Anger and Stress Management Tips for Satisfying Relationships
The Path From Anger To Stress to Depression
Anger and hatred often go together when you don’t get cared for in the way you want and expect. If your expectations and hopes are dashed over and over again, the anger and loathing get bigger and more ferocious.
But you are probably too scared to let it out.
You feel love and hate for the person at the same time. These two contrary feelings put you in a bind.
You can’t walk away, and you can’t express your rage.
You fear that if the one you are upset with will crumble. Then you won’t have anyone to be be attached to, and being alone is more frightening.
You imagine that the person you are mad at doesn’t care about you – in fact they hate you and are just one step away from walking out on you!
So you keep it all in, seething inside with no room for anything else.
All that scary anger makes your body release stress hormones to cope with the intense anger that threatens your heart, blood pressure, digestive system and mental well-being.
Chronic stress not only causes several serious health problems, but often leads to a long and unrelenting depression. You may not even be aware of it, because you have got used to the exhaustion and sense of depletion that comes with being stressed. You already feel depleted, so adding demotivation and lack of vitality isn’t such a change.
But depression is serious.
- Your self-esteem and confidence plummet.
- Your sleep cycle is disrupted. You may sleep for longer periods or not get much sleep at all.
- Your appetite may increase or decrease.
- You lose your libido.
- You are more prone to pain – headaches, back aches, joint and muscle pain.
- You can’t relate to people socially and curtail your activities.
- Your concentration wanes and you are more ambivalent when it comes to decision making.
Depression is Anger Turned Inward
Pretending and or denying your anger and fear about the disappointment in your significant relationships alters the trajectory of the anger towards yourself. You are more willing to kill off your real-self than destroy loved ones and be alone. That is psychological suicide.
Anger turned inwards makes you false to yourself. Your pretence turns you into an inauthentic person, and your psyche can’t survive under that constant murder of your true self.
Depression is often brought on when we move too far away from our true selves to be something or someone that we think we should be to gain some sort of prized place in society. Skewing yourself too far in one direction is not psychologically healthy, so depression puts the brakes on.
When you garden, your body gets rids of harmful enzymes accumulated during stress induced depression.
A recent article in Br J Psychiatry, 2014, revealed that the effect of antidepressants on allieviating depressive symptoms was largely controlled by expectations of those taking them. Given that these medications are not guarenteed to help you, why not turn to what is known to help in the short term and in the long term?
The journal Cell, Sept, 2014 published an article proving the biolgical effect of exercise in nature (such as gardening) being especially beneficial to stress induced depression. Harmful kynurenine, a substance produced by stress, is converted by muscle into a neutral chemical, detoxifying your system.
Gardening is connecting with nature in a hands on intimate way. It’s as if the act of getting involved – getting your hands dirty so to speak is a way of you touching your own roots and feeling your own soul in an authentic way.
Planting and hoeing, trimming and cleaning – it’s a metaphor for what you are doing inside your psyche. That’s why it’s so healing. And if you are growing produce you are also taking charge of feeding yourself something real rather than some arbitrary goal of reaching some status in life that may or may not be nourishing
Gardening also helps you feel good about yourself when you see your efforts bloom in a tangible way that depends on no other person. There is an immediate response from seeds when they germinate, or a plant that wilts and dies if you put it in the wrong type of soil. In addition gardening means dealing with nature that you can’t control perfectly – insects, weather etc. That is something that is part of the depressive process – to mourn the loss of what you can’t control and learn to adapt and be more flexible to what life brings – rather than try to fit some predetermined goal.
Gardening provides something to look forward to each day, several times a day when you go out to check how your plants are doing, and care for them in the tiniest of ways – removing a dead leaf, or dead heading a spent bloom.
Exercising in natural surroundings is the key to relieving the symptoms of depression by being in touch with nature, Ecopsychology, September 2014, and gardening is a great form of physical exercise.
So get gardening, even if it is one pot with one plant indoors or a few on a balcony. One large container can give your vegetables and edible flowers, scent and color – that you help nurture and create. When you do it you eliminate stress and create a more wholesome you. Then you can express your anger without fear of loss.
copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D. 2014
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Disclaimer: this article is for informational and educative purposes only. Dr. Raymond is not responsible for any reactions you may have when reading the content or using the suggestions therein. Interacting with this material does not constitute a therapeutic relationship with Dr. Jeanette Raymond
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