Stress, anxiety or anger…which one is worse? That’s a trick question as none of them are really good for your body.
Stress happens when you get in overwhelm at what is going on in work, life, and home. You might have the boss move up a deadline, or find yourself assigned too many tasks at once. Stress causes the sudden release of adrenaline, the hormone that can negatively impact your mood and emotions, and elevate your blood pressure, but was once very good if say, a tiger jumped out and you were in cave man days. Fight or flight, right? Ideally, your boss isn’t going to devour you if you don’t turn something in on time, it just feels like that, so the brain goes into worst case scenario, which then makes all these things happen…because unfortunately, your brain doesn’t know the difference right now to the stress you are experiencing. Stress can have negative effects on the body and brain. Research has found that stress can produce a wide range of negative effects on the brain ranging from contributing to mental illness to actually shrinking the volume of the brain. From this article here.
Now anxiety might not be the same as this kind of fight or flight, but it can actually result from constant stress and then it starts to overcome ALL other stress responses with fear turned on, worry, and disabling dread that is not founded in the present moment at all, but the thought of things happening to the extent that you can get chest pains, dizziness and even result in a panic attack as your have put those thoughts in the present moment as IF they are really happening, and again your brain thinks this is so.
Anger doesn’t help you either…and again, the brain kind of does it’s own thing here and decides to bypass a few key areas when you get angry. But the amygdala kind of goes into overdrive when anger gets activated…and again, they key here is that in all 3 situations, the brain doesn’t immediately know if an experience is real or imagined. So that is where we are going right now in order to stay calm, or calm back down.
I am not a medical doctor, I am merely a researcher who LOVES the brain and as a teacher, tried to figure out the best way to calm down students who came from some very diverse backgrounds and some not so happy places. Now that I am a yoga instructor, and someone who has learned to calm myself down, I am just trying to understand where all these feelings come from and how to stop myself and others from being overcome with the emotions to the point of shutting down. If you need medical advice, please make an appointment with your doctor.
- Self-talk can help you reverse the thought that the things you are telling yourself are real. Your job is to keep repeating the phrases to yourself because the brain has a job to do and it doesn’t know what is real…so the good thing is that if you can repeat this phrase, write it out, and put it on your mirror, or keep it in your office drawer and pull it out as needed, you can start to calm down. A few good ideas here are to find the opposite of what your brain is telling you. Here are a few examples: I understand that as soon as panic comes, it leaves all by itself. I understand that these feelings cannot hurt me. Write these out. Have them ready to pull out at a moment’s notice. Then use: If panic comes, I will use my relaxation breathing methods and I will allow it to come and I will not fight it. See next step.
- Breathing. Out your hands on your belly, and feel the air filling your belly and then just pause as you feel your stomach moving. In and out. Just say to yourself “I am breathing in. I am breathing out.” And do that for a round of 3 breaths while calmly saying I am breathing in and out. After that, keep repeating phrases your have written from step 1.
- Laugh out loud. If you are in your office and you need to go somewhere to do this, go ahead, or put in the ear plugs and watch a 1 minute clip that makes you laugh. If you can’t make yourself laugh, it really doesn’t matter how, just smile and then start to try to laugh. Seriously. It will calm everything down. It’s okay if people look at you. You will feel better.
- You are SUPER. Change your posture. I teach all this in my yoga classes and my online courses, but one thing is for sure, your posture says what is happening. So stand up taller, put feet in “Super Man” wide stance, or “Wonder Woman” or whatever, but put your hands on your hips a minute like you are about to do something very important. Then lift your arms above you like you are going to fly away, or you’ve just reached the top of the stairs like Rocky…and oh yeah, put that music playlist on that makes you feel super. Breathe. Repeat power phrases. “I’ve just calmed myself down in 1 minute.” It doesn’t matter if you are still doing it, say it. I have just calmed myself down. Wow. I am powerful and I can control my emotions.
- Visualize the calmest version of you. It can be in a hammock, watching a sunset, the ocean, having a massage, or whatever. You can even have a photo of your dog at work if that calms you down, but your brain wants you to visualize petting your dog, and just start feeling your entire body relax and your jaw un-clench. I teach visualizations in everyday life and how to use them and harness the power in my Club. These things are so important in your world.
BONUS: Jump up and down if you can for a few minutes and get your body pumping. Raise your arms over your head and stretch your chest wide, then cross your right arm over for a stretch and then your left arm. Walk outside if you have the space and/or place, and take your socks off and ground yourself on the actual grass. Just focus on breathing deeply and repeating your self-talk phrases and visualizations.
Need more help daily? My Club is open at the beginning of each month for a few new members. We have many tips, tutorials, and online yoga for centering and grounding which helps with anger, stress and anxiety. Particularly if you are a busy person as these things can be done in 10 minutes or less. Join us here.
Articles to assist:
- 20 Minutes of Anger (or tips for not Hulking out)
- 5 Ways to Find Your Calm in a Sea of Stress
- 5 Surprising Benefits of Meditation