Anger can be a destructive emotion and yet we all experience it from time to time. When we feel angry, it is because something outside of us has triggered us and usually we are left feeling ‘victimized’ by that external event.
Society, especially if we have a religious background, may have taught us that it is ‘sinful’ to express our anger and we need to remain ‘pious’. Pretending that we are ‘above’ anger can also be very damaging to our emotional health. What tends to happen is that we suppress those anger emotions. Suppressed emotions may then manifest as all kinds of physical ailments such as headaches, chronic pain, digestive symptoms, palpitations, anxiety, depression to name but a few. So now that we know that suppressing anger is not the key, how can we safely express anger? During my training as a life coach, my coach once requested that I explore 10 safe ways to handle anger.
Initially I thought she had just gone off the deep end on some altruistic journey… After all if I was angry, I had every right to let the world know, right? That way no one would EVER mess with me that way again! Well not exactly, in fact as I watched the some recent episodes of ‘celebrity apprentice’, I could not help but wonder why Nene always appeared so angry! It did not endear me toward her at all. Think of times when you have met someone who just seems to exude anger, do you feel drawn to that person? Most likely no! My well-being is my greatest investment and is the singular one quality that makes me an effective coach and physician. I have learned to ‘let go of the drama’ and not always seek to be right…The more I recognized the importance of coming up with some ways to safely express my anger.
Coming up with the list is just like an insurance policy. It’s your safety net when you need it.
Here is my list. As you read this, my intention is that you too will discover ways that you can safely express anger.
1. Medicine Ball Smash!
My personal trainer recently introduced me to this core body workout and all I could think as I slammed the ball in front of me was, ‘Wow this wins the award for the best anger quelling technique!’ As a disclaimer for this and all other physical exercises that I may list here please be sure to check with your physician as to whether it is safer to do these activities versus suffer from the otherwise adverse effects of poorly handled anger. So this is how it goes. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, arms raised above your head with a medicine ball (pick your weight start with an average weight like 5-10 lb ball). Stabilizing your core muscles (i.e. your trunk muscles), knee slightly bent, slam the ball vertically down.
It should bounce; catch it and go back to the starting position. Repeat for a total of 15 reps. Check in with your feeling and if you still feel angry do a second set of 15 reps. Hopefully by the end of the second set you should be feeling pretty accomplished (and out of breath from a good workout!)
2. Punch the Pillow
Time tested and always on the list. You can decide if you want to yell with each punch. Scream! If you have a baseball bat then take that to the pillow. Again another great cardio workout. Punch for as long as it takes to rid yourself of those toxic emotions. You’ll know you’re done when you experience a sense of calm.
3. Rapid write ranting
This is not designed to be your best handwriting. Really feel the presence of your emotions and rant on paper. Scribble what you are feeling; feel free to blame the other person or circumstance. Keep ‘write ranting’ till you have it all out there. If you do a pretty good job you should not be able to decipher what you have written because it’s designed to be written as fast as you are ranting in your head. Once you have a feeling of calm come over you then you know then, if it’s safe to, you can burn it up, if not simply shred it. Either way just let the rant writing go!
4. Break some cheap plates
I actually heard that this is a legitimate business in the California area!! However for the home version, simply go to a dollar store and purchase a load of cheap plates consistent with how angry you gauge yourself to be. Next go to a clear space, your garage perhaps and start smashing the plates. Yelling makes it all the more therapeutic.
Recognizing that anger is not something that is done ‘to us’ but how ‘we choose’ to react to a situation, and as we learn safe ways to handle our anger we also recognize that the other party need not be burdened with hearing what we have to say about our misgivings. No matter how ‘wrong’ they may have been. This is because we have taken responsibility for how we handle anger.
5. Another safe way to handle anger is to ‘voice record what I’d say’.
Simply get a microcassette recorder and let it all out till there is nothing left to say. Check in with your feelings and see what else comes up. Keep on recording till you’ve said all there is. Next press the erase button! If you find it hard to erase the content then that means you still have more to say, keep going till you can erase it without having to listen.
6. Martial Arts Kicks
Another quick medical disclaimer,please consult your physician before embarking on this or any other exercise program. This is great to visualize physically kicking some butt! Sidekicks, front kicks, round horse kicks just let it flow. Scream into your kicks to release the pent up energy with your anger.
7. Push Ups or Push Offs
For me exercise is always a safe way to handle anger or frustration. So if I’d ordinarily to 10 push-ups go for I double that amount. The goal is not just the physical accomplishment but also the emotional exhaustion too.
8. Listening to calming music
I personally love Yanni and whenever I need inspiration or am feeling restless or agitated I play his music. I believe that there is an artist for everyone who’s music we connect with and can raise our spiritual vibrations. Find that for yourself and when you find yourself in that state put on your iPod and just listen.
9. Breathing Exercises
One of the destructive effects of anger is elevated blood pressure. Deep breathing is a great technique to practice especially when we feel ourselves getting triggered and we cannot necessarily leave the situation right there to do why of the other things listed here. Simply take a deep breath in and hold comfortably for a few seconds while holding an image of you clothed in white light. Then slowly exhale completely. Breathe normally for 3-5 breaths and then repeat as needed.
10. Take a walk outdoors
Taking a walk outdoors can be a refreshing way to reconnect with our inner self and also see a different perspective. If you have a dog it’s a great time to walk the dog. Simply attending to the needs of another can help to elevate you.
I hope that the tips outlined here will encourage you to look at safe ways to express anger, so that you can experience a higher level of well-being.