Practical Ways To Manage Fear And Anger
TRAINING YOUR BRAIN AND BODY
Have you heard the expressions “shaking in your boots”, “blind-rage”, or “seeing red”? These are all commonly used to describe the physical manifestations of fear or anger. Fear and anger don’t just affect the way you feel emotionally, but very much so physically. Like I talked about in our last newsletter, your body can use fear and anger to protect you and enable you to respond appropriately to dangerous or threatening situations. However, it’s so easy to let fear and anger get out of hand. You might end up not doing something you wish you had, or something you wish you hadn’t. Here’s some practical ways to train your brain and body to better control your fear and anger.
WHAT DOES FEAR FEEL LIKE?
Some common physical reactions to fear:
- Your heart beats very fast and may feel irregular
- Your breathing gets very fast
- Your muscles feel weak
- You are unable to concentrate on anything else
- You feel like you can’t move
The first thing you can do when you feel fear is talk about it! Especially if you have introverted tendencies, talking about personal emotions like fear can be scary or even embarrassing. Find a therapist or someone close to you that you trust, and tell them that you’re struggling with fear. Talking through certain feelings can be very helpful, even if it feels silly or pointless, try it, you might be surprised when your symptoms of fear start to feel less overwhelming.
HOW TO FACE YOUR FEARS
“Face your fears” doesn’t mean to jump out of a plane if you’re afraid of heights. However, in some instances, engaging in small amounts of the thing that triggers your fear can help you to overcome it! If you are afraid of heights, try taking a walk on a bridge, or even a more daunting activity like bungee jumping or riding a rollercoaster. That might seem impossible to someone who really does have a fear of heights, so take small steps in facing your fears!
If you’re feeling physically overwhelmed by fear, distract your body by moving it! Pick your favorite way to exercise, from walking to lifting weights, and focus on that instead.
BREATHE: IN, OUT!
The physical reactions you have to anger are very similar to fear on paper, but in reality, they feel completely different:
- Your heart beats fast
- Your breathing gets faster or labored
- Your muscles feel stronger, or shaky
- You are unable to concentrate on anything else
- You “see red”
- You feel extra strong or reckless
You’ve very likely said some things in anger that you wished you hadn’t. The first thing to do when you get angry is to think before you speak. If there are things you want to say, wait until you are in control of your emotions. Speaking out of anger will only result in broken bridges, and hurt feelings.
It sounds cliché, but breathe. Women are told to breathe while they are in labor because it really does relax your body! Focus on calmly breathing, and be aware of your body returning back to normal.
MIND OVER MATTER
Fear and anger both start in the mind. When you experience something that triggers either emotion, your mind is the first thing to respond. Fear can make your mind go haywire with “what ifs” and theoretical situations featuring the star of the show, your fear. Instead of letting your mind run wild when you’re afraid, focus on the evidence. Assess your situation and let your brain decide if the fear is rational or not-like it was meant to do.
Sometimes, people are embarrassed by their fear and try to suppress it. They deny their fear, even in their own mind! Like a little kid who believes if they can’t see you, you can’t see them, we deny our fear to try to make it go away. Admit your fear to yourself, don’t hide it. If you are trying to treat the symptoms of anxiety without acknowledging the source, you won’t get very far.
Fear leads to lots of negative thoughts, either about the possible outcomes for you or others. If you struggle with negative thoughts, focus on positive thoughts instead. It seems simple, but it’s not always easy. Here’s an example, if you struggle with the fear of death, focus on life. Think about the good things in your life that you have; your family, friends, goals, dreams, and even the simplest parts of life. Beauty and positivity can be found in the simplest things, and focus on those instead of the negative thoughts that come with fear.
LET IT GO, LET IT GO!
While fear can make your mind run wild, anger makes your mind shut down. All you can think about is your anger, and it takes over your mind like a virus. Like we discussed in our last newsletter, sometimes, being angry feels good, which is why some people use it to cope with fear. Just like you need to let go of anger, you also need to let go of your grudges. It’s easy to hold on to anger for a person or thing, but take a page from Queen Elsa’s storyand let it go. Even if you don’t mean it, tell yourself that you’ve forgiven that person or thing, and that you’re not angry at them anymore.
Since speaking when you’re angry doesn’t usually end well, think instead! Repeat a mantra to yourself, either a positive, calming phrase, or a Scripture. The repetition and purposefulness of this exercise can help calm you down.
LESS TALK, MORE WALK
We can talk all day about coping with fear and anger, but talking about it won’t actually help you overcome it. It’s common for many therapists to draw out the process of dealing with these struggles instead of focusing on overcoming them. You don’t have to be beholden to fear or anger; there is a purpose for both of them in your life but if you are not in control of your thoughts or actions because of either, you are not living fully.
Remember, you are not in control of everything, and that’s okay. Ironically, letting go of the need for control will give you back control over your fear and anger. Schedule a Discovery Call with me, and let me show you how you can live confidently.