People

Matt Haig has a message for us all on the power of anger and crying

Posted by
Anna Brech
Published
backgroundLayer 1
Add this article to your list of favourites
decision making

Coronavirus doesn’t always call for stoicism: sometimes anger can be productive, too, as mental health activist Matt Haig is keen to highlight.

Maybe there’s something particularly British in the need to keep calm and carry on. Even in the midst of the most severe health pandemic known to a modern generation, there’s an unwritten sense that we should somehow get it together and stay positive. 

There are, of course, lots of benefits to having a positive mindset. But it’s not the only device you can reach for in your mental toolkit, as the coronavirus crisis continues to strengthen its grip.

You may also like

Helen McCrory randomly bursting into tears under lockdown is all of us right now

Mental health campaigner and author Matt Haig is here to remind us that so-called “negative” emotions can also have their place as coping mechanisms. 

In a new post on Instagram, Haig – who wrote the bestselling memoir Reasons To Stay Alive – calls attention to the unsung power of crying, swearing and rage.

Haig’s summary on the cathartic benefits of tears and anger has grounding in science.  In one study, US biochemist and “tear expert” Dr. William Frey found that emotional tears contain stress hormones that are pushed out of the body via the act of crying. 

Crying may also play an important regulatory role, helping us to better handle emotions and stress (hence the expression, “letting it all out”).

You may also like

4 women on how they learned to harness the power of female anger

Research indicates that angry energy can also be useful in certain scenarios. While suppressing anger increases the intensity of pain, expressing it may actually reduce stress levels as a result of confronting a problem head-on.

As Haig says, anger is a motivating force, too, in part because of the perception by angry people that they are moving towards a resolution to a certain situation or issue. 

 Meanwhile, even good old swearing has its virtues: science suggests it helps us to withstand pain for longer,  and can even engender trust in team relationships. 

Author and mental health campaigner Matt Haig
Matt Haig says anger and tears can be productive.

All this is not to say you should spend the rest of lockdown turning the air blue in a non-stop fit of rage and crying (although that’s OK if you do).

But merely, there’s no need to feel like you have to “be” a certain way. Negative emotions are just as valid as the positive ones, and you should welcome both together right now – as another mental health expert, cognitive therapist Alyssa Mancao, points out.

You may also like

Belief, love, work: three pillars of a happy life to rethink under lockdown

Coronavirus is not a great leveller, and nor will we “fight” it simply through fortitude and strength; despite the strange language that has been bandied about by certain politicians in recent weeks. 

A stoic, gung-ho attitude won’t get us through the pandemic, no matter how often we’re exposed to this line of thought. In fact, it is more likely to make us feel alienated from those we feel *are* coping OK. 

The reality is, we all have good days and bad days. There are some extraordinary acts of kindness unfolding at the moment, but there are also reasons to be angry and tearful. If the latter happens to hit you, go ahead and let loose: you’ll feel all the better for it. 

Image: Getty

Topics

Share this article

Author

Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for stylist.co.uk. Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.

Recommended by Anna Brech

Life

Coronavirus anxiety: cognitive therapist says one word can help ease your feelings

Use it to reframe how you feel about yourself and the world at large.

Posted by
Anna Brech
Published
Life

“Why am I so tearful?” How to avoid emotional exhaustion during the pandemic

Feeling overwhelmed by the rise in coronavirus cases? You’re not alone.

Posted by
Lauren Geall
Published
Life

3 healthy coping mechanisms to help you deal with coronavirus anxiety

Keep your anxiety under control with these helpful expert tips.

Posted by
Lauren Geall
Published
People

Matt Haig has this message for people suggesting he “beat” mental health problems to be successful

“You can have issues and do stuff.”

Posted by
Lauren Geall
Published
Life

How to take care of your mental health during the coronavirus lockdown

Because the world is a scary place to be at the moment.

Posted by
Lauren Geall
Published