What single word can be used to describe feeling relief through a physical action?

For example:

"Punching the pillow felt ______, because it physically relieved my stress."


I'm thinking of the word "cathartic." It is defined by Oxford Dictionary as

'providing psychological relief through the open expression of strong emotions; causing catharsis':
"crying is a cathartic release"

Might that be the one you're looking for?

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  • 1
    I think your choice of word might be on point. May we have a dictionary definition from you. Thanks. – Peter Point Oct 15 '16 at 1:49
  • @PeterPoint On point -- nice. :-) – Richard Kayser Oct 15 '16 at 2:12
  • Welcome to English Language & Usage! We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed. – NVZ Oct 15 '16 at 2:41
  • The adjective 'cathartic' as defined by Oxford dictionary can be used to describe something 'providing psychological relief through the open expression of strong emotions; causing catharsis' i.e. "crying is a cathartic release" – M. Campbell Oct 15 '16 at 3:57
  • Comments are temporary and not searchable. Please edit your answer. – MetaEd Oct 15 '16 at 5:59

People sometimes vent their feelings in this way.


vent transitive verb

3:  to relieve by means of a vent : vented himself in a fiery letter to the editor

She vented her frustrations by kicking the car.

Don't vent your anger on me.

I screamed because I needed to vent.


2:  an opportunity or means of escape, passage, or release : outlet : finally gave vent to his pent-up hostility

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How about release (or physical release)?

From Dictionary.com:

release: a freeing or releasing from confinement, obligation, pain, emotional strain, etc.

From M-W:

release: to set free from restraint, confinement, or servitude: release pent-up emotions


Hitting the punching bag over and over and over again gave me an incredible feeling of release (or physical release).

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