We all feel anger, yes even the super zen yogi you follow on Instagram who looks like they don’t have an angry bone in their body. It’s a part of life, and while you can limit anger, you can’t really avoid it.
Luckily, with anger, the quote “life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you react to it” by author Charles R. Swindoll really applies.
Whether the anger you feel slowly destroys your body and mind or helps you grow, is up to you.
So how can you channel anger in a way that leads to positivity, productivity, and creativity?
Your Brain and Body on Anger
We all know what anger is, and we’ve all felt the immediate physiological effects; the blood rushing, face reddening, heart racing, fist clenching rage that takes over.
That feeling that makes even the most monk-like of us want to just hit something. But what about what anger actually does to the body and mind?
When we feel anger, our fight or flight response is triggered, flooding our body with a whole bunch of chemicals that lead to a loss in serotonin (the happiness hormone) and cell death.
And over time, this can lead to decreased immune function, clogged and damaged blood vessels, increased risk of heart attack, lowered metabolism, less bone density, and even weaker eyesight.
And anger can also get in the way of making good decisions.
So how can any of that be flipped into a good thing? It’s all about how you channel anger.
The Three Responses to Anger
There are three main ways to respond to anger; suppression, destructive expression (or thoughtless expression), and healthy channeling.
Suppression is feeling anger, but not expressing it. It’s that “suck it up and smile” no matter what’s going on mentality.
And suppressing anger is a lot more than putting on a smile and acting like it’s not there, it’s finding unhealthy ways to numb the feeling of anger, like turning to drugs or alcohol.
Suppressing your anger, makes you feel like you’re not dealing with anger in the moment, but you still receive all the negative health implications mentioned above, and eventually, all that anger that stays bottled up explodes.
When that unavoidably happens, it leads to big regrets.
Then there’s the thoughtless expression that occurs when you let anger completely take control, and you lose it.
This method of responding to anger is something we’re all probably guilty of, even if we like to pretend we’re not. It’s when we respond to anger by yelling, blaming, criticizing, and in extreme situations; resorting to violence.
The way this response method messes things up in life is pretty easy to see; it hurts (or ends) relationships, leads to embarrassment and regret, and causes tons of stress.
While the destructive expression of anger hurts the ones you love, in the end, it hurts you more than anyone else.
Channeling your anger is using it as your own personal superpower. It’s using anger to fuel the things you want in life instead of destroying it.
How to Channel Your Anger
First thing first, before you can use anger to fuel anything positive in your life, you have to accept that it’s okay to feel angry.
One more time for the people in the back, it’s okay to feel angry.
Most of us are trained from a young age that if an emotion is unpleasant or impolite, we should suppress it. But anger is a normal part of life, and as long as it’s not excessive or controlling your life, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with feeling it.
Once you’ve accepted that, it’s time to channel your anger into power. Here are five ways to channel anger, that you can start today.
1. Soar to Success
Anger provides energy and motivation. It’s that same motivation that arises from the “fight” response, preparing our bodies and minds to take on any challenge for survival.
Harness the energy from anger and use it as fuel to build success in your personal or business life. Using anger to fuel success can be as big as channeling anger into starting a new business or side hustle, or as small as organizing your workspace or cleaning your home.
Or if you’re angry because someone you care about has expressed that they don’t believe you can succeed at something or because you don’t think you’re on the right track in life, use your anger as motivation for change.
Prove the person who thinks you won’t succeed wrong. Or use that energy to create a plan that will get you to where you want to be in life.
After all, the greatest revenge is success, so whether you’re taking out some vengeance on anger itself or another person, nothing will make you feel better than turning it into success.
2. Move it Out
It’s been long known that exercise reduces stress, and since feeling angry is caused by a stressor, moving your body is a great way to channel anger.
While movement like yoga is a great way to deal with anger, if you’re feeling really heated you might be better off with something more intense, like running.
Or maybe you just need to hit something, if that’s the case choose a punching bag or enjoy a game of tennis.
Whatever you choose, exercise will give you a way to release angry energy and clear your mind. Plus, the endorphins released from exercise will help replace anger with an uplifted mood.
3. Do Something Good
Sometimes when we’re angry, things can feel hopeless, but an incredible way to channel anger and ditch that hopelessness is doing something good for another person or for the world.
My boyfriend told me that recently when we were in the middle of a fight, he had found himself alone exploring a temple when a couple asked if he could take their picture. After taking it for them, he watched them smiling and expressing how awesome the picture had come out.
He said it made him instantly feel a little bit better.
And research backs it up, showing that acts of kindness, no matter how small release dopamine, and it’s a lot harder to stay angry with a steady dose of dopamine.
4. Create Something
When we experience anger, we think a bit irrationally, and our imagination can go into overdrive.
When used the wrong way, this can lead to bad choices and way too much anxiety. But, to channel anger, this irrationality and imagination can be used to fuel creativity.
Channel your anger into painting, sculpting, woodworking, pottery, whatever sounds best to you.
Pick your preferred art form, and always have some supplies ready. This way when something makes you angry, you’re ready to go.
Even if you feel like you’re not the least bit creative, this is a great way to channel anger. Don’t think, just create; pick up that paintbrush and use it to express your anger.
You might be surprised at just how artistic you really are and how much better it can make you feel.
5. Turn it Into Gratitude
I’ve been traveling around southeast Asia for a couple of months now, and a lot of things make me feel angry, so I’ve been testing this one out myself.
When I felt angry that the hot water in a place I stayed ran out in minutes, I reminded myself of the older lady I saw washing her face in an alley, and quickly replaced it with “but I’m grateful for always having a roof over my head and running water.”
When I felt angry that the WiFi somewhere was too slow, I reminded myself of how awesome it is that I can work while traveling and quickly replaced it with “but I’m grateful for the chance to make money while I travel.”
This tip might sound super minor, and while it can be in the way that it won’t make what you feel angry about go away, it’s also monumental because a shift in perspective can be life-changing.
Anger can lead to frustration and feeling like things are wrong, and if it goes unchecked, those feelings will spiral out of control until it feels like you’re living in a dark cloud, when you’re really not.
To keep things in perspective, take whatever you’re angry about and channel it into a “but I’m grateful for….” statement.
Away With Anger
No matter how much you try to avoid it, at some point anger will find you, and knowing healthy ways to channel anger can be the difference between letting it overpower you or turning it into your power.
What’s your favorite (healthy) way to channel anger?