The Rage Roller Coaster: Exploring Our Emotional Well-being

Imagine you are in class, scribbling furiously on the scantron for an exam you studied hours for. Turning your head, you notice that the person sitting next to you has been cheating off of you. Annoyed, you turn away to cover your answers but most of the test has already been completed. The next day, your teacher tells you that you are both being blamed for it. How would you react? How angry would you be? Unless you’ve experienced a situation like this, it’s hard to know.

As humans, each and every one of us deals with our emotions differently. We each choose different ways to let off steam. The most important question to consider here is: how healthy is having anger and how healthily are we dealing with it?

Sophomore Ishani Singh recognizes that she is a generally emotional person and feels that she understands and knows what angers her and how to manage it. She is also open about her emotions and tries not to bottle them up.

However, when posed with the cheating scenario, Singh found that for her it would be an extremely difficult position to be in and deal with.

“Honestly something like that would cause me to like breakdown in tears,” Singh said. “I’m really terrible and holding that kind of burdening emotion in.”

For Singh, such a situation would cause her an extreme emotional reaction. For others, their reactions may be less severe, but still emotionally damaging. If you ask MVHS students what the main problem is at MVHS, they’d most likely say stress and not anger issues or emotional health. However, emotional health is also important to uphold, and it is a common byproduct to our everyday stress. As an example, say you are stressed about a huge project and the night before it’s due, another teacher enters in a math test in schoolloop that you failed. Whether it’s because you’re tired and it’s late or because you’re disappointed about the test – it doesn’t matter. The pure negativity of the situation upsets you, therefore lowering your emotional health.

It is important to maintain a focus on your emotional health so that you can keep it in control in difficult emotional situations. According to familydoctor.org, emotional health is defined as awareness of one’s emotions and also knowing how to deal with them. They describe emotionally healthy people as those who can “bounce back from setbacks and keep problems in perspective.”

Both in the future and the present, focusing on emotional health is something we must always keep in mind. Research has proven that controlling emotions leads to happier and more stable lives. But at MVHS, as a student body, we all still become angry with things: and that’s just part of the regular human reaction. According to a survey of MVHS students, 71.4% believe they are easily irritated and classify themselves as an angry person. This essentially means that a great majority of the student body becomes irritated or angry. While the source of irritation differs for everyone, this statistic shows the importance of learning about emotional health. Even if you don’t feel like you’re angry, there’s a good chance that someone around you might be.

Infographic by Sangita Kunapuli.
Infographic by Sangita Kunapuli.

According to an article written by Mayo Clinic, anger is an emotion that we experience and is one of our natural responses to threats. In the body, the presence of anger releases adrenaline, increases heart rate and blood pressure and causes one’s skin to flush. However, it’s important to remember that being angry is not a bad thing. Contrary to popular belief, it actually has a number of positive effects like motivating positive change and sharing important concerns.

Still, dealing with anger is necessary so it doesn’t overtake you. For Singh, she finds that she has learned different ways to deal with her anger and frustration. For example, before she falls asleep, she reflects on her day and the emotions she felt. This is actually good; it’s extremely important to have an outlet of some sort or a way that allows one to open up and release their emotions. Failing to do so could have numerous detrimental effects including anxiety, depression and diseases, to name a few.

Another way Singh deals with her emotions is by using advice she received from one of her teachers, Ms. Stolhand.

“I heard from Ms. Stolhand last year that the best way to deal with pent up frustration is to either laugh or cry and get it out of your system,” Singh said. “Yes, I do go to friends with my problems but the only way I can actually confront the emotion is by laughing or crying it out.”

If you have a person with an active and open communication link, you’re one step closer to being emotionally healthy. In fact, according to a psychology study conducted by UCLA, when someone talks about their emotions or labels what they are feeling, it lessens the impact and anxiety in their brain. The amygdala, or the center for emotional behavior, is extremely active when you feel a strong emotion. However, when that emotion is verbalized, the activity of the amygdala decreases and the brain relaxes: which inadvertently creates benefits towards one’s emotional health.

We all experience mood swings at one point or another. Typically the stereotype falls on women – people tend to think that women are more emotional and have more mood swings. The reverse stereotype is thought of as true for men as well: “REAL men never cry” and “Men don’t really have emotions.” This is not accurate, for we are all humans and we all experience emotions differently. Singh is unique in the way that she is very clear about the emotions she is experiencing.

“I understand that I should control my feelings and not the other way around,” Singh said. “[But] if I’m angry, I’m not the kind of person who can subdue it in front of others for the sake of politeness. How I feel is always written on my face.”

Singh is one of the few who does not hide her emotions. Of the surveyed MVHS students, 84.4% admitted to masking their emotions in front of others, specifically during class time and in front of teachers. Students view school as a place where they solely go to learn, and oftentimes, they feel uncomfortable reaching out to teachers for their emotional needs because they want to maintain a regular teacher-student relationship. However, revealing your emotions to those around you, especially teachers, can go a long way in improving your emotional health.

There are many factors that go into anyone’s reaction to a situation. Take the cheating situation again – it’s a less-than-ideal place to find yourself in, no doubt, and your first instinct might be to scream and yell at the teacher. But just think to yourself, reason in your head and see the bigger picture. Talk about it with other people: your friends and family. Cool off and think about it from a different perspective. There’s always another way to handle the situation to maintain your emotional health.