Lesson 9: Coping with Stress and Anger
By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:
- Identify feelings of stress you've felt in the past
- Identify feelings of anger you've felt in the past
- Identify appropriate ways to cope with stress
- Identify appropriate ways to cope with anger
What is stress?
Stress is any force, pressure, or strain put on the body and the body's reaction to it. Because we live and work in an ever-changing environment, everyone experiences stress to some degree.
Watch the video below to learn some tips for coping with stress.
Try creating a list of events, forces, pressure, or strain that create stress in your life. They can include:
- Work demands
- Family demands
- School demands
- A sick loved one
- A new child
- A new job
- The death of a loved one
How do you cope with stress?
There are positive and negative ways to cope with stress. When properly managed, stress can help you complete goals and improve the quality of your life. If improperly managed, stress can lead to excessive fatigue, irritability, anger, depression, and illness.
Examine the way in which you cope with stress. Do you have healthy or unhealthy coping strategies?
Healthy coping strategies include:
Studies have shown that engaging in some form of exercise, such as walking, jogging, swimming, cycling, or aerobic dance, can help reduce anxiety levels. Walking is an easy low-impact activity and a great way to start. To remain active, find something you enjoy. If you're bored, cross-train or try a new sport. Consult your physician before beginning an exercise program. For more information, check out this article from Harvard Health Blog.
- Making personal time for hobbies and self-care
With the demands of work and family, it can be difficult to make time for yourself. However, taking time away to do what you enjoy will help you relax and result in a renewed sense of energy and well-being. This is especially important when you're too overtaxed and stressed.
- Practicing deep relaxation techniques
Engaging in deep breathing, meditation, stretching, yoga, or prayer can help you relax and focus.
- Balancing work and family life
While you want to do everything you can to be sure you're successful in your career, make sure you are spending quality time with your family. Finding a beneficial balance will leave you happier and more fulfilled.
- Using time-management skills
Falling prey to procrastination can quickly leave you feeling overwhelmed. Learn ways to better manage your time. By focusing your efforts, you'll accomplish more with less stress.
Unhealthy coping strategies:
- Difficulty communicating
- Abusing alcohol or drugs
Instead of relieving stress, unhealthy coping strategies often contribute to higher stress levels. This is because unhealthy behavior can further complicate your life, resulting in more stress.
Modify your reaction to stress
Not all stress has a negative effect on the body. By recognizing your emotional and physiological reaction to stress, you can begin to change your behavior. If you can control your reaction to stress, you are more likely to be successful both at work and at home.
To begin to modify your reaction to stress:
- Remove unnecessary stress.
There are many stressful elements you can remove from your life. For example, limit your access to the daily news, remove yourself from a stressful relationship, or stop taking on new projects for a while.
- Change your reaction.
It's impossible to avoid all stressful events and situations. However, you can change your reaction to such stressful elements.
- Identify healthy coping skills that will work for you.
Review the list of healthy coping strategies and identify one that you think may work for you. Next, seek ways to incorporate this activity into your daily life. For example, if you want to try a new sport, find a team, attend weekly practice, and participate in scheduled games. Avoid trying too many new strategies at once because it may result in more stress.
- Practice healthy coping skills often.
This can keep you from feeling too overwhelmed and anxious.
Other stress-management techniques
- Assess your diet, and practice good nutrition.
- Exercise regularly.
- Establish a regular sleep pattern, and get enough sleep.
- Limit caffeine intake.
- Limit alcohol intake.
- Quit smoking.
- Get counseling.
- Talk to your doctor to address and resolve any health problems.
When stress leads to anger
Sometimes excessive or improperly managed stress can lead to anger. Can you think of a time when you felt angry about something or someone at work? How did you deal with it? While it's natural and even healthy to feel angry, it's important to learn the proper way to deal with it. To manage your anger:
- Practice deep breathing and other relaxation techniques.
- If you feel you're able to, calmly discuss the situation. Be careful of your tone of voice, body language, and facial expressions. Know when to stop. It's OK to agree to disagree.
- If you're angry, leave the situation before engaging in inappropriate behavior, such as yelling, cursing, or violence.
- Leave work at work. Don't take your problems home with you. You risk taking your anger out on others.
- Seek counseling if you need some advice on how to better manage anger.
- Peel Health: This regional public health service teaches how to manage stress while increasing self-esteem.
- Mental Health America: Learn how to manage stress effectively, as well as how and where to get help.