If you have anxiety or depression, the all-seeing all-knowing TikTok algorithm will eventually figure it out. Once it does, your FYP will fill with handy tips for feeling better, like the somatic release massage that’s currently going viral.
The topic of somatic release has been extra popular lately, with over 38 million views under the hashtag #somaticreleasemassage on TikTok. One of the top videos comes from creator @talynted_, who explains that a quick rub of the collarbone may help you let go of pent-up sadness. In another video, which now has over 12 million views, creator @ugcwithindyy gave it a try — and sure enough, she instantly burst into tears.
This big cathartic response inspired others to try their own somatic release massage, as evidenced by @ugcwithindyy’s lengthy comments section. One person said, “I was shocked. I wasn’t expecting anything [to happen] and then I immediately felt the need to cry” while another wrote, “No joke, instantly started sobbing.”
Somatic therapy comes in many forms, but this simple chest massage seems to be one of the easiest ways to rid yourself of deeply buried emotions, like sadness or anger, so that you can cry it out and move on. Below, a therapist dives deeper into what somatic release really is and I give my honest review of the viral massage.
What Is A Somatic Release Massage?
According to Dr. Carla Marie Manly, a clinical psychologist and author of Joy from Fear, a somatic release is based on the principle that emotions get stored or trapped within the body. Typically, they’re due to grief, buried or ignored traumas, anxiety, or other mental health concerns.
The body and mind are interconnected, says Manly, so it makes sense that big feelings could get “stuck” in your muscles and eventually turn into physical issues, like tension, muscle knots, pain, or headaches.
“Somatic release massage utilizes carefully targeted bodywork to provide [you with] both emotional and physical relief,” she tells Bustle. As you massage certain areas, like your clavicle, you might notice that the area is tender — and that’s a good indicator that something needs to be released.
“For many, the back, neck, and stomach tend to hold a great deal of stress and tension,” says Manly. “Others find that the shoulder area — which is supported by the clavicle — is a.main storage spot for unprocessed emotions.” This could be due to the emotional “weight” on your shoulders or heartache, which center on this area.
Taking a moment to rub this area could soften and release the physical pain, and transfer it into a much-needed emotional moment.
How To Do A Somatic Release
Here’s how to try this somatic release massage.
- Take your index finger and run it below your clavicle or collarbone towards your shoulder.
- Once you hit your shoulder and the bone stops, put down your middle finger.
- Use both fingers to gently massage this area in a circular motion.
- It’s natural for the spot to feel tight or painful.
- As you rub, you might feel an emotional release, like tears.
- Massage for a minute or two.
- Remind yourself that you’re in a safe space to help bring the tears up.
- If you feel a release, shake off the bad energy by brushing it down your arm.
- This transmutes or changes the emotion so you can let it go.
- Repeat on the other side.
- One side may feel more painful than the other.
- Try it daily until you truly let it all go.
Giving It A Try
As someone who loves to cry, I was so ready to rub my clavicle and release a wave of emotion. I traced my index finger along my collarbone, found a tender spot near my left shoulder, and started to massage in a circular motion.
I braced myself for a flood of tears, but they never came. It felt good to release the muscle tension in my chest — which IMO, is slightly caused by slouching — and I liked the act of brushing the bad energy away down my arms, but it didn’t result in the cathartic cry I was hoping for.
I’m not alone, either. While there are so many positive somatic release moments on TikTok, one person said, “Nothing happened to me” and another joked, “Well, looks like I’m dead inside.”
Another person noted that they laughed during the massage instead or crying, while another theorized that their Lexapro might be holding back their tears. My theory? Since I cry so often — happy tears, sad tears, tears over a cute dog video — it’s possible I didn’t have anything built up inside.
According to Manly, it may take several tries to release emotion, especially if it’s buried deep. A lack of reaction might also mean that it would be more beneficial to try stretching or massaging other areas of your body.
For example, she says the hips often store trauma and issues from the past, which is why a deep pigeon pose is so often utilized in yoga to help stretchers “let it all go”. If you don’t cry from the clavicle massage, she recommends giving it a try.
Doba, K. (2022). Childhood trauma and posttraumatic stress symptoms in adolescents and young adults: The mediating role of mentalizing and emotion regulation strategies. Child Abuse Negl. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2022.105815.
Kuhfuß M. (2021). Somatic experiencing - effectiveness and key factors of a body-oriented trauma therapy: a scoping literature review. Eur J Psychotraumatol. doi: 10.1080/20008198.2021.1929023.
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