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.