How to Release Chronic Tension when it is Caused by Anger

Feeling tense like this grumpy cat? Photo by  Gabriel Matula  on  Unsplash

Feeling tense like this grumpy cat? Photo by Gabriel Matula on Unsplash

Anger is a tricky emotion. While some people may be overly expressive to a harmful extent, for many others expressing anger is scary and difficult. So they suppress the emotion and hold it tightly in their body. This post focuses on the latter group, because ignoring and “shoving down” feelings of anger can lead to discomfort and tension in many areas of the body.

In Polarity Therapy, Anger is associated with the Fire Element which is governed by the 3rd Chakra, also known as the Solar Plexus Chakra. Spanning the area between your solar plexus and navel, blocked energy in this chakra creates tension in the nerve plexus and digestive organs which may also cause indigestion and low energy/fatigue.

When you feel angry, notice your body posture. Are you breathing shallow, clenching your fists, hunching your shoulders or clenching your jaw and teeth? Is there somewhere else you tend to tense up when irritated? If you struggle to let go of anger, do you suffer from long-held tension in these areas where you are working hard to suppress the emotion?

Anger held in the body can cause tension, pain, digestive upset and fatigue. Here are a few harmless methods you can try to release and manage anger in your body. Choose the ones that most appeal to you. I’ve offered high-energy methods for those who need to really move to release anger, and quieter methods for those who shy away from high-intensity activity.

High Energy Methods:

  1. Get Moving / Exercise! Yep, my favorite solution for many problems! Dance it out at home, go for a run, take a high-energy class like Spin, Boxing or Zumba. Move that energy through and when you get tired, use the anger as motivation to push a little further. Just stay safe with good technique and a great instructor! If you’re dancing it out at home, put on music that gets you in touch with the anger and let your body move as it wants. No rules, steps or dance experience needed.

  2. Punch a Pillow. Maybe a boxing class isn’t your thing, or maybe you want to fully release without anyone else around. Use a pillow on a mattress to pound with your fists or swing the pillow against the bed.

  3. Scream it Out. You can use the pillow for this if you need to muffle the sounds -don’t want to alarm neighbors!

  4. Attend a Grief Retreat. Grief and Anger are often intertwined and many people release grief by wailing and screaming. Grief ceremonies are safe spaces to release whatever you need to move through your body.

Quieter Methods:

  1. Get Creative. Use that energy in an artistic form. Don’t focus on the result being “good.” Just let it be an authentic expression, whether it’s playing an instrument, drawing, painting or some other art form.

  2. Visualize the Anger in your Body. This is a more meditative approach, but really helps to get in touch with what and how you are holding an emotion. This can be used for any emotion or physical pain you are feeling:

    • Close your eyes and start to calm your breath.

    • Notice where you feel the anger being held

    • Notice if it has a shape, size, texture, color, motion, sound, scent.

    • Does anything change as you continue to breathe and notice details?

    • Continue to notice until your breathing gets slower and deeper or the discomfort decreases. Thank the image for any information it gave you.

    • Ask if it is ready to leave your body and allow it to show you how it needs to leave.

  3. Ask a Spirit Animal to hold the Anger. Perhaps the anger isn’t ready to leave or it’s not yet time to let go. But you need to go about your day without constantly feeling angry. If you have a spirit animal that you associate with anger, ask it to embody the emotion for you. I have a dragon who sits with me so that I can feel calm and centered when surrounded by internal and external anger. Pay attention to details of your animal, like if it has a name or unique color. Does anything change day to day?

  4. Breathwork! Another personal favorite and perhaps the most natural method. Visualize the anger stuck inside and running through you. What does it look like? Where is it stuck?

    1. Lay down in a comfortable position. As you inhale, tense up all of your muscles as tightly as you can without causing any pain.

    2. Exhale and let it ALL go. Relax your whole body.

    3. Repeat 3-5 times, or until you feel less tense.

    4. Finish with a few clearing Lion’s Breaths to release any remaining gunk.

  5. Get Bodywork. If you’re feeling really out of balance, see a professional bodyworker skilled with working with emotions held in the body such as an energy healing practitioner or acupuncturist.

These tips are meant to help you release physical tension caused by holding on to anger. They are not meant as a substitute for counseling. If you are struggling with anger on a regular basis, I strongly recommend seeing a trained mental health professional.