Anger can be a useful emotion because it tells us when something is unfair or unjust.
We’re often told to hide our anger or to squash it down, but no emotion is a bad one, and we can’t turn them off.
Instead, we should see anger as motivation to try and address the unfairness we’re experiencing – but we need to do it in a productive way. So how do we deal with anger?
Although we all experience anger differently, it tends to follow the same general path. We start off calm, but then something triggers a feeling of anger in us and we become bothered. If we aren’t able to deal with that, it can escalate to anger and eventually can result in a pretty dramatic eruption.
So, to avoid an eruption, here’s how you can reprogramme your anger into something positive.
Reprogramming Your Anger
1. Recognise your trigger and how you’re feeling
Ask yourself questions
Am I angry or is it a different feeling?
What has caused it?
Then check your body for
Increased heart rate
Check your mind for
Then check your behaviour
Are you acting as you would if you were calm?
2. Pause the escalation for a moment so you can reassess
Control your breathing
Count to ten
Go for a walk
Put it in perspective: “will this matter tomorrow? next week? next year?”
Feeling sad is something that happens to all of us. Your football team loses, you fall out with a friend, or something much worse happens, and it can feel like a smile is a distant memory. But what is sadness, and what actually happens to us when we feel sad?
What does serotonin do?
So this tricky little neurotransmitter in our brains is what is responsible for us feeling sad, called serotonin. A neurotransmitter essentially carries signals around our brain that controls how we feel. So, serotonin’s job is to deliver emotions and carry messages about our mood, and it’s often labelled as the ‘feel good’ neurotransmitter. It also transmits signals which help wounds to heal, and which help our digestive system to function normally.
We all have an evolutionary response to stuff that happens with us, to fight, flight or freeze. Serotonin is responsible for the freeze response in humans.
So, this is why we get depression?
There is a definite link between low serotonin levels and sadness and depression. But having less serotonin doesn’t always mean you get depression. The brains of teenagers typically have a little less serotonin than adults, which means it’s harder to process emotions, and which is probably why we all feel a bit crap when we’re teenagers.
Why do we want to increase it?
Even though it might seem like we don’t have a huge amount of control over what goes in our brains at times, increasing serotonin levels is important if we have a deficiency given its link to depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions. Doing things to naturally boost serotonin will boost our general mood and having good levels of serotonin also means we literally heal from wounds faster, so it’s basically a super power.
It’s important to know though that being sad, or feeling the effects of depression, is not a sign of weakness. If you need to talk to someone, reach out to our community here for free confidential support and advice.
How do we do it then?
Exercise every day – it boosts serotonin in your brain and some studies have demonstrated that exercise is at least equally effective at increasing available serotonin as serotonin-enhancing medications
Get your gut healthy – Much of the serotonin in your body is produced in your gut
Watch what you eat – Foods high in simple carbohydrates, such as pasta, potatoes, bread, pastries, pretzels, and popcorn, typically increase insulin levels and allow more tryptophan (the natural amino acid building block for serotonin) to enter the brain, where the brain cells can convert it to serotonin.
Light – some research suggests that serotonin tends to be lower after winter and higher in summer and fall. Serotonin’s known impact on mood helps support a link between this finding and the occurrence of seasonal affective disorder and mental health concerns linked to the seasons.
Want to know more? Here’s some things you should definitely be reading right now!
Change can suck, right? Sometimes it feels like you are just getting into the swing of life, finding your rhythm and your tribe, and then something comes around that could change everything forever. We know that that feeling can be pretty scary, and that change is not something that everyone can deal with easily. That’s why we have put together a super quick guide to getting comfortable with it.
1) Remember that change is natural
OK, so maybe this isn’t exactly what you want to hear, but change is always going to happen. It is a natural, normal and unavoidable part of being a human. We grow, we learn, we move around the planet. All of those things make staying in one place without changing pretty much impossible. Knowing that resisting change is fighting a losing battle might not seem particularly helpful right now, but coming to terms with that is a huge step towards looking at change as something positive.
2) Think how far you’ve come already
The fact that you are where you are right now has come about through change, and it must be a pretty good place if you want to stay there. A good way to understand that change is part of life, and that it can lead to good things, is to map out your life so far. Think about where you were a year ago, five years ago, ten years ago. Chances are in that time, there has been a lot of changes in your life that didn’t end up so bad, loads that probably made your life pretty epic, if only for a while.
3) Allow yourself to be not ok for a bit…
If you need to freak out about it, give yourself the space and time to do so. Why not try setting a time limit on yourself, and say you are allowed to let your mind run away with itself about the change that’s coming for no more than 30 minutes. Then, afterwards, sit down and start to rationalise. This way, you give yourself the space to feel what you need to feel about it, but it doesn’t get out of hand.
4) …Then face it head on
You might have had your mini freak out about the changes that are coming, but now is the time to understand it and face it head on. Take a moment to calm down, clear your mind and ground yourself by trying to control your breathing.
Sitting upright in a chair, place both feet flat on the floor and arm resting comfortably by your side or on your knees. Close your eyes, and let out a long breath. Then, feeling your chest rise, breathe in for five seconds through your nose. Hold it for one, and let it out for another four. Repeat this until you feel your thoughts begin to slow and you feel calmer.
Now, have a think about the changes that are coming and keep breathing in slowly and deeply. Now you’ve had this chance to freak out and process it, try to carry on with your day as normal. There is no reason to have to deal with it straight away, or all at once. In fact, processing it a little at a time might help you understand it, and that it doesn’t necessarily have to be the scariest thing in the world.
5) Change your thoughts
If you are still feeling anxious about changes that are around the corner, have a think about the possible outcomes of it, and how these might make your life better. So, if what is making your brain run wild is the prospect of moving out of home to go to uni, try thinking logically about it in a positive way. So;
‘I am worried about leaving my family’ could be ‘I get a chance to explore a new city’
‘I don’t want to leave my boyfriend/girlfriend/partner’ could be ‘I will get to meet lots of new people and it might make the relationship stronger’
‘I don’t know if I can handle the workload’ could be ‘I will be challenged, and I will be proud of what I do because of this’
We know that change can be unsettling. If you feel like you need to talk about what is going with you, you can reach out to the Ditch the Label Community here, and we will listen to you.
What actually makes us happy? There are lots of things we think will make us happy, but that kind of happiness doesn’t seem to last very long most of the time. One of the reasons for this, is a brain feature called the Hedonic Treadmill. The Hedonic Treadmill is when we feel happy or sad for a time, but then return to feeling normal. So, even though we think earning lots of money and buying things will make us happy, we can’t buy happiness, and increasing happiness doesn’t necessarily come from working hard.
For example, when you get a new phone it can make you feel really good. But it doesn’t take long before we get used to it, and eventually just take it for granted.
There are several hormones that are responsible for happiness, and these are endorphins, which are increased with exercise, serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin.
Luckily, it’s easy to increase our general sense of happiness, by doing a few simple things…
5 Tricks to Being Happier
Having meaningful connections to the people and the world around you
Learning new things, and always challenging yourself to improve
Living an active lifestyle and keeping physically active
Taking notice of the good things going on in your life by keeping a gratitude journal at the end of every day
Giving time, money and attention to other people
Happiness is a tricky thing, but doing these things every day, you will start to see your general feelings of happiness increase.
We live in an age of anxiety. With a combination of countless disasters in the news whilst being bombarded by constant ads, it comes as no surprise that the number of people in the UK being diagnosed with anxiety is at an all-time high.
In ordinary, everyday situations it is reasonable and some might even say good to be anxious, it can after all help us perform better. Even feelings of fear have a purpose, they are designed to help us survive scary situations we might encounter.
Back in the “good old days”, this made us quicker to respond to the threat of being eaten alive; forcing us to run, hide or for those who are a bit more courageous, throw a stone… (and then leg it!)
This response is known as the ‘fight-or-flight’ response which causes the heart to speed up, hyperventilation (getting more oxygen) and increased blood flow to the muscles.
We all get a bit nervous if we have to speak in front of a large group of people, right? Or if we have to meet someone for the first time? This is totally normal.
There are countless ordinary situations such as this that cause people who suffer from social anxiety to get cripplingly anxious and experience the fight-or-flight response which can be really disabling to their everyday lives. Social anxiety, simply put, is the fear of social situations.
Living with social anxiety can be frustrating and as with many things, change doesn’t happen overnight. You might feel like your mind has an ability to instantly jump a million steps into the worst-case scenario! Some of the signs of social anxiety are:
Finding yourself worrying about other people’s reactions
Experiencing extreme nervousness and anxiousness when taking part in social situations
Feeling really insecure about everything you say and do in social situations
Feeling overly judged
Avoiding social situations all-together
Experiencing physical effects on your body during social situations such as sweating, increased heart rate, or rapid breathing.
Avoiding eye contact
If you think you might have social anxiety, we would always recommend seeking a professional diagnosis from your GP.
Most importantly, remember that however isolated you might feel you are far from alone – social anxiety is the most common type of anxiety in the UK.
7 tips for overcoming social anxiety
Hiding or suppressing anxiety actually produces more anxiety. The most useful step is to share your experience with friends and family, or even talk about them online to us or someone else that you trust. Many people often feel ashamed of their anxiety and can be incredibly reluctant to share it.
The media often leads people to believe that mental illness is a weakness, which makes people less likely to admit to themselves and others what they are going through. We all have mental health and it is reported that up to 1 in 3 of us, will at some point experience a mental health illness and it’s okay to talk about it.
Your body is powerful. Learning the warning signs of when your anxiety flares up is important to help you take action; for some, this could be your body feeling tense and your mind feeling chaotic. Your body and especially your lungs can help.
Breathing exercises can help you control your anxiety. Having a steady breath has a direct impact on your heart rate and, in turn, your thoughts. Your heart will slow down as your breath does and as your breathing and your heart rate slow down your mind and thoughts will too.
3. Thinking isn’t reality
As much as it feels like anxiety controls you, anxiety isn’t reality and you control your own reality. It’s important to remember that social anxiety feeds on thoughts that emphasise danger and negativity. Symptoms such as a fast heartbeat and sweating emerge from this kind of thinking.
Luckily thinking is a habit and can, of course, be changed. The cure isn’t just positive thinking but realistic thinking. Try and examine your anxious thoughts such as ‘I am going to say something stupid’ they are often exaggerations of reality. Then try and produce thoughts that criticise and correct them.
4. Shift your attention
Anxiety has a way of grabbing your attention and turning it inward upon yourself, making you not only self-critical but suddenly noticing how your heartbeat has rapidly increased without your permission, meanwhile, you then suddenly feel yourself getting hotter, red in the face… sweaty… it feels like a domino effect that cannot be interrupted.
But instead, try and focus your attention on what it is you may be doing, so if you are speaking to someone try and pay close attention to what they are saying rather than worrying about what the right thing is to say next.
5. Face your fears
Avoiding social situations, yes will make you feel better at that particular moment. But remember this is only a short-term solution which prevents you from learning how to cope and will make you avoid social situations in the future more. As out of reach as it might seem, facing your fears in small steps you will allow you to work towards the more challenging situations and will give you coping skills.
If meeting new people makes you feel anxious you can begin by going to a party with a friend. You can then take the following step of introducing yourself to a new person. Remember, saying no will give you the same result each time. Saying yes, however frightening, means you’re taking a chance and living your life.
6. Stop trying to be perfect
It’s easy to forget that no one is perfect when we live in a world that aspires to achieve perfection. It’s also easy to forget that not everyone will like us nor does everyone need to.
Ask yourself do YOU like everyone (slim chances)? It’s also often forgotten that it’s okay to make mistakes as it makes us human.
7. Play the Rejection Game
The purpose of the game is to gain some sort of rejection through a series of different challenges. The purpose of the game is to encourage you to see rejection differently and to face your fears whilst maintaining a certain element of control over the situation.
Ask somebody you don’t usually speak to at school for the time
Put your hand up in class to answer a question
Give somebody a compliment
Strike up a conversation with somebody outside of your friendship circle
Ask for a discount at the checkout
Ask somebody to take a photo of you
Ask your strictest teacher for an extension on your homework, even if you don’t need one
Reach out to an old friend and ask if you can make up
Ask to go to the front of a queue
Fundraise for a charity (*cough* we’re a charity *cough*) and ask people you know to sponsor you
Go to a restaurant and ask for a tour of the kitchen
Request a refill on a meal you’ve just eaten
Dance in public.
Don’t forget that there is always support available – whether you decide to access it online or offline. Please get in touch if you have any questions or would like to speak to somebody about social anxiety and/or bullying. Join our community to start a conversation about anxiety with others who have similar experiences…
Take a moment to think about a time when you were really angry.
What was happening in your body? Maybe your face felt hot? Or your palms started sweating?
When we feel an emotion, it’s not just happening in our head – our whole body experiences it.
Our mind is constantly in communication with our body. Together, they are sharing information about whether we are safe, or in danger. If our mind senses a threat, it can start a stress response which you may have heard of…
It’s called Fight, Flight or Freeze.
As soon as our brain sense threat, it floods us with hormones to make us do one of three things:
Fight the danger
Flee (run away from) the danger
Freeze on the spot, so we don’t draw attention to ourselves
If our brain decides we need to fight the threat, our heart rate increases and our blood pressure rises. This ensures that our muscles have a good blood supply.
Our muscles tense, our face flushes, and we speak more loudly – a way to intimidate the danger and alert it to the fact that we’re ready to fight.
In prehistoric times, this gave us the best chance of escaping from serious danger, and it has been our body’s natural response for the whole of human history.
How Do I Stop Myself From Getting Angry?
Stopping ourselves from getting angry can be a pretty difficult task, especially if we feel like the situation is asking for us to respond that way. But often, we can overreact to things, or what might be small appears larger, and we can get angry for little reason. It’s then what we do when we are angry that can have big consequences for us and those around us.
Here are some super fast top tips to calm down:
Pause, and breathe
Go for a walk or remove yourself from the situation
Take it out on a cushion if you feel you have to
Channel your energy into something constructive – do some exercise, write in a journal, do something creative that will help you take your mind off the situation
Comparing ourselves to the people around us is totally normal. It can even be helpful, because it helps us work out who we are and what we’re good at. But unfortunately, we’re surrounded by unrealistic examples of what our lives ‘should’ be like, which is especially true on social media.
Social media has invented a new way for us to compare ourselves to other people. We see people posting about the best bits of their lives and we forget that they don’t share all the bad bits too.
This can all add up and make us feel like we’re not good enough and companies take advantage of this, making lots of money selling products to make us ‘look better’, ‘be stronger’, ‘fit in’… but, ya know, always stand out and be yourself as well.
But, did you know…?
It only takes two weeks to change your self-esteem. So even if you feel like you’re not good enough compared to the people around you, there are some simple steps that you can take to build up your confidence. Before you know it, you’ll stop comparing yourself to the people around you and start to embrace the fact that you are the best person out there at being you.
8 Things That Will Make You Feel More Secure In Yourself
Use your strengths
The VIA Character Strengths are 24 strengths that all of us have in different combinations, and each of us is strongest in different areas.
No-one can be good at everything and that’s OK. So instead of focusing on where we’re weakest, we should remember all the things we are great at!
The best way to boost your self-esteem is to find ways to use your natural strengths to help the people around us. It feels really rewarding and fulfilling to be the best person we can be.
Acknowledge your thoughts
When you find yourself thinking negatively about yourself, notice it and recognise what you’re doing, and what your brain is saying. Instead of trying to ignore the thoughts – say hi to them, and realise they’re there.
Pull the brakes
When you experience negative self-talk – literally say the word STOP out loud to yourself. This interrupts the negative stream of thought.
Flip the negatives
Reframe the negative thoughts so that they focus on the positive instead.
Find the full half of the glass.
Step away from social media
Take some time away from your social feeds, and give your comparing brain a rest.
Unfollow anyone who you compare against
When/if you do go back online, make sure you’re only following people who make you feel good.
Be your own best friend
Next time your negative voices kick in, reply as if you were talking to your best friend.
Tell yourself positive statements which challenge your negative beliefs.
Think of three negative things that you believe about yourself and then flip them around so that they become positive statements. These flipped beliefs are called affirmations.
If you can’t think of any negative beliefs, think of three things that you want for yourself, for example “I want to get a distinction in my piano exam”, and turn them into ‘I am’ statements: “I am going to get a distinction in my piano exam.’
Every time you brush your teeth, or when you get a spare moment, silently repeat the affirmations to yourself.
We’ve all felt stressed before. Exams, money worries, family issues, friend drama. Whatever negatively impacts your life is sure to bring with it some stress. But what actually is it? And what does it actually do to us?
Stress is a state of emotional tension that we experience when our brain thinks that we are under threat. It developed as a very useful feature which helped us to run away from predators, and other immediate dangers. When our brain senses that it’s under threat, it instructs our body to release several hormones, including one called cortisol.
The hormone cortisol has several key roles in preparing us for danger:
It affects our immune system, preparing us for injury
Makes us hyper aware of potential threats
Increases glucose levels in our blood, so that we have the energy to run
Suppresses our digestive system, because if we’re under threat we don’t need to be worrying about eating
Increases our blood pressure, so that we get blood to our muscles more quickly
Reduces our sensitivity to pain, in case we are injured.
All of these effects are very useful in short-term emergency situations
The problem now, is that our modern society is filled with lots of things that make our brain feel threatened, or under attack. These small things can add up, making us feel stressed
We are all unique, so each of us can tolerate a different level of stress before it gets overwhelming. Some people can “fill up” more quickly than others, meaning they get stressed more easily, and that’s OK.
Whatever your capacity, whether you’re a tiny teacup or a massive mug, even the small things can add up until they overflow. This can make us feel overwhelmed and out of control.
The good news is there are lots of ways we can reduce our cortisol levels, and show our brains that we are not under threat. The key thing is that dealing with stress requires an active response.
CONNECT WITH NATURE
Whether it’s cycling through the woods, sitting on the beach, or hiking in the hills – being in nature automatically soothes our brain and helps us to relax.
If you can’t get outside, even listening to nature sounds can help you to de-stress.
If you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, tell someone about it. You don’t have to carry stress by yourself – and sometimes just speaking about it can help us feel more in control. A problem shared is a problem halved.
SAVOUR THE MOMENT
Rather than focusing on the stressful times, we can unwind by focusing on the good moments in our lives. Next time something good happens to you, stop and really enjoy it – taking in all the details about what it feels like.
PUT IT IN PERSPECTIVE
If you find yourself feeling stressed about something, ask yourself –
“How much will this matter tomorrow?”
“How much will this matter next week?”
“How much will this matter next year?”
WRITE A TO-DO LIST
Sometimes we can feel like we don’t have enough time in the day, and this can make us feel stressed. By writing a to-do list, or a schedule, we can allocate time to work, socialise and relax, giving us more balance and control.
Think of as many different solutions to the problem as you can, or look at it from as many points of view as you can. Challenge yourself, to see how many you can come up with.
According to our latest research, 1 in 2 people have experienced bullying in some form in the last 12-months. And trust us when we say, we know how difficult it can be to go through it, especially if you don’t fully understand the psychology of bullying.
In this article, we will be exploring the reasons why people bully, using the latest research and psychology to give you a greater understanding of the motives of those who are either bullying you right now or who have done so in the past.
You may have assumed that you get bullied for whatever makes you different or unique, for example: your race, religion, culture, sexual or gender identity, line of work, fashion sense or weight. By the end of this article, you will know that this is not the case at all.
If you want to talk about it – join our community today to start a conversation about bullying and speak to our amazing digital mentors who can help you anonymously without judgement.
The Psychology of Being Bullied
We will explore the reasons why later on in this article, but most frequently, those who bully others are looking to gain a feeling of power, purpose and control over you.
The easiest way of doing this is to focus on something that is unique about you – either preying on or creating new insecurity with an intent to hurt you either physically or emotionally.
What happens is, we, as the people experiencing bullying, start to internalise it and we become self-critical. We want to understand the reasons why we are being targeted and we start to blame ourselves.
As a result, we try to change or mask that unique characteristic in order to avoid the bullying. We dye our hair, bleach our skin, date people we aren’t interested in and cover up our bodies like they are something to be ashamed of.
It starts to affect our behaviour and the ways in which we see ourselves, which in turn, can go on to impact both our mental and physical health.
The way we see bullying is all wrong. It isn’t because we are different in some way.
The Real Reasons Why People Bully Others
In a recent Ditch the Label study, we spoke to 7,347 people about bullying. We asked respondents to define bullying and then later asked if, based on their own definition, they had ever bullied anybody. 14% of our overall sample, so that’s 1,239 people, said yes. What we then did was something that had never been done on this scale before; we asked them intimate questions about their lives, exploring things like stress and trauma, home lives, relationships and how they feel about themselves.
In fact, we asked all 7,347 respondents the same questions and then compared the answers from those who had never bullied, those who had bullied at least once and those who bully others daily. This then gave us very strong, scientific and factual data to identify the real reasons why people bully others.
It also scientifically proves that the reason people get bullied is never, contrary to popular belief, because of the unique characteristics of the person experiencing the bullying. So, why do people bully?
Stress and Trauma:
Our data shows that those who bully are far more likely than average to have experienced a stressful or traumatic situation in the past 5 years. Examples include their parents/guardians splitting up, the death of a relative or the gaining of a little brother or sister.
It makes sense because we all respond to stress in very different ways. Some of us use positive behaviours, such as meditation, exercise and talking therapy – all designed to relieve the stress.
Others use negative behaviours such as bullying, violence and alcohol abuse, which temporarily mask the issues but usually make them worse in the long-term.
The research shows that some people simply do not know how to positively respond to stress and so default to bullying others as a coping mechanism.
66% of the people who had admitted to bullying somebody else were male. Take a minute to think about how guys are raised in our culture and compare that to the ways in which girls are raised. The moment a guy starts to show any sign of emotion, he’s told to man up and to stop being a girl.
For girls, it’s encouraged that they speak up about issues that affect them.
For guys, it’s discouraged and so they start to respond with aggressive behaviours, such as bullying, as a way of coping with issues that affect them. This is why guys are more likely than girls to physically attack somebody or to commit crimes. It isn’t something they are born with, it’s a learned behaviour that is actively taught by society using dysfunctional gender norms and roles.
In order to mask how they actually feel about themselves, some people who bully focus attention on someone else. They try to avoid any negative attention directed at them by deflecting. But know they might look in the mirror at home and hate the way they look.
There is so much pressure to live up to beauty and fitness standards that we are taught to compare ourselves to others, instead of embracing our own beauty.
They’ve Been Bullied:
Our research shows that those who have experienced bullying are twice as likely to go on and bully others. Maybe they were bullied as kids in the past, or maybe they are being bullied now.
Often it’s used as a defence mechanism and people tend to believe that by bullying others, they will become immune to being bullied themselves. In fact, it just becomes a vicious cycle of negative behaviours.
Difficult Home Life:
1 in 3 of those who bully people daily told us that they feel like their parents/guardians don’t have enough time to spend with them. They are more likely to come from larger families and are more likely to live with people other than their biological parents.
There are often feelings of rejection from the very people who should love them unconditionally. They are also much more likely to come from violent households with lots of arguments and hostility.
Low Access to Education:
Without access to education, hate-based conversation directed at others may be the norm. They may not understand what hate speech is and why speaking about people in a derogatory way is not appropriate.
Finally, those who bully are more likely to feel like their friendships and family relationships aren’t very secure. In order to keep friendships, they might be pressured by their peers to behave in a certain way.
They are more likely to feel like those who are closest to them make them do things that they don’t feel comfortable doing and aren’t very supportive or loving.
So there you have it, some of the most common reasons why people bully others.
If you are being bullied, it’s time to put the knowledge to the test. Carry on reading with our article on overcoming bullying. If you are doing the bullying, here are 7 things that you can do to overcome it.
If you are looking for more help – our community is a safe space to discuss your issues and get support from trained digital mentors who will help you without judgement.
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