Tip/Thought of the Day

Get It Out

There’s so much craziness in the world. Worry over our jobs and the ability to take care of ourselves and our families. Financial concerns. National decisions that impact every aspect of our lives. Continued questions on how to socialize and interact with others. Too often we toss and turn at night, unable to let them go. They can all lead to pain, depression and health problems.

Research has shown emotional pain activates the same areas of the brain as physical pain- the anterior insula and anterior cingulate cortex. In one study, those who experienced social rejection from their peers or had recently ended their marriages and saw a picture of their ex lit up the same areas as where physical pain from a broken bone is felt.

They theorized this may be because emotional pain is like an expression that was meant to be expressed, but wasn’t. You wanted to scream at your friend for making you late to work when she took too long to apply her make-up but you didn’t actually scream. Yet, the residual muscle spasms in your neck, throat and jaw as you suppressed the scream is still there. That thoughtless person’s action is still felt as a pain in the neck or feeling “fed up” (a heaviness in your chest and gut) that sometimes are so deeply felt.

All emotions have a motor component, even when we try to hide them, we have facial micro- expressions, a millisecond muscular activation we can’t stop, that can give us away to those in the know. This is because the anterior cingulate which regulates pain and emotions is located adjacent to the pre- motor area. Once we have an emotional reaction e.g. horror, surprise, anger… the motor cortex initiates a physical response in the specific muscles that express that particular emotion before we can shut down the process.

Rage and anger are felt throughout the body and their brain signals all end up in the same place as well – where pain resides. The brain isn’t just the the head honcho, it interconnects via neural pathways in the brain stem and spinal cord to every part of the body. Neurotransmitters are constantly updated as interactions between the brain and peripheral nervous system are monitored, and feelings change. 

Anger is a powerful emotion. It can spur us to great heights. But remaining angry long term can lead to harmful behaviors. Asking “why me,” worrying about issues we can’t control, dealing with every day challenges keeps us wound up tight, in a constant state of stress, releasing adrenaline, cortisol and C-reactive proteins (CRP)- released by the liver when inflammation occurs in the body. We are just learning the importance of this little protein and how it links stress and emotional issues to chronic inflammation, pain and disease. 

Human beings are multifaceted. All aspects of our environment, interactions, health, and emotions have an impact. Trying to separate the physical from emotional responses is impossible. Even the brain circuitry prevents it. We are what we feel, and how we feel affects who we are. Accepting this makes dealing with our stressors easier.

Truth be told, everything is in our head. That broken bone, fever, ruptured appendix, sadness over a breakup, anger over losing a job, or worry about finances. All reside ultimately in the brain. No matter the inciting event, the results are the same- we hurt. It is not more or less objective than anything else because it’s emotional instead of physical.

But it does reinforce how much we need to treat both aspects- the physical and the emotional- aspects of what bothers us. Such as dealing with the underlying anger, fears, depression, or frustration that keep muscles tight and ready to respond but never get the opportunity. As I’ve stated in past posts, we are persistently in a fight or flight state. Just like the yell that is never vocalized when we are angry, frustrated or hurt by someone we can’t respond to, we stay wound up and prepared for any possible reaction, that is never released. That perpetual anticipation and worry shreds our muscles, overworks our heart and shuts down functions like our immune system and gastrointestinal tract (unnecessary for an immediate response)- leading to illness, GERD,  IBS, and more.

Ways to deal with stressors

Work it out

Even a few minutes a day can reset the fight or flight mode back to baseline. Allowing tense, painful muscles to do what they been aching to do- react.

Hit a punching bag

It can be quit cathartic. Physically releasing your feelings onto a bag. Aimed at a particular event or person can help as well when dealing directly isn’t an option. Check out my post where my daughter and I added pictures!

Yelling where no one can hear

Screaming at the top of your voice can be a terrific way to let loose and tell the universe how you’re feeling. 

Put it all on paper

Taking the time to write down your feelings and put them into words can be a wonderful way to heal. If appropriate send it to the person of interest. If too angry or emotional and just needed to vent, ripping it up into pieces can work too. 

Talk it out

With the offending party, a friend or counselor. Saying your feelings out loud can often be enough to move on. But when friends and family can’t help, call a professional. They aren’t there to tell you what to do, just to offer perspectives and options that may otherwise missed or ignored.

Use a pillow

 Have a pillow fight while verbalizing your concerns. A safe way to physically connect while explaining the pain and anger can often move us forward. But if it ever feels like it may progresses physically stop immediately and get to safety.

Change your viewpoint

In the throes of passion we often forget there are two sides to every discussion. Whether you agree with it, taking the time to think about and put yourself in their shoes may be a way to find common ground and a way forward.

Change your environment

Get out. Take a walk. It can change your perspective. Sometimes just a momentary distancing from the inciting issue can be enough to allow time to decompress and calm down.

Dance, draw, paint

Use your creative side to “verbalize” your feelings. Letting loose in ways that aren’t structured, rigid or controlled can help us to better acknowledge and release our worries and fears. At the very least it’ll be an opportunity to spend time using a side many of us rarely express. 


Calm the mind and disengage from the day-to-day stressors and worries with meditation. Whether it’s a set time each day or practicing techniques like breathing in to the count of five, holding your breath for the count of five, breathing out for the count of five… when needed throughout the day it can be a great way to stop the tension and relax.

Just Breathe

The old adage, “count to ten” before reacting, is a good one. Often what we’d do in the heat of the moment is nothing like we’d do after calm, thoughtful analysis of the situation. Take a few minutes and breathe. As I’ve discussed in multiple posts it’s easy to do in any situation.


Coming to a point where we can accept where we are and what we can accomplish in spite of the pain. Realizing it doesn’t keep us from enjoying our lives, we do. I may not be able to jog, ski, lift that 50 lb plant when home alone… But that doesn’t change the facts. I can still take care of myself, have fun and live life, just differently. Once I make the pivot from “fix me” to “how do I live with my pain” the rest gets easier. 

Don’t keep it bottled inside. Find resources that work for you and get it out. Your mind, and body, will thank you.




-https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/pent-up anger 



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