By Lisa Cypers Kamen.
If life was one long-running cartoon, we’d spot anger right away – beet-red face, steam shooting out of the ears, sweat dripping from the forehead. We’d be able to see anger build up in ourselves and maybe, just maybe, get our emotions in check before they boil over.
Life is not a cartoon. Steam will not shoot out of your ears. You will probably never sweat enough to be soaked head to toe during your angry spell. But, chronic anger is linked to physical health issues — higher risk of coronary artery disease and heart attack, and even stiffer arteries from the strain of stress. And those health issues can bring you straight back to the root of the problem: neglected emotions.
When we choose to hold back emotions, the pressure travels from our heart to our mind to our body. That interconnection is why you’ve heard stories about people flooded with tears during yoga, overcome with physical and emotional release after years of repressing their feelings. Because the physical repercussions of our emotional turmoil aren’t always physically visible, mind-body practices such as yoga often help us become aware of the link between body, mind and emotion.
Because anger plays a toll on the mind and body, there’s a double incentive to keep its role in your life at a minimum. When an upsetting situation comes up, address your feelings early on. Is your body feeling stressed? Recognize the cues your body is giving you, and use that awareness to put the situation in perspective and make changes that will relieve the tension in your body. Being proactive will give your emotions and body the attention they deserve and nip anger in the bud.
Anger has a sneaky way of distracting us from the happy things in life. It is, simply put, a joy killer. It’s not easy to stomp out that negativity and focus on happiness, but you’ll be surprised at the holistic benefit you’ll reap from doing so. Your mind, heart and body will undoubtedly join in a chorus of thanks.
Happiness is an inside job®.
The next time you feel overcome with anger, take a moment to do this simple but cathartic stretch. Sit down in a chair with your back straight and your feet squarely on the ground. Let your arms hang down straight.
Slowly rotate your shoulders clockwise in a tiny circular motion. As you rotate your shoulders, slowly increase the size of the circular motion until you feel your shoulder blades come in as far as they can. Now extend your arms out at waist level, raising them slowly until your palms meet above your head, inhaling during the ascent and exhaling as you bring your arms back down to resting position.
Take note of how this simple stretching routine alleviates the body stress associated with your anger and pent up emotions. Make a habit of stretching, even if for only a minute or two, each time you feel anger build up inside you. Once this becomes habit, you will become aware of the intrinsic way in which our mind, body and emotions are connected and will realize that making one area calm (in this case, the body) can have a positive effect on the other areas.