would you need to release emotions?

Most of us think that feelings and thoughts are the same. It's what I thought for a long time. It wasn't until my thirties that I learned emotions are in fact a feeling. A physical feeling within the body. And if not properly processed, it can get trapped and manifest as chronic conditions. This revelation highlights the importance of acknowledging and releasing emotions in a healthy way.


Understanding Emotional Release

Emotions are not just fleeting thoughts but physical sensations that dwell within our bodies. For trauma survivors, suppressed emotions due to past incidents can become trapped. These trapped emotions can manifest as chronic pain or somatic conditions.


Emotional Suppression & The 90-second Rule

Our brains are wired to suppress memories too painful to confront. This can lead to a myriad of issues from fibromyalgia to severe anxiety [1]. When we experience stress, our bodies respond with a cascade of physical reactions—our heart races, our cheeks flush, and adrenaline surges, priming us for action. This primal response, deeply rooted in our survival instincts, is fight, flight or freeze. And most of us just can't stop running.

It takes approximately 90 seconds for your stress hormones to flood and clear negative emotions from your system. This brief window offers us a critical choice: dwell in the cycle of emotional reactivity or step towards emotional liberation [2]. That's 90 seconds that a lot of people don't take into consideration can affect you long-term. Some people even avoid those 90 seconds of processing trying to overcome it with toxic positivity, numbing, or rumination.

Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, a Harvard-educated neuroscientist, came up with the 90-second rule. Simply witness your emotions as they arise. Allow your stress hormones to dissipate naturally, preventing the prolonged production of adrenaline that comes from focusing on your triggers. This can transform those 90 seconds from a period of intense distress to a moment of potential healing.


Steps to Release Emotions from the Body

The 90-second rule is great. But, it can take time to master, especially for those of us who've been running from our emotions for so long. And, have a significant amount of trapped emotions to deal with.

Releasing emotions from the body involves acknowledging the physicality of our feelings and finding safe, effective ways to process them. Start with this:

  1. Acknowledge Your Feelings: Recognize and accept your emotions without judgment.
  2. Identify the Physical Sensations: Notice where in your body you feel these emotions and describe the sensations.
  3. Find a Safe Space: Choose a comfortable, private space where you feel secure to express your emotions freely.


Embracing Movement for Emotional Release

Greys Anatomy Shut Up GIF [Digital Image]. (2020) from

Inspired by therapeutic practices and the simple act of "dancing it out," movement can be a powerful tool for somatic release. It's a deliberate act of telling your body, "It's okay to let go," transforming emotional pain into physical movement [3].


Examples of Ways to Release Emotions

Different modalities offer pathways to emotional and somatic release. Here are a few examples:

  • Therapeutic or Neurogenic Tremoring: Engaging in controlled shaking or dancing to release tension and trauma.
  • Mindfulness and Meditation: Practices that help you stay present and process emotions as they arise.
  • Creative Expression: Using art, writing, or music as outlets for emotional release.
  • Physical Activity: Activities like yoga, running, or even simple walks can help release emotional buildup.
  • Breathing Exercises: Deep, controlled breathing can help calm the nervous system and release emotional tension.


Personal Journey: Dancing It Out

Turning my bedroom into a personal dance studio, minus the judgmental audience, was a step toward healing. Each session was a reminder that I was in control and could reclaim my sense of self-worth, one wild dance move at a time.


Embrace Emotional Release

As we navigate our unique journeys of self-discovery, exploring avenues of healing becomes crucial. Whether it's through therapeutic tremoring, mindfulness, or creative expression, the key is to find what resonates with you. Let's not shy away from exploring these methods, for in doing so, we open ourselves up to a world where joy and peace are within reach.



[1] Bowers, H., Wroe, A. L., & Pincus, T. (2017). 'Isn't it ironic?' Beliefs about the unacceptability of emotions and emotional suppression relate to worse outcomes in fibromyalgia. Clinical rheumatology, 36(5), 1121–1128.

[2] One Body Inc. (n.d.). The 90-Second Rule You Can't Afford to Ignore.

[3] Berceli, D. (n.d.). Therapeutic or Neurogenic Tremoring.