Many years ago I decided to try therapy because I was dealing with depression due to the break-up of a long-term relationship. My therapist having known that I felt down for an extended period said “you may feel depressed, but chances are you’re just really angry.” She went on to explain that depression and anger are closely tied together. Although depression can be a clinical diagnosis that requires professional care, it may also be caused by unexpressed anger or resentment towards somebody or something.
She was right, I had been building up resentment towards life for shattering my dreams, killing the storybook ending, and putting out my fire. I had let it build up with no way of expressing it or letting it out which led to a deep emotional pain.
I have since learned that there are healthy ways to express anger so that it doesn’t stew or lead to ongoing feelings of paralysis.
We all have troubling times and our emotions may range from discouragement to depression, or from frustration to feeling so angry that we lash out at those we love or get physically violent.
If you’ve been consistent with your spiritual practice, chances are these episodes will happen less or perhaps not as intense as they once were. But the truth is, life can be a rollercoaster and we have no choice but to go on the ride. It is how we deal with and sit through that ride that creates our life experience.
Studies have shown that ongoing, unresolved anger may lead to certain diseases such as heart attack, stroke, or cancer. There is a powerful link between stressful emotions and our physical health. But the good news is that it’s not too late to do something proactive especially if you’ve been dealing with *extreme anxiety, depression, or anger.
Sometimes when we’re in this state, we don’t feel like doing anything at all. But if you can muster up the energy, here are some helpful actions that you can take to go deeper and uncover these heavy emotions once and for all. When we can gain an understanding and become conscious of their existence, we come to realize that underneath all of it is our natural state of joy, bliss, relaxation, balance, unconditional love, and gratitude.
Exercise – One of the best ways to expel anger is to push yourself through an exercise routine. Running or cardio training is particularly effective at clearing the mind and eliminating negative self-talk. Exercise of any type releases feel-good endorphins and helps us to feel better.
Punch a Pillow – Sometimes anger needs to be expressed and we don’t always have an outlet. The best way to let out the built up tension is by punching a pillow over and over again while screaming at the top of your lungs. What may seem extreme at first, you’ll find will dissipate the anger leaving you feeling more relaxed and calm afterwards.
Breath Practice – I teach both group class and one-on-one transformational breath sessions and along with the breath work, we always let out a few screams during each session too. Deep breathing is the quickest and most effective way to access stifled emotions and pain. It opens the channels for you to heal on all levels of body, mind, and spirit and makes way to feelings of euphoria and bliss.
Meditation – Sometimes meditation can feel agonizing for those suffering from depression or anger because our mind and ego gets in the way. With practice, we can learn to de-clutter our minds and release pent up emotions. Combining breath work with meditation is the ideal combination.
Yoga – Yoga is the perfect mix of physical activity and mindfulness. Find a class that resonates with you and one that you enjoy. Like any spiritual practice, yoga will help to uncover blocks, fears, and unresolved emotion that may have been lingering for years.
Karate – Another great physical activity that helps to release anger is Karate. The combination of physical force and mental focus gets you out of your head and into your center, the core of who you are.
Boxing – While I am not a huge advocate of fighting, a healthy boxing practice, even solo with a bag is an awesome way to expel built up emotion along with giving you a great workout.
Dancing – Movement of any kind often helps with anger. Dancing to your favorite music playing loudly in the background may be just the thing you’ve been needing. Lose yourself in the music and dance like nobody is watching. Research a group called Ecstatic Dance in your area or plan a night out with friends.
Remove Yourself – Sometimes we will need to make physical changes such as leaving an abusive relationship with somebody who pisses us off regularly. Or perhaps seeking out a new job that has a more positive environment may be just the thing you need to do. Know that you are never stuck in a situation and that forward movement is possible. You just need to take the first steps.
*Make sure to speak with your doctor if you’ve been experiencing ongoing feelings of extreme depression, anger, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts.
Jay Bradley is a Youthful Aging, Wellness & Lifestyle Coach Living in Los Angeles. http://www.JayBradleyLifestyle.com
He is the Best-Selling Author of LIVE LOOK FEEL, The 12-Week Guide to Live Longer, Look Younger & Feel Better!