MANAGING STRESS AND ANGER
Developed by Norma Leslie, Ph.D
What do you do when you become stressed and angry?
I think about the violence and dysfunctional families in our country, and wonder why, and what has happened that we have not taught our families, patients and ourselves how to manage stress and anger?
Stress causes a fight or flight response. It causes our heart and respiration rate to increase, blood vessels constrict muscles tense, the immune system is suppressed, and our thoughts become negative and distorted. One reason for uncontrolled anger is stress. Anger is a normal emotion, however, expressing anger can be constructive or destructive.
Stress management begins when you become aware of the stresses, and your reaction to stressful events. Sounds simple, however, it is difficult to change habits and develop new ways to think about your stress. The following are tips to teach yourself and your patients how to manage stress and control anger. Make an effort to teach at least one person how to manage their stress and anger more constructively.
· RELAXATION EXERCISES:
Relax, take a deep breath through your nose, and push the air out through your mouth. As you exhale, push out your abdomen, and say relax. Do this several times a day, and especially when you are feeling stressed.
· DO SOMETHING NICE FOR YOUR SELF
When you are feeling stressed and angry, take an inventory of your needs. Then write a letter to yourself that says Dear----, I need. Make a date with yourself and meet at least one of your needs. Consider a “rest and nest” day. This is your time to rest and do exactly what you heart desires. It is amazing how rejuvenated you will feel. Remember that when you cannot own your needs and feelings, resentment and anger causes you to “teeter on the edge” and your “madness” is then projected onto others.
· CHALLENGE YOUR THINKING
What is producing your anger?
What are your thoughts? Are they rational or irrational?
The front of your brain is your thinking lobe, the middle of your brain is your feeling lobe, and the hind brain is your get mad, fight, compulsive, lobe.
Learn to check out your thinking with your front brain, and soothe down your emotions.
· DISTRACT YOUR THINKING
Think about something else. Walk away from the stimuli.
Ask yourself, Is this about me or is it about the other person? Don’t takes life so personally. There is a life after this encounter—the world is open to you.
Think about something else. Your mind can only process one thought at a time.
· IDENTIFY YOUR EMOTIONS
Do you feel mad, sad, glad or scared? What is an appropriate way to express your feelings?
· IDENTIFY YOUR BEHAVIOR
What are your thoughts and feelings that are prompting you to behave in ways that are not in your best interest? Remember the following acronym. (STAR)
STOP, THINK, ACT AND REVIEW. Make yourself stop and think before you act. After you have acted, review the process. Did you act appropriately and in your best interest? Draw a star, label each point, and use this as a “handout” when your are teaching your patients.
Did you act assertively and not aggressively. Assertiveness is expressing your feelings in a forthright constructive manner, setting limits, and not allowing others to destructively criticize you. Aggressive behavior comes from the hind- brain and causes you to be impulsive and erratic. People, who are secure, act assertively. Those that are insecure act aggressively.
Hurtful words –hurt—Think about it and don’t say it. Instead talk to yourself about your hurt. Can you express yourself more constructively such as “I am feeling angry and I need time by myself. I will talk with you later. Please honor my needs.”
· FORGIVE THE OFFENDER
We usually lack the means or the right to punish the other person.
Is there a reasonable explanation for their behavior.
· LAUGH AT YOURSELF
Add some humor to your life. You are a loveable person.
· Your thoughts effect your feelings and your behavior comes from your feelings and thoughts. And behavior can cause feelings and feelings can cause thoughts.
· Sort it out before you act.
· Inner strength equals gentle behavior.
· Insecurity equals hostility
· Resentment is harmful to yourself and others. Let it go, and you will feel a sense of freedom.
· Ask yourself, Am I acting in my best interest?
· If you are confused, ask for honest feedback from an objective person.