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Learn To Manage Your Stress and Anger In Healthy Ways

Stress and anger often go hand in hand. Our lives today have become increasingly busy and complex filled with commitments, demands, and expectations. The advancement of technology doesn’t seem to have lightened the load much as we experienced when flying this summer. Not only did we have to remember to check-in online 24 hours in advance, but panicked when the Internet connection went down during our window of opportunity. We then tried Plan B, which was to call the airlines, but had to wait on hold for a long time. By the time we got through, the first two seating groups had been filled, so we were destined to not be able to sit together. It was a maddening experience.

Day after day, night after night we have too many demands placed upon us without enough help to meet them all. The kids need to get to different after school activities so you are driving around town as fast as possible to get to them all. The boss wants you to finish a project but you have family in town that you rarely get to see. Your child hasn’t been doing well in school and after what seems like a million doctor’s appointments, is diagnosed with ADD. The commute to and from errands and work is often no picnic either, filled with traffic; construction, car problems or obnoxious drivers that slow us down. Or world events occur, like the stock market plunges and you don’t know how you are going to keep up your current lifestyle or a local gunman shoots up a school. The end result is many of us are left feeling exhausted, angry and totally stressed out.

Some stress can be good because it helps keep you alert and focused on accomplishing a task like studying hard to get a good grade on a test in school. However, if this stress and anger becomes constant and overwhelming, our response can cause an emotional, behavioral and/or medical breakdown. When stress gets out of control, some people respond with uncontrolled anger because they don’t know what else to do. This includes yelling, screaming, physical violence and intimidation. It might escalate to a domestic violence situation or even public altercations involving the law like road rage incidents, bar brawls or cyber or in-person bullying.

The physical effects of stress and anger on your health are numerous. If you are ruminating over an event for months on end, your blood pressure and pulse rate tend to increase. This can contribute to hardening of the arteries and heart attacks. Stressed out angry people can also expect to feel tired, depressed, have trouble sleeping, sweat more, suffer from stomach issues like diarrhea or ulcers, shake and turn red, and experience painful skin conditions like eczema. Many also end up getting sick more often or with autoimmune conditions. Another side effect is weight gain. When the body is stressed it releases adrenaline and cortisol, hormones that can trigger the feeling of being hungry. Finally, everyone over the age of 40 knows this one – your back goes out. All the tension builds up and sends our muscles into spasms leaving us in pain and ineffective.

The only way to handle all this is to learn how to express and manage our thoughts and actions in healthy ways by learning news skills. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy either one-to-one, in groups or with online classes teaches how to recognize the anger and stress triggers in your life and respond in a positive manner. The solution is to not only try to simplify your life but to learn techniques to help you respond to life’s daily challenges in a more productive way.  It's understandable that you feel like you can't add one more thing into your packed week, but taking this time can ultimately change your life forever.

How Anger Management Classes Can Benefit Justin Bieber

Do you know someone with anger management issues? One high profile celebrity can’t seem to get away from his own poor behavior. On the coattails of his conviction for egging his neighbor’s Los Angeles home, Justin Bieber has now been sentenced for his January 2014 arrest in Miami. At the time, he was pulled over for taking part in a street race. He was originally accused of DUI and resisting arrest but has pleaded it down to a careless driving and resisting an officer without violence violation. The judge sentenced him to watch reality videos of DUI cases that ended in tragedy, pay court fines, make a $50,000 charitable donation and to take a 12-hour anger management class. After analysis of the case, the judge determined that more than just fines, Bieber needs some help and intervention.

Why anger management classes you may ask? As we’ve seen with many child celebrities, reaching stardom at such a young age can wreak havoc in the long-term. Some grow up without limits or structure and believe that they should always be able to get what they want. In this case, he overlooked the law by participating in an unsafe drag race on public streets. However, when caught, instead of apologizing and accepting blame, he supposedly lashed out in anger at the cops who tried to stop him, completely in denial of his unlawfulness. This sense of entitlement that he should be able to do what others can’t for his own immediate gratification causes him to become angry, even belligerent when he doesn’t get his way.

Most of us know someone in our lives that displays this behavior. The anger and frustration that person feels when he’s told “no” causes a loss of objectivity, empathy and control. The judge chose to mandate anger management training because it will teach him the skills to use to avoid this reactive behavior. It’s up to him to rise to the occasion and accept the challenge to improve himself by making conscious behavioral changes.

A 12-hour anger management program like the one he was assigned, will push him to become introspective and think about what it is that triggers his unacceptable responses. He will learn improved listening and communication techniques like avoiding interrupting others with “yes, but” or “no, I never!” A key component to listening is to repeat back what he heard the other person say to clear up any misconceptions in a respectful and calm tone of voice. Anger control classes will also teach empathy to help him reflect and understand how his misguided high-profile behavior affects individuals and the world around him. Just because he’s popular doesn’t mean he’s always right and his antics are not only self-centered, but could cause serious injury, basically he’ll learn the importance of social awareness.

Finally, a large benefit of anger management training entails learning new stress reduction tips. Just like Bieber, many of us live fast-paced, high-stress lives and anger classes teach techniques to help calm down before a conflict arises. A good anger management program either in a group setting, online or 1/1 with a qualified therapist is education that most of could use for success in our daily lives.

Journaling To Manage Your Anger

When you are angry there are a number of things you can do to help calm yourself down before responding. One we’ve talked about a great deal is to physically remove yourself from the situation to gain time to think about things. Another is to get exercise. The activity helps to burn off the excess energy, reduce your blood pressure and releases endorphins that improve your mood. Furthermore, meditating or breathing deeply and counting slowly also have shown to relax the body and lower the stress level.

Another great way to simmer down and help reflect on your angry emotions is to express yourself by journaling. Writing your thoughts down is great therapy because you release your negative, bitter feelings in a safe way and can completely be yourself. It gives you quiet, alone time to think about what has been said or done and the opportunity to respond in a more thoughtful and rational way after analyzing what you have written down. People who journal as a response to anger say that it helps to reduce the pain, improve their mood and process the whole experience to help them gain control of their angry feelings.

If you haven’t tried this method of anger control before, now is as good a time as ever. Here are some tips on how to make it a constructive experience:

1. Write the entire thing down. Think about what happened and put pen to paper, or type it on your tablet.

2. What exactly was the event that made you so angry? What triggered your anger? Was it one thing like an unexpectedly poor review at work? Or, a series of events that led up to it, like months and months of working overtime to get all the work done and then a negative outcome?

3. How did you respond? Write down what you remember saying or doing. Did you sit there and take it internalizing the hurt feelings, or snap back? Did you throw something or even storm out?

4. What do you think about it? Did you respond appropriately? Why is the situation so unfair? Or, after contemplation do you think the other person had a good point?

4. Validate your own emotions. It’s okay to feel angry about a poor review after giving up your personal life and working your tale off.

5. How do you think your response made the individual or people involved feel?

6. What was the end result? How do you feel about the way the whole thing played out? Did your behavior get you what you wanted? Make you feel any better? Or cause even more hurt and pain?

After going through the process of getting it all out in writing, you can gain a better understanding of what lead you to get so angry. In many cases, reflection might help you realize that you could have done things differently to end up with more positive consequences. For example, instead of threatening to quit because of your boss’s poor management style, you might realize that maybe she had a point. Instead of blowing up, just asking for more guidance might be the solution to a brighter future with the company. Journaling is an effective anger management tool for people who want to gain control of their behavior and improve their life.

What Are The Best Ways To Respond To An Angry Person?

Do you find yourself in situations where you are uncomfortable and even frightened because the person you are with is really angry? In the workplace, it might be a frustrated and exhausted boss who is venting; at home it might be a spouse who is unable to manage his/her behavior, or a friend that is going through rough times. Or, if you are in the service industry, you might run into angry customers all the time. It’s an uncomfortable feeling and can be a stressful experience for everyone in the person’s path. Knowing how to diffuse the moment until the angry person can calm down is a helpful skill to have.

Let’s start with what generally doesn’t work. These are responses you should avoid because they only contribute to the escalation of the angry episode. They include:

1. Getting angry back at them.

2. Blocking them from moving away from you until their anger is resolved.

3. Telling them to relax.

4. Insulting them in any way.

Instead, employing some of the following techniques can actually help to temper and resolve the intensity of the moment. In fact, just the other night we were out to dinner when we witnessed a customer stand up and start screaming at his server because he felt like service was slow and she was ignoring their table. He got red in the face and was downright embarrassing to be around. He was so loud that the entire restaurant got quiet. She diffused the situation really well by utilizing a number of the following techniques. He eventually calmed down and seemed regretful for his behavior.

1. Start with acknowledging their anger. This doesn’t mean that you are saying they are right, but suggests that you understand how they are feeling. For example, “I understand that you are very angry right now because I missed my deadline.”

2. Now is the time to be empathetic. Try to look at the situation through the other person’s eyes. For example, “He has to report back to his boss and it will look bad that we haven’t completed the project”. Even though you may think the deadline was ridiculous because it didn’t give you enough time to turn in quality work, suspending judgment on the other person’s anger can help to diffuse things. Consider that the angry person is doing the best he/she can in the circumstances.

3. Be direct and ask exactly what the person wants of you, or if you can help him/her solve the problem. “Now that I’ve missed the deadline, what can I do to help the matter?” Try not to be defensive about the issue but helpful in finding a solution.

4. Give them peace and quiet to cool off. Remove yourself from the confrontation before it gets out of hand and you regret what you’ve heard or said.

5. Respond to the yelling, screaming and hostility with a calm attitude. The more you engage, the more intense the situation will become. Choose to back off and stay quiet or answer in a soft voice.

6. Realize that their angry behavior is their problem, not yours. Angry people tend to blame others for their inappropriate reaction, instead of taking responsibility for their own actions.

If utilizing these tips doesn’t seem to be working and you are getting worried that the person may eventually become physically violent, make a plan. Don’t wait until it happens, but be proactive with a safe way to keep yourself and any kids involved out of harms way.

Top Court In New York Rules That Cyberbullying Law Is Unconstitutional

Cyberbullying has been in the news a great deal lately. We hear about teen suicides as a result of online badgering and humiliation, and as parents we are constantly told to monitor out kids online activity. Recently, Selena Gomez, an extremely high profile celebrity who usually doesn’t respond to comments on her Instagram account, responded loud and clear to a bully. The follower posted “burn in hell with cancer.” This went a bit too far and Selena took a stand by responding with, “The comment you left about cancer was absurd. How distasteful of a young woman. I have gone through that battle with fans and family members. You can dislike someone but to wish something that could happen to you or your family is uncalled for sweetheart.” This kind of negative comment on your average everyday teens account would surely make him or her feel sad and hurt.

An Albany County, NY law enacted in 2010 prohibited minors from using electronics to spread false, private or sexual information about anyone else. However, the top court in New York State just recently struck down the law that made it a crime. The ruling stated that a large part of the law went beyond cyberbullying and was in violation of our First Amendment rights. While cyberbullying is a serious problem in communities throughout the country, the Civil Liberties Union made the point that making it unlawful doesn’t address the underlying cause so it doesn’t address the root of the problem.

What is “cyberbullying” as opposed to regular old-fashioned bullying you might ask? It’s when a youth is humiliated, threatened, embarrassed or targeted in a negative way by other pre-teens or teens on social media on the Internet, via texting, email or through any other digital technology. It often includes the posting or forwarding of sexually explicit photos, cruel messages or videos. It’s actually an easier way to bully because it’s not face-to-face. Kids can hide behind their screens, in the safety of their own homes and cause emotional distress at the touch of a button.

According to a recent study in Science Daily, hurtful commentary online creates a fear for teens that they will be victimized at school. One study based on approximately 3,500 students between the ages of 12 – 18 across the nation showed that about 7% of students had experienced cyberbullying. In specific areas of the country, it’s much higher. In a 2013 Maryland Youth Risk Behavior Survey Report, about 14.1% of 4,000 high school students surveyed said they had been electronically bullied in the past year. 18.9% said they had been bullied on school property in-person. In Hawaii, 1/3 of the kids surveyed said they were cyberbullied online.

Just like in-person bullying, cyberbullying has been associated with low academic performance, alcohol and drugs, and emotional problems with increased risk of suicide. So we are told repeatedly to monitor our child’s online activity, put computers in a high traffic area of the household and read through their text messages every once in a while. However, it’s even more important as a parent to foster empathy so bullying in whatever capacity never starts. Our role as parents is not to constantly spy on our kids, but to set high moral standards from the get go.