Everybody should have an outlet of some kind. Whether it’s painting, writing, meditation, hitting a punching bag, or swimming a few laps in the pool, everybody should have an outlet — something that releases the energy built-up inside them. When a storm of any kind comes into your life, everybody should know their best way of riding it out.
And earlier this week, I learned what mine is.
My Newest Outlet
I won’t go into too much detail, since the details aren’t important. But earlier last week, I was very frustrated at someone. They promised they would do something for me by a specific date, and they didn’t do it. It got sorted out in the end, but by not doing it when promised, it created totally unnecessary stress and anxiety not just for me, but for both of us.
Now, I get it. They have a busy schedule. And even I have trouble holding myself accountable. When I say I’m going to do something, and the impact it has is only on me, that’s fine. I’m human. I’m fallible. I’m unpredictable. Who isn’t?
Yet it’s a whole different ball game if I say I’m going to do something for somebody else. I learned very early in life that deadlines matter. Punctuality matters. My word, when given to other people, matters.
And as you can probably tell, that stress and anxiety kept building and building and building. To the point where I had to postpone my weekday writing schedule by an hour, because I’d gotten so livid. And even after that, it kept rising three hours after I initially found out what happened, and I had kept thinking about it and thinking about it and thinking about it. I could think of nothing else, even forgetting to shut down my computer once I got up to get some lunch.
Once I ate, my anger hadn’t completely subsided. However, a voice popped into my head.
Let’s go for a run. I know you’re not feeling up to it, ’cause it’s cold and it’s November and all, but let’s just go for a run. Put on your sweats. Put on your shoes. Let’s do it.
I’ve been exercising regularly these past few weeks, because I know it’s something you have to do as a human being in order to stay healthy. Plus, I’m a writer, and from what I hear, sitting is the new smoking. So, might as well do something rather than nothing.
I was due for my daily walk/jog, anyway. But something about that little voice nudging me and getting me out of my angry haze was something I’ll never forget.
Because it worked.
Earbuds blasting video game OSTs in my ears, I got on the treadmill in my sister’s old room, set the speed, and walked. Still kept thinking about said person that didn’t keep their word. Bumped up my pace on the treadmill to a steady, powerful stomp. Still kept thinking about them. Tried singing to get them out of my mind. Bumped up my pace. Started jogging.
And then, finally, peace.
Jaw slack and lungs on autopilot, my mind finally separated from my body. Instead of focusing on my anger, I focused on the steady rhythm of my shoes against the treadmill’s track, my breath leaving me in short, controlled bursts like a well-oiled machine, and my mind being cleansed of the emotional/mental haze that plagued me hours before. It was like I’d been chained to whatever anger I was feeling, and one of the links finally snapped, letting me fly.
All this time, I thought writing and art were my sole outlets for my emotions and my thoughts. I’d known about exercise as a tool to combat stress, but I’d never experienced it that way before. Something in me clicked. Something in me finally let go of the stubborn build-up of anger and emotion that had plagued me most of the day.
And it felt incredible.
Though, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. Humans were built to move. We have eyes in the front of our heads, and that makes us predators, designed to recognize prey that we are supposed to chase down. We are meant to run, dance, play, and use our bodies before our bodies begin to use us.
Perhaps when jogging on that treadmill, I connected not with my primal emotions, but a primordial pleasure when getting any sort of movement. Call it endorphins, if you must.
But I prefer something a little more romantic. “Salvation.” “Peace.” “Balance.”
What about you, dear readers? What’s your preferred outlet? Is it an art? Is it dancing? Is it venting with a friend? Let me know in the comments below, and perhaps, if you are in the midst of an emotional haze, we can all help each other out.