Is yelling a natural response to our frustrations or other’s errors?
This morning I saw a dad yell at his teenage son because the boy’s attitude irritated him. Within seconds both of their faces soured under rage from this man’s scream. More important is what occurred behind mental scenes, based on new neural facts about yelling-generated-stress.
We all lose patience at times. And who hasn’t howled a time or two? But what if barking busts open the very solution we’re after, by hamstringing our mental flow from the heated experience?
The dad’s angry yells diminished his teen by tossing in ire, opening both their minds and relationship to dangerous toxins. Their brains on cortisol, for instance, literally shut down, so that no learning can occur and both brains flooded with dangerous stress chemicals.
Toxins that arise in such an angry situation can impact entire groups, holding us all hostage to hostility long before we realize the stress problem that hit us. Our brains may even rewire to fail us further beyond this angry situation. Yield to worry because of angry outbursts – and we open windows to stress hormones that may even appear as savior but often strike as killer.
We can certainly learn to make healthier choices to upgrade our moods in angry situations, but it takes about 25 minutes to turn cortisol back and replenish the brain’s well-being serotonin chemicals.
Out of Sorts?
Let’s say feel anxious, or fearful because of another’s angry outburst. We may worry about losing a family member’s love, or about losing an opportunity we’d looked forward to. That stress that fills the brain with cortisol stops us from taking necessary risks to mitigate the fear we feel.
Angry outbursts stir up dangerous chemical hormones in our brain so that we can regress in our relationship, courage, solutions, and general well-being.
Shrinking our Brains
Cortisol’s potent chemical that surges in rage is now recognized as a drug that literally shrinks our brains. It leaves other damaging footprints behind too, that luckily can be avoided through awareness of its trickery. Researchers have known for some time, for instance, that cortisol shuts down learning, creates anxiety attacks and can cause debilitating depression.
Less known, until recently, are tactics to counter cortisol surges.
You may be saying … but cortisol has useful purposes, and you are correct. It’s a short term chemical which is useful to treat allergies, or zap us with the energy to survive a shocking moment. Cortisol can also lower sensitivity to pain, help us survive grief, or pull us through a short term pressure project.
Practical Tasks for Stress-Free Learning
Imagine a kindness that permeates places we gather, where stress rarely surfaces, and where people’s laughter livens all lessons learned, even when we misstep!
Stress’ Long-term Effects
Long-term cortisol surges though, where you maintain harmful levels, can be highly dangerous. Research shows cortisol to:
1. Lower immune systems
2. Slow down thinking
3. Create blood sugar imbalances
4. Raise your blood pressure
5. Weaken muscle tissue
6. Decrease bone density
7. Increase fat to stomach areas.
Can you see why you may react negatively when under the influence of harmful chemical surges?
Escape Daily Does of Cortisol
To flee from or lower dangerous levels of cortisol, after we face anger in any of its toxic forms:
a. Relax, listen to music, take
a walk, and run from stress.
b. Spend time with upbeat people, laugh, and steer away from cynics.
c. Manage time, create doable daily targets, and avoid overloads
d. Take up a sport, do stairs, park far from doors and avoid passivity.
e. Give away things, care, join Rotary, and run from financial anxiety.
f. Teach from your strengths, inspire excellence, yet flee perfectionism.
g. Propose winning solutions and avoid fixation on problems at work.
You get the idea, and will likely have better alternatives than mine, to sidestep cortisol’s confinement. Strange as it may seem, the key is to do the opposite of whatever creates cortisol. To do the opposite of a cortisol response, is to rewire the brain for more serotonin guided behaviors.
22 Stressors Come on Ordinary Day
People who deal with stress remind us how to take control of that “out of sorts feeling” and how to avoid the kind of cortisol an angry colleague might bring…. We’re told that on average 22 stressors hit us daily. Wonder what these 22 might look like today?
In each stressor below – your responses work for or against your brain:
1. The alarm goes off when you are in the deepest part of sleep and long before you are ready to rise.
2. You bulge over the waistline of your favorite slacks and don’t have time to change.
3. Your significant other is lively and cheerful while you feel like quiet and even a bit of gloom.
4. A friend or family member yells at a mistake you made and shames you in front of people you care about.
5. Roadwork keeps you waiting past the point where you can stop into Starbucks for your favorite breakfast drink and everybody around you seems cranky as a result.
6. No parking spot exists near your building, and you have five minutes to make it in through the rain.
7. You worked all morning on a computer project -then lost your file before it saved, and experts assure you it’s gone for good.
8. A leader wants to know why a top player quit and what you are doing to help while you see the problem as the leader’s poor tone skills.
9. You left your project home – and after you’d reminded your team to come prepared
10. The air conditioner broke and you wore a warm suit jacket that cannot be removed.
11. Your friend is sick and forgot to tell you about a cancelled adventure together.
12. The person you dislike most just walked by with your best friend and ignored you.
13. You forgot your lunch and there is no break to get out to get one.
14. Four negative stories come back from colleagues and all were relayed as anonymous
15. The phone rings more than usual and interrupts the project you promised to complete by the end of the day
16. Your allergies go crazy because the guy down the hall brought his dog over and set them off – the one day you don’t have meds with you
17. The person who asks you a favor, often complains to others about you, according to peers – but he is all smiles and warm words when he wants something
18. The family calls to tell you with regret, why they’ll not be attending your special event.
19. The guy next door plays a jazz station outside all day, and you hate jazz but can’t find words to tell him
20. You were in charge of refreshments today, and you forgot them on the kitchen table.
21. The person who chews gum loudly and talks endlessly on the phone, tells a bad joke – one that you’ve heard many times –and that still isn’t funny
22. You head home – knowing there will be no dinner prepared until late tonight.
Whew, 22 stressors! What a tough challenge packed into one day, and we are said to have that many again tomorrow. Do you see propensity for cortisol?
We can learn to respond with serotonin that buffers us against an ability to see grace and feel calm in response to others’ anger or stressful actions. Kindness to ourselves first, and then to those who cause stressors can block cortisol in ways that mitigate angry, stressful or anxious retorts.
Do you have a unique strategy that works well when stressors such as an angry outburst strikes on a busy day, or when you least expect its toxic barbs?
Below are 100 writing prompts that initiate peaceful possibilities in the face of pesky problems we face daily.
YOUR TURN! Join our Brain Based Circles! Would love to meet you at any of the following to hear how you feel about shouts to make a point!
Lead Innovation with the Brain in Mind – GUIDE Created by Ellen Weber, Brain Based Tasks for Growth Mindset