Expressing negative feelings offloads stress, but if you only express one feeling—say, anger—it turns into hostility, adding to your stress. Strong negative feelings turn to productive stress dousers when you allow them to flow: first expressing anger and then sadness, fear and guilt.
The Tool: You can clear away stress by expressing four feelings. Start with anger by saying: "I feel angry that...." Then, pause and allow your emotional brain do the work, sending to consciousness what you are stressed about. Continue completing the sentences with the first thing that comes to mind: "I feel sad that... I feel afraid that... I feel guilty that..." Often, the words don't make sense, but that doesn't matter. It clears away the stress: "I feel angry that my stomach hurts. I feel sad that I am alone. I feel afraid that I am a bad person. I feel guilty that I haven't paid the bills." What happens next? The positive emotions start flowing!
Next: Love your survival circuits