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Healthy Self Care and Soul Nourishment

Health and Beauty Through Emotional Release. The Art of Unclenching.

By October 17, 2017March 29th, 201914 Comments

For many of us it’s really hard to be on the planet right now feeling so much collective hurt, and wanting desperately to help stop it all.

If you really want to help the world and imbue it with beauty, you have to process what you feel.

It can seem difficult to find healthy ways to release the emotional weight of what you’re feeling.

If you’re not careful the heartaches will turn into body aches, then the more powerless you will be, and the beauty you’re seeking to express will dull.

In fact, that is what started to happen to me.

So here’s how I’ve been working towards healthy emotional release to reclaim life-force, power and vitality. I share all this in hopes that it may be useful for you too.

Stirring the pot and checking out isn’t a strategy for coping

Immersed in news or scrolling through our social feeds absorbing, sharing, and writing about our upsets, doesn’t mean we’re actually moving through the emotions and feelings in a healthy way. We’ve just stirred the pot.

When it all starts to feel like too much to handle, do you get the urge to shut it off and stuff it down?

Whatever your version of checking out is — be it binge watching TV, scrolling through pretty pictures for hours, drinking more alcohol, or eating more sugar (I’ve done all of these),  it’s a poor strategy for truly feeling better.

[Read: 6 Tips to Kick Sugar Cravings to the Curb]


Disconnect feels good temporarily, but it doesn’t mean all those feelings have been neutralized. They’re still swirling around in a frenzy with nowhere to go, except to fester in your body.

Holding in your emotions is like holding in your pee

I think holding in emotion for too long, is like holding in your pee for too long also.

When you finally decide it’s time to go, the muscles are still so clenched it takes forever for anything to come out, and it can hurt when it does.

If you hold your pee in for long enough, it will toxify your body to the point where it actually kills you.

In the book You Can Heal Your Life, Louise Hay explains how stuck emotions can turn into physical ailments, and offers ways to release them. This is an excellent starting place for choosing new habits of coping.

Pain shows up in your face too

When we hold in upset, our face muscles tighten into clenched jaws, downward mouths and furrowed brows that actually make us appear to be meaner and less approachable — the opposite of who we probably want to be perceived as!

Does your body ache because your heart aches?

While I’ve believed in Louise Hay’s work for many years, this was the first time in my life I so specifically experienced dis-ease from negative emotions lodged in my body…and it scared me.

My internal world has been a roller coaster since late last year, then it got really kicked up right after the Charlottesville incident, and hurricane Harvey ripping through Texas.

But as the tragedies just kept coming, the feeling of despair got more intense.

Just days later in Oregon, tens of thousands of acres of the most beautiful forest were burning uncontrollably and ashes rained down from the sky.

With fires still raging, I left on a whirlwind trip to NYC to do makeup for fashion week, private clients lessons, and events. Simultaneously I got word that my family in Florida was trapped directly in Hurricane Irene’s path.

A few nights later my phone rang very late and I was told a good friend back in Portland had unexpectedly died.

And so the clenching began

I had responsibilities and obligations that wouldn’t allow me to just fall apart for a few days. I didn’t want to let people down and I couldn’t afford to lose the income by not showing up.

I chose to do what many of us feel we have to do, stuff the emotions down, and keep going.

I’d burst into tears for brief moments in the bathroom. I knew I’d have time to deal with it all when I got back home to Oregon. So I clenched, sucked up the tears, wiped away the smudged mascara and emerged with a reasonable attempt at a smile.

But then more came…

As the quaint town of Santa Rosa was burning to the ground where a dear friend lived, my thoughts drifted to another friend who survived the Las Vegas shooting and is still not able to talk about what she experienced.

Days later  I posted a video of my friends’ – two beautiful women – at their wedding. A wedding so filled with love that it poured in, through, and around everyone who was present. Immediately after that post I lost quite a few Instagram followers. So I reminded everyone on my social media that love is what the world needs now for everyone.

And to punctuate the importance of National Coming Out Day, I came out yet again — identifying myself as an LGBTQ person and sharing a bit about how it is to feel unsafe and have rights stripped away just by being who I am.  See how I addressed it here.

Now with the emergence of #MeToo (if you’re not sure what that is, here’s one article to explain) I’ve waded through plenty of memories – long tucked away – where my body, safety and job security were violated at the hands of abusive male power, without recourse.

So after all of this, when I finally slowed down long enough to process my feelings, I found out that my whole body (even my scalp) ached inconsolably – and it was because my heart needed to be consoled on a very deep level.

Emotional release isn’t always easy

Salt baths, extra sleep, drinking lots of water, being near water, eating nourishing foods, having quiet time, walks, petting animals, flirting with babies…none of my usual soothing methods were making the ache go away as quickly as I’d hoped. Even massages just made the aches louder, stirring things up, but not making them better.

I went to a gong meditation to reset my nervous system. If you don’t know what that is, I highly recommend you look up one in your area (or a crystal bowl meditation) and go try it out! The sound vibrations help to release stuck emotions in the body.

My intention was to let go of whatever wanted to come out, and not be ashamed if that meant sobbing through the whole thing. Instead I laid totally silent, almost emotionless, without shedding a tear.

I guess when I told my body to hold on to the feelings, I didn’t realize the physical repercussions would be so long lasting.

Resistance creates suffering

With every single traumatic event, whether it’s humans doing terrible things to each other through killing or restricting rights, or nature’s wild destruction, I have felt clenching resistance to it all.

In that resistance there is a feeling of greater pain.

And I see now that I’ve resisted feeling the pain from that too.

Re-reading an amazing book called The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself, has really helped remind me of how to unclench, give way to emotional release and bring more awareness to layers of pain to make it easier to with the “disturbances” in life.

If you’re at all curious about EFT (another physical/mental way to release resistance), I love Brad Yates on youtube.

I also highly encourage you to check out the book The Astonishing Power of Emotions: Let Your Feelings Be Your Guide.

Opening and closing

Like the waves of the ocean that reach out and pull back in, we must expand and contract naturally with the ebb and flow of life.

Some days you’ll need to contract and that’s ok, but that doesn’t mean shut down.

As The Untethered Soul says:

When you close your heart center, energy can’t flow in. When energy can’t flow in, there is darkness.

As the plane descended on my way back from Sunny LA to cloudy Oregon this week, I saw that above all the clouds, there was sunshine and blue sky. It was a good reminder that light is always there whether we see it or not.

Stretch, but not till it hurts

When I was taking a stretch class at The Oaks at Ojai, the instructor Lynnie Kustal gently said these words of pure wisdom:

Start where you are. Use what you have. And do what you can.

She implored us to notice our body, listen to it — and not push through pain because that’s how we’d hurt ourselves.

The point is, find what works for you. Really get in tune with what your body is telling you.

You can do something – even one thing – that you feel good about.

You don’t need to take on the world.

You must take good care of yourself to be effective

I’m a big believer is self-help, but also in getting help. It’s a really awesome thing to seek out mental and spiritual support from qualified therapists and practitioners.

There is no shame in using resources to help you grow. Celebrate that you care enough to invest in learning new tools for your own well-being!

If we can breath in kindness for ourselves and others, as we stretch our capacity to feel and open up to let the feelings move through, we will have the strength and health that will ultimately give us the power to serve, help and heal.

So I’m curious, what are healthy ways you process your emotions and feelings? Let me know in the comments below.

All images and videos by Kristen Arnett.

Kristen Arnett

Author Kristen Arnett

A makeup artist and green beauty educator helping you find the very best safe cosmetics. Teaching pro secrets for enhancing your natural beauty at every age, so you can be empowered to make healthier choices, and radiate confidence every day.

More posts by Kristen Arnett

Join the discussion 14 Comments

  • Thank you for candidly sharing your heart with us! It’s so encouraging to know that other women have felt overwhelmed by recent events…. fires, Las Vegas, #metoo, etc. I promise you’re not alone in this. And as for the lost Instagram followers, you’ve connected on a much deeper, authentic level with the ones who remain! xo

    • Kristen Arnett's GBT says:

      Thank you so much, Jacqueline for echoing back that many of us (including you) are on the same page. I really appreciate your positivity and sincerity in all you contribute as well.

  • Natalie says:

    I just want to say I think you are so brave and authentic. I don’t get to read all of your post but lately the ones I have been able to catch have been the most real and heart connecting of any blog I’ve ever read. I so appreciate you and your vulnerability. It helps me to not feel so alone. I am struggling with health problems and tumors because I haven’t learned how to handle my emotions. I am trying to learn now in fast forward mode ☺️ … I am learning now how we speak really determines the path our life takes. We do have power in our words. I am a believer in God and hope that I won’t be judged for that, but I believe there are spiritual laws just like there are natural laws like gravity. What we speak, if we are negative and speak down about our finances or health, etc, then we will have what we say. Affirmations help me to get my mind back on track to believe what is true about me. When I forget or get discouraged, I forget who I am and down I spiral. Yoga also helps because I am learning to connect with my body. For all my life, 34 years, all I can remember is being hard on myself and not this or that enough. The other day I was saying my affirmations and somehow I spoke that “I believe I am (healthy).” I used to just say “I am healthy” but adding the “I believe shifted something in me. I am learning to accept myself and love myself. I haven’t felt connected to my body. It is like it is separate from my spirit. I am going to get some of the books you recommend and try some things others have written in the comments too. I so enjoyed this blog post! Lastly, I wonder if the reason some people are so judgmental is because they feel such unforgiveness towards themselves and others in their lives. Maybe they aren’t able to love themselves and therefore they can’t see clearly to love others well either. Then they get twisted up inside about what is right and wrong. I am sure that those people who stopped following you are hurting inside. There may be some who are so caught up in being “religious”. Those kinds of people just go around hurting everybody. I would say they might be hurting the worst. Sending love and good vibes!

    • Kristen Arnett's GBT says:

      Hi dear Natalie,
      Thank you for taking the time to write such a heartfelt comment and sharing your truth too. Believing in God and spiritual laws can be very profound and heart-opening for so many. For others they get caught in the dogma and can’t see into the truth of love that is there. They aren’t taught to love themselves, rather to see all of what is wrong with them and that they are bad and unworthy. So of course the people who cannot accept others with love, who are unable to forgive in this moment, got there because they were taught to see themselves and others through that lens of inappropriateness. I’m so happy to hear that you are becoming more aware and in tune with what your emotional and physical body need in order to be whole and well. I wish you only the very best in that journey. Thanks for sticking around here too! 😉

  • TeresaE says:

    Thank you for sharing. This has been a year of memory, connection and healing.
    I’m in the final decision stage of coming out as a human that deserves to live her own life in peace, calm and friendship. Things I cannot have from within this marriage.
    If you lost “followers” because of showcasing love and devotion, those aren’t people following your path anyway! They might have been hangers-on, they may have been curious, but by showing you their dark side, you win!
    Coming out as intuitive, learning to trust my intuition and the feelings, isn’t easy. But it is fulfilling, completing, and how it has to be to be who I am.
    Much love and healing coming your way. Always remember, this too shall pass.

    • Kristen Arnett's GBT says:

      Ahhh! You are so right. I definitely know that the people who went were just not the right energy fit for who I am and what I’m about. I don’t close the door to them, but rather invite them back for when they feel ready to step into this energy that we are creating here! Oh trusting intuition…that’s a whole other article. 🙂

  • Theresa says:

    I don’t feel like I can come up with adequate words enough to express to you how very thankful I am that I happened upon you/your website many months ago and requested to be added to your email list. Reading what you share has been rewarding to me in multiple ways. I absolutely love getting to know you through your writings and just want to be one that thanks you so much for sharing your heart with us. You put yourself out there and share the good, the positive, the uplifting, the love, as well as the green info you provide, that is you. Thank you for helping me to continue to strive to be better in our world that is so full of hatred and judgment. Thank you for being you and sharing your heart with us!

    • Kristen Arnett's GBT says:

      Hello lovely, Theresa! Well you’ve done such a beautiful job with the words you did share on expressing something that touched my heart. So thank you for that. I really appreciate so much knowing that my authentic writing has given you something special too. It has been a work in progress to reveal this side of myself in a world and industry so focused on products being the answer. Much love to you!

  • Celeste says:

    I’m with you my friend, I’ve gone through similar feelings this year and took considerable time finding my way back to me. Like you, I tried gong meditation, naam yoga, along with harmonium treatment. Prayer, lots of crying, taking time to grieve. Yesterday I tried one of those float spa things. I floated for an hour in a darkened pod and finally felt in touch with the real me again who had been emerging lately. Another help has been using essential oils designed to aid emotional release. It turns out smell has a unique access to the limbic region of our brains, where memories are stored. And good oils can actually help correct negative pathways.
    I send you light and love. I marvel at how sometimes old friends go through very similar experiences, with very different citcumstances. We’re all on this journey together and I’m honored to be on it with you.

    • Natalie says:

      Would you be willing to share some of the resources about essential oils and emotional releasing? I feel I have blocked emotions and I’ve heard about this but am not sure where to get information about it. Thanks! ?

  • Jackie says:

    There have been times in my life where I walked around sick and exhausted, just trying to hold myself together in order to not let my loved ones down. We all have to do it, and while it can be damaging if it goes on too long, I believe it can also make us stronger. The things going on in the world will shift and lessen, given time. As a group we can either break or hold strong. I choose to hold on, and you go even further. You inspire. It’s ok to break down sometimes. Just hold on to whatever light you can, sweet lady. Scream. Howl at the moon. Have a block party and dance and laugh yourself silly. It helps release some of the tension in a positive way and gives you room to breathe. Big hug, and thanks for your sweet light.

  • Colleen Anne says:

    I do not know where to begin…the very short version is -Thank you for your grace and wisdom.- I was going to say I didn’t know…I didn’t know you were going through so many losses on so many levels…I didn’t know you had lost followers over…over what? Over supporting love and joy? Over being a beautiful nurturing human? I didn’t know because why? Because I assume, so many of us assume, that somehow everyone else is more pulled together than we are…I assume and I hope that no one else is facing unemployment and financial devastation that keeps them up at night, I assume and I hope no one knows the depth of pain caused daily by an autoimmune issue… I assume and I hope that we all want to find love in a companion and within ourselves and that we all want the insanity that is on the news to stop because it is not just ‘on the news’ it is not just ‘a horrible situation’ it is real people experiencing real terror and their loved ones are experiencing real heartache. I assume and hope that people appreciate beauty within and love expressed in all forms…because if we cannot appreciate the beauty and love within we will go without and that deprives everyone of a basic human need…to be loved and nurtured by being love and nurture. Thank you for reminding us that we all need to open our minds and hearts to ourselves, to one another, together. xo

  • Subi says:

    I hope you don’t think me insensitive, but who you love shouldn’t be anybody’s business and shouldn’t matter. Who you love has nothing to do with who you are. Being a good person has nothing to do with your age, your gender, your race, your weight, your religion, or your sexual orientation. Being a good person has to do with your moral values and how you treat others. If you lie and cheat, You’re not a good person. The qualities, traits, and attributes that we are born with do not make us good people with bad people. The internal qualities and beliefs and values are what make us good or bad people.

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