Emotions – both positive and negative – are beneficial should be adequately expressed. It happens though that a lot of people tend to suppress anger and other emotions to fit what they think is ‘socially-approved’ behavior. The thinking is that by hiding anger (or other negative emotions), you will not be seen as a ‘cry baby’. The resultant bottling up of emotions is harmful and often leads to relationship conflicts, trouble sleeping, and loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy doing. This post focuses on how you can use body language to get over anger and get back to feeling great.
1. Look up
There’s a continuous feedback loop between body language and emotions. Each tends to affect the other. You can use this to your advantage the next time you feel like anger is getting the best of you. There are few things worse than saying nasty things when you are angry and having to apologize later because you didn’t mean it.
Looking up towards the ceiling or the sky is a great way to use body language to release anger. When people are in a negative state, they tend to look down. Think about a child who’s been caught misbehaving. What is their body language like? They most likely will look downwards and avoid eye contact. This is one way the body expresses a negative emotion. Looking down tends to trigger negative emotions. So the next time you find yourself firmly held in the grasp of anger, interpret the negative body language and do the opposite (which is looking up). You’ll essentially be interrupting your negative emotion and triggering happy hormones to be released.
2. Force a smile
Did you know that forcing a smile or laughter can help you recover from anger and other negative emotions? Laughter is an excellent way to change your state of mind. The next time you find yourself getting angry or having a really bad mood, think about something that made you laugh. You may also watch something funny on your phone. It gets very difficult to stay angry when watching something that gets you to smile or laugh.
3. Take a deep breath
Anger tends to make our breathing shallow and fast as the body slides into its fight or flight response mode. You can negate this influence by consciously changing your breathing pattern so that it’s longer and deeper. This helps take you back to a state of emotional control as you calm down. When breathing deep, focus on lengthening the duration of your exhale. For instance, you may count to 4 as you breath in, and then 10 as you empty your lungs. While exhaling, imaging that you’re breathing out the anger into the air. As you breath in, imagine you are breathing in joy, happiness, and positivity. Practice this whenever you’re feeling down and you’ll be surprised how fast it can change your state of mind.
4. Write it out
Scientific research proves that expressive writing has therapeutic benefits. So whenever you find yourself getting angry or feeling really bad about something, put it in your journal. This helps clear out negative thoughts, and might even change your perspective. Once you’re done writing your emotions, feel free to get a match and burn the paper. Visualize all your anger (or whatever other emotion that’s pulling you down) going up in the smoke.
Any of these simple activities will help interrupt your negative state so you can feel great again. Bottling up negative emotions does more harm than good. Instead, focus on releasing feelings that are pulling you down in a healthy and constructive way.