How To Release Anger Physically In A Healthy Way

John Wood, Founder of Rageheart

by John Wood · Updated

How To Release Anger Physically In A Healthy Way

If you want to know how to release anger physically in a healthy way, this is the article for you.

It all starts with a story about how I murdered my beanie today.

(Or as Canadians say… “tuque”)

Seriously.

Approximately 17 minutes ago, I tried to break my beanie’s soft, fluffy neck 😳

It started friendly enough 😎

I sat on the day bed in my office and “dropped in” with the usual Rageheart tools.

I looked around, felt the ground and let my breath run free.

That’s when I noticed an agitated feeling my gut.

You might call it “anxiety” but these days I just call it “nervous system activation” (or even just “activation”).

Next came the yawns…

Big, skull-cracking yawns that left an ache at the back of my head.

Then my breath started increasing in speed.

At first, I thought I was tired…

…but I’ve worked with my nervous system long enough now to know the signs.

Funny feeling in my gut?

Rapid-fire yawns?

Breathing faster?

That’s not tiredness.

That’s survival stress from the past that’s on the move 😯

So I did what I’ve learned to do in situations like this:

I carried on.

I looked at the Eucalyptus trees outside my window while feeling the day bed mattress beneath me.

I yawned while gazing at Zeus on my lap.

I kept my eyes OPEN (so I could stay connected to the environment around me).

Then I remembered something one of my teachers told me:

Sometimes when survival energy is “on the move”, it’s better to get up and move rather than sit perfectly still.

(Sidenote: this is one reason meditation isn’t always the right tool for the job)

So I stood up and started pacing around my office.

I walked out onto the veranda and had a few yawn attacks…

…and then I returned to my office to continue pacing.

I wasn’t sure what it was this time…

Sometimes it’s anger and aggression.

Sometimes it’s fear and terror.

And sometimes it’s just yawns that roll through and then vanish.

How To Release Anger Physically In A Healthy Way

Eventually I started to feel the signs of aggression in my face 😡

I wanted to narrow my eyes and raise my upper lip, classic physiological signs of aggression.

That’s when I grabbed my beanie.

It was time to put this energy to use (so it could leave the body).

In other words…

It was time to murder my beanie 😲

I went outside, got down on the ground and rolled the beanie up in my hands.

Then I waited for the next big yawn.

When I hit, I unleashed (the beast 😏).

I twisted the shit out of that beanie as if it was something or someone’s neck… growling, snarling and heaving as if my life depended upon it (because sometime in my past, it did).

Then the yawn passed.

I paused, looked around at the garden, felt the ground and watched my breath 😮‍💨

Was there more?

WAS THERE?!?!??

Yes.

Yes there was.

Another wave came…

…and another…

…and another.

I have no idea how many waves of aggression rolled through me but I stuck with it. Twisting and squeezing and murdering that poor black beanie.

And then, after some unknown number of aggression waves, it was done.

The yawns stopped.

My breathing slowed down.

And I started to feel normal again.

To finish, I resourced (as I teach in Rage 2 inside The Rageheart Academy).

I went to my guitar and played a song called Breath In to soothe and settle my nervous system back into Parasympathetic 🎸

Resourcing is important, especially in situations like this.

After a big bout of sympathetic fight-or-flight activation (anger, fear, sadness, etc), it’s important to do something to bring the nervous system back down into recovery mode (so we don’t stay in an elevated sympathetic state).

You can do it with anything… though there are obviously more healthy and less healthy options.

For example, alcohol soothes the system and disconnects us from our bodies… but playing the guitar and singing soothes while increasing and improving the connection to our bodies.

I like to sing (with or without my guitar) because using our voice hits the vagus nerve, which activates the Parasympathetic Nervous System.

So I did that… and now I’m here, writing this email to you, laughing to myself about the whole experience 🤣

Once again, I am astounded and amazed by the magic of this approach. Every time this happens, I am blown away.

I also wonder how anyone gets through life without the nervous system tools. It would be so easy to mistake an experience like this for a terrifying panic attack, anxiety or even just tiredness… and without the tools to work with it, the energy just stays in the nervous system and keeps it chronically activated.

I like sharing these experiences because I feel it gives context to what this work is, how it works and just how powerful and insane it can be.

When I said I growled and raged, I meant it. This isn’t a mild, “light and love” type of thing. This is an all out WAR with the beanie (or towel, wall or pillow – all things I’ve used in the past).

If someone saw or heard me, they’d think I’ve either lost my mind… or that I’m about to kill someone. And I wouldn’t blame them… given that this is the energy of the FIGHT response… the energy of attack, kill and destroy (with the purpose of restoring safety and Parasympathetic “rest and digest”).

It’s a good example of how it differs from something like meditation too.

There are techniques in the world of nervous system healing that are the same as meditation, such as tracking sensations and watching the breath.

However, meditation’s advice in situations like this is usually to simply watch or feel the sensation… and for me at least, especially with anger and aggression, that approach never worked.

So there you have it.

Today I released my anger and frustration physically into my beanie (in a healthy way) 🧸

The good news is that my beanie was never alive to begin with… so he can never die either.

And that means I can still keep my head warm tonight 🥳

If you want to learn how to work with your nervous system to release anger physically in a healthy way, join me inside The Rageheart Academy.

The only catch is that we don’t focus on the fight response and healthy aggression until 2-3 months into the program.

That’s the tricky thing with nervous system work:

You can’t simply go in and pick the emotion to work with.

Anger and aggression is some of the most intense survival energy that exists… and it takes time to prepare the nervous system to handle it.

Before we get to that, we need to ingrain the basics of ground, environment, breath, pendulation and nervous system theory.

Beyond that, things come when they come.

I didn’t choose or decide to release anger physically today… my body decided for me.

That’s how this works.

Our job is to create the right conditions for the nervous system to open up and let things go. The “right conditions” are things like safety, presence and a strong connection to the environment around you. What comes up (and when it comes) is up to the body and the nervous system.

Continue learning with me inside The Rageheart Academy at the link below:

https://www.rageheart.co/go/

Cheers,

John Wood

P.S. Know anyone who needs help working with big emotions (whether rage, terror, grief or something else)?

Refer them to The Daily Growl (this email newsletter) and give them a powerful, new approach to understanding and releasing dust from the past.

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