How to Manage Anger and Stress

angry woman with crossed arms sitting on couch

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Anger management and stress management work in similar ways. One reason for this is because anger and stress both have a psychological component so they can be managed psychologically. Both emotions can affect us in very negative ways, mainly if left unmanaged, and that it is why it is essential to understand their relationship.

Prolonged exposure to anger and stress can take a toll on our physical health. It can raise our blood pressure which instigates other issues that affect us physically and emotionally. It can negatively impact our relationships as well. Beyond that, we can also develop negative habits as a response to excessive levels of anger and stress that become more difficult to control over time. Either of these effects can result in more anxiety.

In order to begin managing the adverse effects of stress and anger, we need to look at how these emotions impact our lives. Stress can lead to anger which can lead to even more stress. Neither feeling is healthy, but we shouldn't try to eliminate them. Instead, we should attempt to control them by learning positive coping strategies.

Perception Affects Anger and Stress

Certain events can trigger anger or stress in many people. The degree of anger or stress experienced has to do with how a person perceives and interprets what is happening to them.

For example, two people can be cut off in traffic. One person might interpret the gesture as a lack of respect, a threat to their physical safety or as a hostile gesture. This situation makes them angry. Another person may figure that the offending driver didn't see them or might be wrapped up in their own thoughts, and let the event roll off their back.

In both cases, there was a stimulus, a belief, and a response. The view, or interpretation, of the stimulus, is what led to the different reactions.

Some People Are More Prone to Anger and Stress

Some people have inborn personality traits that make them more susceptible to anger and stress. Some of these tendencies are seen early in life, but these tendencies can be mitigated.

  • Some people are naturally more observant than others. This trait can make them more likely to notice things that might make them angry—things that may go unnoticed by someone else.
  • Some people are naturally less comfortable with change, which can also cause stress and anger in certain situations.
  • Other people have a low tolerance for frustration and get angrier more easily than others. 

Attitudes Cause Anger and Stress

Our habitual thought patterns, which can be somewhat altered with practice, contribute to our experience of anger or stress.

Some people tend to interpret things negatively as a matter of habit. They may attribute someone else’s error to malicious or unkind motives, for example. They may take one negative event as a sign that more negative events are to come, which can contribute to anger and stress.

It’s How You Handle Anger and Stress That Matters

Anger and stress are natural experiences. The way we deal with conditions can make the difference between a healthy and unhealthy life.

With stress, for example, we can’t always prevent stressful events from occurring. However, managing stress through breathing exercises, journaling or other stress management techniques, we can learn to neutralize the effects of stress.

We can’t always prevent anger from occurring, but we can work through our anger in healthy ways so it does not become a problem. For example, expressing our feelings in respectful ways when they are still manageable can stop them from snowballing into feelings of being enraged or overwhelmed. The other option is to try and “stuff” anger or express it in negative and unhealthy ways. That is when anger does become a problem.

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