MENTAL HEALTH TIPS: Don’t Let Bitterness Rule Your Life

The Bible warns about the impact of bitterness and anger.  It’s “poison” will harm you and your loved ones. If bitterness is a “root” growing in your heart, it’s time to pull it out!  You can take healthy actions.

According to studies including the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 85% of all diseases have a strong link to your emotional state. Some experts believe the real percentage is even higher. Tingling, difficulty thinking clearly, heart palpitations or tightening of the chest, increased blood pressure, headaches, pressure in the head or sinus cavities, fatigue, digestive imbalances, insomnia, anxiety, depression, skin problems (including eczema), heart attack, and stroke can all be manifestations of your emotional state.

Stop letting your past control how you experience the present; pick a few of the following anger-busters to practice in your life.

Take a break.  Did you know that it takes 20 minutes for your body to come down from its fight-or-flight mode? Leave the room. Talk yourself down by saying the same things you would say to a friend in this situation. Do whatever it takes to get your heart rate down and start thinking clearly.

Make a list of your accomplishments. What is good in your life? What do you do well?

Be present in the moment. What is going on around you right now that you can enjoy and participate in fully?  Dwelling on the past can’t change the past, it will only ruin your mood now.

Practice good health and mental health. Eat healthy, find exercise you enjoy, compliment yourself, relax and don’t let yourself get over-burdened, grow a support circle, find a spiritual outlet, and see a therapist if you need to.

Mindfulness. This approach teaches you to ground your emotions, noticing and accepting your feelings without judgement.  Acknowledging emotions helps us work through them and move on, and the relaxation tools mindfulness provides are very beneficial.

Engage in a relaxing activity.  For example, color a picture or take a candle-lit bath. Practice breathing slowly while you do this.

Accept yourself. Accept that you have negative feelings, and that it’s ok to have them. Experience the good and bad feelings, working through them without judgement. It’s ok to go back to a feeling you thought you’d worked through.

Know yourself.  Discover what triggers your anger and plan ahead for it. What happens in your body right before you lose your cool?  Can you remove yourself from the situation before you get to that point? Practice different ways of calming down to discover what works for you and what doesn’t.

Set Boundaries. You are in charge of what your relationships look like. Defining the behavior you will accept in a relationship is healthy and necessary.  This structure allows our relationships to flourish, as both parties know what is expected.

Learn Assertiveness.  Tell people why you feel the way you feel, taking ownership of your feelings. Let people know how their behavior affects you without blaming or becoming aggressive.

Forgive. Bitterness allows an offending party to continue to hurt you, over and over every time you ruminate on the situation. Forgiveness is about setting yourself free from their grasp. The health benefits of forgiving are astonishing.  Using the above-mentioned techniques, work continuously toward forgiveness, if not for your wrongdoer, then for yourself.

If you need help working through issues of anger and bitterness, Anchorpoint can help. Call to schedule an appointment with a counselor who can work with you on healthy coping strategies for a peaceful future. Call Anchorpoint today at 412-366-1300.