When I posted my blog last week about frustration with anti-vaxers, I was asked the question, “How do we channel anger into something positive?”
The news is filled with statistics about the Delta variant. ICU’s full, health care workers completely burned out, more children getting sicker.
We see terrible pictures showing the effects of climate change. The devastation of the fires out West. The intensity of the storms we have been experiencing over the last couple of years has increased. Our oceans are being overrun with plastic and other garbage.
And the news covers the isms, nightly. Racism, terrorism, antisemitism, ageism, sexism …
It is no wonder we are angry. It is no wonder we are scared. It is no wonder we feel a sense of despair.
So, how do we channel our anger into something positive?
Creativity is a great outlet for channeling anger. Do you like to cook? Try cooking something new. Maybe you have some things in the refrigerator that just need to be cooked. Get creative, what can you come up with that would be delicious? Are you a writer? Channel your anger into a song, a journal, a poem or a blog post. Paint a picture or a chair that needs paining. Plan a new bed in your garden. There are a million ways to channel your anger into creativity. My sister paints rocks with inspiring sayings and leaves them places on her walk. A gift to whomever finds it.
Nature can be so healing, and if you add exercise, like a walk or a bike ride, you will burn off some of the anger. It has been documented that being in nature reduces feelings of anger, stress, and depression. Negative ions produced by waterfalls, fast moving streams and ocean waves are believed to produce biochemical reactions that increase levels of the mood chemical, serotonin, helping to alleviate depression, reduce stress and boost energy. I have certainly experienced that feeling of calm sitting by a waterfall. We all “know” that exercise is good for us. The Mayo Clinic states that “exercise in almost any form can act as a stress reliever. Being active can boost your feel-good endorphins and distract you from daily worries.” How about channeling your anger by increasing serotonin and endorphins with nature walks and exercise?
I have participated in women’s marches and campaign events. I have worked with PTA’s and civic organizations. I have a friend that carries a trash bag on every walk she takes, and she picks up trash along the way. Another person I know will not buy plastic water bottles, instead she will use refillable water bottles. Another person grows milkweed to help the monarch butterflies have food as they reproduce and migrate. Advocacy is a great way to channel anger. Take what you are angry about and get motivated to take some action. Angry about anti-vaxers? There is an organization called Advocacy for Public Health (apha.org/advocacy), that works with key decision makers to shape public policy. Get involved! Find a way to channel your anger into making change. Write letters to the editor, help the League of Women’s Voters or the ACLU or other organizations get out the vote. Take action to change what is making you angry.
There are so many studies about the benefits of helping others. In general, it takes our focus away from what is bothering us and puts it onto how to help someone else. Citing the Mayo Clinic again, research has shown that volunteering has many health benefits, especially for older adults.
- Decreasing the risk of depression
- Gaining a sense of purpose
- Staying physically and mentally active
- Reduces stress levels
- May help you live longer
- Decreases loneliness & isolation
You could channel your anger into a “helpers high.”
I do not advocate turning off the news. I tried that for a while. I feel that as members of society we need to keep ourselves informed. The trick is to listen for the facts and not the tone that is meant to play on our emotions. If you are curious about what you hear, check it out. Anger can be very motivating in positive ways.
What do you think? How do you channel your anger into positive actions?