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  1. #1
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    The Link Between Anger and Stress

    The Link Between Anger and Stress
    Buck Black, LCSW
    Mar 15th 2010

    Have you ever looked at the role stress has in anger? Many people say that stress is more prevalent today than 20 years ago. Likewise, others say there is more anger (road rage, workplace violence, and so on). Stress can certainly create a variety of problems. If you are prone to anger, then stress will likely increase your angry behaviors.

    Stress is healthy when controlled. Healthy stress (Eustress) is what gets us out of bed in the morning and makes us pay attention to the details throughout our day. This type of stress does not cause anger or irritability. For those who do not have enough stress in their lives, they are often referred to as ?lazy? or ?unmotivated.?

    Distress, on the other hand, is a type of stress that causes many people to be irritable and sometimes downright angry. This happens when the stress is too much and is no longer a motivator. You can think of this as when there is a combination of stressors and things just keep piling up. One day, the person does not know how to handle this anymore and there is an anger outburst.

    What feeling is behind stress? I have asked the same question about anger in a previous article. When you are feeling either stressed or angry, there is some other feeling that is fueling this. Often, it is being overwhelmed, feeling disrespected, helpless, fearful and so on. It is very important to look at the feelings behind the stress to better understand why you are having this reaction. Once this insight is gained, then steps may be taken to relax and feel much better.

    Once you have identified the feelings and thoughts associated with your stress, take a look at your environment. Do you live in a chaotic home environment or perhaps a have a work environment that is adding your stress? When you identify your environmental stressors, take some time to identify ways to limit these stresses in addition to changing the ways you are thinking.

    Substances that often increase stress and anger:

    • Sugar
    • Caffeine
    • Excess food
    • Nicotine

    Stress and Anger reducers:

    • Exercise
    • Hobbies
    • Learning communication skills
    • Journaling
    • Engaging in social activities
    • Deep breathing, yoga, Qigong

    Here are a few of quick quips for managing stress:

    • If you allow others to make you stressed, you are allowing them to control you. Do you really want others pulling your strings?
    • Look at stress as a test. Do you want to fail that test by getting stressed out?
    • The only person responsible for your stress is you.
    • Stress is energy. Are you going to use this energy for something productive or destructive?
    • Will it matter tomorrow? Next week? Next Month?

  2. #2
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    Re: The Link Between Anger and Stress

    Dealing with this right now myself. One thing I've read is that often anger is the result of fear. That is, fear (feeling psychologically or physically threatened) can cause anger. For me, I think it is a learned behavior from childhood, and the reaction to perceived threats as an adult is almost instantaneous. It is deeply engrained in my psyche.

    TA helps because when I am able to focus on remaining in an adult ego state I am able to avoid the anger trap. Its just that I keep finding situations where I react before I can think about it.

    Anger is a tough nut to crack.

  3. #3
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    Re: The Link Between Anger and Stress

    I just want to add that part of this process (and it is a process - constantly evolving) is accepting that I grew up in an abusive home. My father was an angry and bitter man and my mother lived a delusional life - like an actress playing a role. With denial and one side of me and a hand that could pop me on the head at any time on the other my mind retreated during childhood. I developed imaginary friends and learned to keep to myself to stay out of trouble. Oh, and both my brother and sister could be abusive and frequently were when I was a child.

    What I wanted was a loving and peaceful home where everyone was in the foxhole together - so I imagined it. Yes, there were times when it was like that, but they were frequently spoiled by older siblings who were more comfortable with the familiar chaos of abuse.

    Even at age 58 I still don't want to accept my childhood was like that. My mind fights against it and my mother, who is 92, still lives her role as the wonderful mother, wife and socialite. Her memory is fading, but her powers of denial are not. Sometimes it feels like there is not a real person there ... just a facade and behind the facade is nothing but air - its all vapor and invisible. Of course, my cousins wouldn't believe a thing if I were to tell them. They think it was all wonderful because my parents were so good at putting on airs.

    So I'm left to deal with this on my own. To face the facts about my childhood and somehow learn to take care of myself as an adult.

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