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Repressed Anger: 22 Healing Ways to Release Anger & Focus on the Positives

Anger is a natural human emotion. We all feel it from time to time, but we all need to know how to release anger in a healthy way. So, here’s how to do it.

repressed anger and how to release anger

You’re stuck in traffic. Again. The driver in front of you is moving slower than a snail on vacation, and the red light seems to be having the time of its life staying red. You can feel your heartbeat rising, and your grip tightens on the steering wheel. That’s when you need to know how to release anger.

Sound familiar? Moments like these can make us ponder the age-old question: How can we release anger in a healthy way? In this feature, we’ll explore the complex psychology behind anger and dig into the scientific methods to manage it.

Get ready for an intriguing journey into understanding how to release anger—without cursing at innocent traffic lights or putting a dent in your steering wheel.

The Psychology of Anger

So, you’re in that traffic jam, and you’re fuming. But what’s really going on inside of you? Well, our good friends William James and Carl Lange came up with a theory to explain this emotional rollercoaster.

According to the James-Lange Theory of Emotion, your heart isn’t racing because you’re angry. You’re actually angry because your heart is racing. That’s right, your body is pulling a fast one on you!

It’s like your physiology throws a party and your emotions are the last to get the invite. This understanding could be a first step on your journey to figure out how to release anger in a meaningful way.

Now, you might be wondering why we get so hot under the collar in the first place. It’s not like we’re looking to get all huffy and puffy, right? Let’s hit the rewind button and travel back—way back—to our cave-dwelling days.

Anger had a vital role in the survival kit of early humans. [Read: 22 Secrets to stop being so angry, calm your mind, and stop hurting yourself]

When someone tried to snatch your freshly hunted dinner, getting angry had a purpose. You see, anger can fuel social cohesion and self-preservation.

If you didn’t get a little fiery, you’d probably starve or become someone else’s dinner. But in modern times, getting angry at a colleague for stealing your stapler probably won’t save your life, although it may help you identify repressed anger that needs to be addressed.

Science-Backed Methods to Release Anger

Alright, so you’ve identified that you’re angry—what’s next? You don’t want to let it fester, creating a boiling pot of repressed anger. [Read: Angry sex – the primal secrets to have a wild time and do it safe and right]

No, you want to release it in a way that’s both healthy and effective. Let’s check out what the experts suggest on how to release anger without throwing any punches—literally or metaphorically.

1. Mindfulness

So, mindfulness, that buzzword that’s been floating around like a butterfly, actually has some strong scientific legs to stand on.

Studies on Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction *MBSR* show that being aware of the present moment can significantly regulate emotional reactivity.

In simpler terms, mindfulness allows you to catch yourself before you fall down the anger rabbit hole. It’s like having a built-in emotional brake system.

2. Physical Exercise as an Outlet

Here’s a fun one—get moving! Whether you’re into Zumba or powerlifting, physical activity has a pretty neat trick up its sleeve: it releases endorphins.

These little chemicals act as natural mood lifters, helping you dissipate that cloud of anger hanging over you. A little sweat can go a long way when you’re figuring out how to release anger. [Read: 26 Secrets to get motivated to work out and exercise your way to a better life]

3. Take a Hot, Relaxing Bath

Imagine your roommate leaves a pile of dishes in the sink for the umpteenth time, and you’re starting to steam.

A hot bath can do wonders for your mood by triggering the release of dopamine, our brain’s “feel-good” neurotransmitter. Plus, the warm water can physically relax tense muscles, a common symptom of repressed anger.

4. Go to Sleep

Your boss sends an unreasonable email request right as you’re about to clock out for the day. Your first reaction is to reply with a snarky comment. [Read: 21 Common couple sleeping positions, what they mean, and the best ones]

Sleep serves as a natural emotional reset button. Studies have shown that lack of sleep exacerbates emotional reactivity, so catching some Zs can offer a fresh perspective on how to release anger.

5. Listen to Uplifting Music

You get a parking ticket even though you swear you were within the lines. Rage starts to build. Research indicates that music can modulate activity in brain regions linked to emotion.

Uplifting tunes may activate your brain’s reward pathways, providing an immediate way to release anger. [Read: 40 Fun and upbeat songs to groove you out of that funk]

6. Paint or Do Something Crafty

You find out your favorite coffee shop is out of your go-to blend. How could they? Creative expression can be a potent form of emotional release.

The act of creating something can redirect your focus and energy away from feelings of anger or repressed anger.

7. Play with a Pet

Your online order gets delayed, and you’re tempted to send an angry email to customer service. [Read: Adopting a pet? The true signs you’re ready to get a pet together]

Interacting with pets has been shown to release oxytocin, often referred to as the “love hormone,” which can counteract feelings of anger and stress. Who knew Fluffy was so therapeutic?

8. Write in a Journal

You’re just having one of those days where everything seems to go wrong. Journaling can serve as a form of cognitive restructuring, a technique often used in CBT.

By putting your thoughts on paper, you can gain a new perspective on how to release both immediate and repressed anger. [Read: Narcissistic rage – how to handle the angry backlash of a narcissist]

9. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy *CBT* Techniques

Last but definitely not least, let’s talk CBT. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy offers a handy tool known as the ABC Model.

“A” stands for the activating event *that traffic jam or stolen stapler*, “B” is your belief about the event, and “C” is the emotional consequence.

By challenging your beliefs, you can actually change how you feel. It’s like being your own emotional detective, investigating how to release both immediate and repressed anger.

Unconventional But Effective Ways to Release Anger

And if you’ve already tried the things listed above and are looking for something a bit more, shall we say, unconventional, you might want to check out these unexpected yet science-backed methods for releasing both immediate and repressed anger.

Trust us, they’re not just fun and different—they’re legit effective. [Read: 41 Rules of life to never be unhappy and be the one who screams “I love my life”]

1. Laughter Therapy

Imagine you’ve been caught in another long Zoom meeting that could’ve been an email *we’ve all been there*. The tension rises. But what if, instead of banging your head on the desk, you just let out a hearty laugh?

Believe it or not, laughter therapy is a thing. In fact, laughter has been found to increase the production of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals.

It’s like flipping a switch to de-escalate your mood, giving you a quirky but effective method on how to release anger.

2. Pet Therapy

You’re waiting in a never-ending queue, and you’re almost at the boiling point. Instead of visualizing punching a wall, how about petting a dog or cuddling with a cat?

Studies have shown that interactions with pets can increase levels of oxytocin. This hormone, often called the “love hormone,” has the magical ability to calm your nervous system and decrease feelings of anger. [Read: 9 Tips for couples who are planning to get a pet]

3. Rage Rooms

Picture out you’ve had a day where everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. Instead of keeping it all bottled up, you find yourself in a room where you can safely smash things to bits—legally! Welcome to the world of rage rooms.

These spaces are designed for you to vent your frustrations in a controlled environment. [Read: I hate my ex – 21 reasons why it’s okay and steps to handle the rage positively]

Some studies suggest that physical expression can be a valid form of catharsis, providing a release valve for pent-up emotions, including repressed anger.

4. Forest Bathing

You’re scrolling through social media, seeing people live their “best lives,” and you can’t help but feel a surge of envy and irritation. Instead of stewing in your feelings, why not take a walk among the trees?

The Japanese practice of “Shinrin-yoku,” or forest bathing, has been shown to reduce stress hormone levels and improve mood. It’s a serene method for those looking for a gentle way on how to release anger.

5. Food Smashing

You’ve just had an argument, and you’re feeling all kinds of heated. Instead of eating your feelings, what if you literally smashed them? Some folks find solace in taking a hammer to a watermelon or crushing grapes underfoot.

Though there’s limited scientific data specifically on food smashing, the act can offer a similar cathartic release to more physical outlets like exercise. Plus, it’s not quite a good idea to waste food.

6. Drumming Circles

Stuck in traffic again and ready to honk your way into more stress? How about drumming your frustrations away? Drumming has been used in various cultures as a form of emotional release. [Read: 17 Life secrets to smile more often, feel great and laugh your stress away]

Research has indicated that group drumming, in particular, can produce emotional and social benefits, offering another intriguing option on how to release anger.

The Consequences of Holding onto Anger

Alright, we’ve talked a lot about how to release anger, but let’s switch gears and discuss what happens when you don’t. It’s not just your mood that takes a hit; both your body and your relationships can suffer.

So, let’s delve into the science-backed consequences of hanging onto that pent-up or repressed anger. Trust us, the stakes are higher than you might think! [Read: 5 Ways volunteer work can help with depression]

1. Physical Impact

Imagine you’ve been feeling irritable for weeks, snapping at everyone from your barista to your best friend. Your anger isn’t just annoying; it’s actually bad for your heart—literally.

Studies have found that prolonged anger can be a risk factor for conditions like hypertension and cardiovascular disease. That repressed anger you’re holding onto could be ticking away like a time bomb, affecting your overall physical health.

2. Emotional and Psychological Impact

You had a terrible, no good, very bad day at work, and now you’re home sulking on your couch. You think you’re only hurting yourself, but what if your mood spreads like wildfire? [Read: Why are girls so moody? 17 reasons and ways to help her deal with them]

Enter emotional contagion—the phenomenon where emotions and related behaviors can spread quickly among individuals. Your pent-up or repressed anger can negatively impact not only your mental well-being but also your relationships with those around you.

What Not to Do

So you’ve learned the potential risks of holding onto anger and some effective techniques for letting it go.

But before you go all in, let’s talk about a common myth people often fall for when trying to release anger or deal with repressed emotions. Spoiler alert: it’s not what you think, and it’s backed by science. [Read: 25 Ways to let go of resentment, stop feeling bitter, and start living]

1. Venting as a Myth

You’ve probably heard the advice, “Just let it all out, scream into a pillow or punch a bag to feel better.” Sounds satisfying, doesn’t it? Well, it’s time for a reality check.

This belief aligns with the Catharsis Theory, which suggests that releasing aggressive energy through action or fantasy reduces anger. However, contemporary research suggests the opposite.

Studies have shown that venting can actually escalate feelings of anger and aggression, rather than dissipate them. So, when it comes to how to release anger or manage repressed anger, venting might just be fanning the flames.

2. Suppressing Emotion

Many people think bottling up their anger is the adult thing to do. Well, think again. Research has shown that suppressing emotions can lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases and could even lower your life expectancy.

Suppressing anger is especially detrimental, as it can turn into repressed anger, lurking beneath the surface and causing even more harm long-term. [Read: Silent treatment in a relationship – why it hurts and 37 must-knows to handle it]

3. Indulging in Negative Self-talk

Sometimes, when we’re angry, it’s easy to get into a loop of negative self-talk. You might find yourself ruminating on the things that made you angry in the first place or even blaming yourself for feeling that way.

The issue here is that negative self-talk reinforces feelings of anger and might contribute to a negative emotional spiral, supported by cognitive psychology research on “automatic thoughts.”

4. Social Media Rants

Ah, the temptation to vent your frustrations in 280 characters or less can be enticing. While it might feel good in the moment, public venting rarely leads to a solution and can often make the situation worse. [Read: Social media addiction – the 16 alarming symptoms and how to break out]

Plus, a study on emotional contagion in digital platforms found that negative emotions can spread more quickly than positive ones, meaning your rant could have a broader emotional impact than you intended.

5. Overreliance on Alcohol or Substances

Sometimes people turn to alcohol or other substances as a way to “numb” their emotions. While this might offer a temporary reprieve, substances don’t address the underlying issue and can lead to dependency and other health risks.

Adopt Healthier Ways to Manage Your Feelings

We can’t stress enough how vital it is to adopt healthier ways to manage your feelings. Just think of it as an investment in your future self: a future where you’re not only happier but also healthier, both emotionally and physically.

[Read: 29 Red flags to tell if someone wants to hurt you and harm you emotionally]

So, the next time anger starts to build, take a deep breath and remember that you have a toolkit of effective, science-backed methods at your disposal for how to release anger. Your body, your mind, and everyone around you will thank you. And hey, your future self is already giving you a high five!

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Carol Morgan LP
Dr. Carol Morgan
Dr. Carol Morgan has a Ph.D. in communication and is a professor at Wright State University where she loves corrupting young minds. As a relationship and succes...