Last updated on April 18, 2020
Under stress, some people ‘underfunction’ – they shut down. Withdraw. Just stop.
Others ‘overfunction’ and leap into action, organising, planning, getting things done.
Recognising that we have different reactions to intense stress can help when our default copinig strategy is at odds with someone else’s.
Think of a family getting bad news about a loved one’s health.
One sibling may leap into action, arrange round the clock care, navigate the new world of medical jargon and treatment plans.
Another sibling might barely make it to visit (when that’s allowed again) occasionally.
This can (naturally) create additional tension and stress as the ‘underfunctioning’ person feels like they need to resist being railroaded and the ‘overfunctioning’ person feels like they’re having to do EVERYTHING.
Today’s self care coaching tool offers a way to be present with uncomfortable feelings like anger and rage and to get them out of the body and whole system with practical action.
It also offers a way to get past the inertia of helplessness and hopelessness and to connect with the suppressed energy and strength that you still have access to.
While I used a hammer and nails and some old fence panels that need (still got a few to go) fixing, you can use any chore that works for you:
- washing windows
- mopping floors
- digging in the garden
- cutting brambles back
- mowing the lawn
- painting a wall (ideally, for this, something big and easy not delicate work)
- sweeping the yard
- cleaning the bathroom
You might want to make your own list or add to what feels relevant from these ideas.
Once you’ve allowed yourself to FEEL that rage (or energy) and have tired yourself out a bit, remember to give the nervous system a break and have a rest.
Whether in Savasana, Child Pose or simply sitting on the sofa, notice the breath and heart rate return to normal.
Notice how you feel after the exertion.
You may want to give yourself three minutes or longer and activate the Relaxation Response
By lifting (with the exertion – hammering nails etc) then lowering (with rest) the nervous system, we’re retraining it to lower itself after life’s inevitable stresses.
You might then have another burst of activity or that might be enough for now.
I’m rationing the fence panels for when I really want to thwack something safely.
What’s helping you connect with your anger in a safe, healthy and effective way?
Other ideas include throwing balls at a wall with all your strength. We’re looking for ways to honour the body’s natural fight flight impulse. Obviously, be careful about what you throw and where but this can be very effective.
You can also smash crockery (and use the broken bits in planters for drainage – look at me, sharing DIY and gardening tips. I hardly recognise myself).
Let yourself feel the feelings, honour the feelings and let go of the feelings.
Far far faster to express the anger than attempt to suppress it.
Also far healthier.
What helps you?