Stress & Anger Management

Instructor: Karin Gonzalez

Karin has taught middle and high school Health and has a master's degree in social work.

Negative stress can actually lead to anger. This is why many anger management techniques are also stress management methods. Learn about positive versus negative stress, the definition of anger, and stress and anger management techniques in this lesson.

Relationship Between Stress and Anger

Adam is stressed about his final exam in science next Friday so he decides to start studying today. Adam's stress is known as eustress, because it is positive in that it encourages productivity and higher achievement. Contrarily, there is a negative and unhealthy stress, called distress. Distress increases a hormone called cortisol in the body, which increases blood sugar levels and decreases functioning of the immune, reproductive and digestive systems. When someone is distressed, they are more irritable and inclined to get irritated, annoyed and angry.

Anger is an emotion defined by a feeling of displeasure and irritation. Imagine that Adam overslept the morning of his final exam. Due to his distress of being late, Adam is more inclined to get frustrated, aggravated and angry at traffic on the way to school.

Because distress heightens anger (and a reduction of stress can also reduce anger), many anger management techniques are also stress management techniques. We will be reviewing these techniques in this lesson.

Stress and Anger Management

Stress can be defined as a feeling of pressure, mental strain and worry. It is often brought on by concern about a future event. Stress management involves calming the mind and body. Practicing stress management techniques for anger can be helpful in allowing a person to calm down before responding to an anger-inducing situation. This is due to the fact that intense anger causes a person to be overly emotional and irrational. Calming down helps a person regain rationality and respond to the infuriating situation in a smart, relaxed manner.

Here are some stress and anger management techniques:

Exercise

Humans were meant to move every day. Exercise helps release endorphins, also known as happy hormones. The runner's high is an example of endorphins at work.

Exercise could be helpful in anger management because it gives a person time to think about what they rationally want to do in response to an anger-inducing situation. Further, exercise can sometimes act as an active form of meditation as it allows a person to forget about any other thought and just focus on exercise. Yoga is a relaxing form of exercise that focuses on the breath, stopping thoughts, and deep stretching of the muscles.

Meditation

Meditation is becoming increasingly popular. It involves sitting in a relaxed position, closing the eyes, and focusing on the breath. The goal of meditation is to abandon all thoughts. Some practice guided imagery during meditation, which is listening to a speaker or video describe a relaxing location, like a beach or in the mountains, so the person feels like they are actually there.

Many monks have perfected the art of meditation and practice it on a daily basis.
Image of monk meditating

Counting to 10, 20, 30....

Counting in one's head is a helpful distraction and relaxation technique that helps prevent an angry person from acting when they are angry. Some find counting backwards (or reciting the alphabet backwards) more challenging, and therefore more distracting, than counting forwards.

Deep Breathing

There is something about fresh air and oxygen flowing to one's brain that has a calming effect. Deep breathing involves complete focus on the breath. A person can breathe in their nose for a long count of five and then out their nose or mouth for another count of five while thinking about the air that is flowing in and out of their body. There are many techniques in deep breathing, but some involve feeling one's chest fill with air, watching the chest rise and fall, and imagining the air coming and leaving the body.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness requires being completely present in the current moment, focusing on the way a person's body feels and using all five senses. Some people try to be mindful in their lives as much as possible and find that it makes a huge impact on their stress level and mood.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

This involves the singling out and tensing of each muscle in the body, working one's way up from their toes to their facial muscles. Some people do this sitting or lying on the ground, but it is another form of relaxation that could also be an anger management technique.

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