The Stress of Anger and Fear and Its Effect on Your Health
You may not be being chased by an axe wielding demon or a hungry lion, however, it could certainly feel like it to your body at times.
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After all, you’ve gone through so much over the past three years.
In many ways, it’s been a blessing. It’s shown us so much about ourselves.
We’re now aware of how easily the prevalence of fear could be kicked up in people.
So many lives were devastated these last three years in various ways or have felt the swords of betrayal in other ways.
All the while, their bodies are swimming in the stressful chemicals of anger and fear daily.
Your body registers these underlying emotional stressors and if they’re not released, your body will show signs of it in the form of pain or disease that can become chronic.
Our modern lifestyle hasn’t equipped us to recognize and manage our emotions in healthy ways. In fact, most of us have been taught to repress our emotions.
Energy's natural state is to always be in motion (e-motion). So if we're not releasing it, that just leaves us with stuck energy. This causes stress in the body.
We’re going through one of the greatest times of change our world has ever seen. That requires us to change with it.
So How Does Stress Find You?
If you perceive the meaning of a situation as demanding, dangerous or threatening in some way, your brain sends the right chemicals to the body so it feels enough stress for you to either fight, freeze or get away from the threat. Which was required for your ancestors if, for example, they were being chased by a wild boar or needed to fight for their food.
Your brain responds to fear by releasing cortisol, adrenaline and other stress hormones to your body, activating your sympathetic nervous system so your body will act on the fearful event.
Your body’s reactions could be increased heart rate, sweaty palms/skin, rapid shallow breathing, hot flash or even shaking from nervousness.
It’s important to know that stress doesn’t just stay in your head. Every thought you think creates a biochemical reaction in your body - your body is listening too.
When you can distance yourself from your thoughts by being aware of them, you realize you are not your thoughts. You can change them.
Unlearning Programmed Stress Responses to Adopt New Healthy Ones
Chances are that your stress response isn’t from being chased by a hungry animal. In that case, there would be no thinking required - just run!
If it’s from bill payments, loss of freedoms, loss of loved ones, family arguments, lack of control, betrayals, etc. the fight, flight or freeze response likely won’t help you, yet that’s what your body knows to do.
You stop your body from expressing stress and instead your mind loops with thoughts about these things. The “what if’s”, “if only’s” and “I should’ve said/done this”, will keep your body believing there’s something to fear that it has to respond to.
The energy from that emotion has become stuck somewhere in your body. Since energy’s natural state is to be always in motion, it must do something in the place it’s stuck.
This can lead to discomfort, pain or disease. This is why it’s important for your health to acknowledge your emotions and release them in healthy ways.
So, is it the situation causing the stress, or is it your thoughts about the situation?
If you’ve determined it’s your thoughts, it stands to reason then, you can change the meaning you give to things, thereby changing the thoughts you have around it. Much of the meaning you give to things is subconsciously set before you’re seven years old. So it does take some honest reflection, in whichever way works best for you.
Start with surrendering to or accepting what is, because it is - there’s no point resisting or arguing it. From that standpoint, you can then question any thoughts or feelings that come up from the situation and choose your ability to respond (responsibility) from a neutral place. It’s far more powerful than just having an emotional reaction.
Become familiar with the sensations in your body and the thoughts that came up just before the sensation. Your body is listening and talks to you all the time. It’s giving you feedback as to how you’re managing your emotions and choices.
When you’re frozen or burning up in the stress of fear or anger, your body gives you signals well before it becomes a problem. Instead of tamping down the feeling, feel it and question it. Where did it come from?
Fear and anger are not “bad” emotions - they’re normal reactions and we all have them. So instead of pushing them down or aside, after questioning them, work on releasing the emotions. There are so many methods to do this. Involve your body in this adventure!
Pound your fists into a pillow, shake your body, scream/yell, jump up and down (all best done on your own), connect with the Earth. Or, use a mindfulness or visualization method, draw, paint or write your raw feelings.
Look up EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) and learn how to use it. This can easily be done on your own once you know the method of tapping on various meridian points.
Ways of Changing Your Response to Stressful Anger or Fear
• Mindful awareness of the quality of your thoughts
• Awareness of the feelings in your body and which thoughts preceded them
• Focused breathing with longer exhales than inhales to calm the nervous system
• Breathing into the area of discomfort in your body while envisioning it moving up and out of your body (best done on your own away from the situation)
Practicing acceptance or surrender of the need for control or a specific outcome to a situation
Involve your body by stomping your feet, screaming, slamming your fists into a pillow, shaking to release the energy (best done on your own, away from the situation and others).
Use creativity (drawing, painting, crafting, collaging, etc.) while having the intention of being curious about your feelings around a situation.
Write your raw feelings in a journal or any piece of paper as if no one else will ever see it (because they won’t), then tear it up while imagining the energy from it rising up to the aethers for cleansing.
Learn EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique or tapping) to talk and vent while tapping the meridian points to release the energy.
These processes can help you get started. Yet, you may feel more comfortable talking with someone about what you’re experiencing and having some guidance with the process. In that case, consider a counselor or coach familiar with these methods to help you through this challenging time we’re all moving through.
I believe there are good things coming. The process of birthing can be painful and challenging, however the end result is always worth it - and I believe that’s where we’re going. You are more powerful than you know.
Join my 2 hour online workshop, "Adopting Healthy Stress Responses". Just reply to this email to let me know you're interested in more information and I'll send it right over to you.