By Lesley Lanier
Family Life Program Educator
Working as an educator for the Family Life Program at Joint Base San Antonio (JBSA), it’s my passion and goal to help Service Members and their families obtain knowledge and provide family enrichment and resilience services.
With the holiday season here, being mindful of our anxiety and stress levels can prepare us for any event that may come along. With family members and other special guests in our homes, proper planning can arm you against the uninvited company of stress and anger.
This mindfulness includes being aware of our triggers as well as our own stress building beliefs. Such triggers can include disrespect, injustice, lack of control and misinformation. They are usually classified into four categories: SELF, SITUATIONS, OTHERS and/or a COMBINATION of ANY.
In regards to anger, it’s important that we understand that anger is what we FEEL not what we DO. Knowing this, we are able to change the negative thought playing in our head to something positive and realistic. How many times have you been in argument with someone to where the levels reached a point in which what you were arguing about in the beginning was no longer the topic? To prevent this, use “Thought Stopping”. This technique provides the opportunity to examine your feelings to see if they are caused by the present situation, or linked to previous situations.
Some steps to manage your anger include:
Admit that all angry expressions, whether they are good or bad,are the result of choices.
Let go of excessive dependencies so your anger management is inwardly-directed, rather than externally-determined.
Release your craving for control in exchange for freedom.
Set aside idealistic myths so that you have a foundation in truths.
Keep your lifestyle habits consistent with your emotional composure.
Live in humility rather than self-preoccupied pride.
Hold your defenses to a minimum.
Accept the inevitability of loneliness as your struggle to be understood.
Relate to others as equals.
Pass along to our next generation your insights about anger and stress.
Avoid rationalizing your anger and be accountable for who you are.
Be accountable for your own growth & be honest and open about your anger.
According to the Random House Dictionary, stress is defined as, “physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension,” and, “a situation, occurrence, or factor causing this.” The word “stress” actually comes from a Latin word meaning, “distress.” Stressors can be hard to pinpoint because it is an individual thing. For me, family gatherings can cause stress – but it may be one of your great joys in life. With it being known that stress is different for everyone, your coping technique will be individualized as well.
The most important aspect of stress is the ability to handle it. Since most stress is self-induced, the ability to handle it rests, primarily, with the individual. Whether you encounter positive or negative stress, a way to manage involves understanding the Triple A Approach. With this approach you can choose to, Alter the situation or your approach to it, Avoid the situation or Accept the situation. Approaches to relieve stress can be divided into:
Get regular exercise
Improve your diet
Listen to your body
Learn relaxation skills
Get adequate sleep
Develop a support network
Develop a social life
Volunteer your time
Develop a sense of humor
Adopt a new attitude
Set realistic expectations
Keep a positive outlook
Improve your communication skills
Research shows that if not managed properly, stress and anger can cause many physical side effects including but not limited to muscle tension, headaches, high blood pressure, insomnia, depression, obesity and increased risk of heart attack and stroke. The duration and levels of stress and anger attained play an important part on the increase of these effects. Having effective ways to reduce the effects of stress and anger on our body and mind is important.
In parting, I enjoy ending discussions with a quote. So I found one that fits my mantra to a “T.”
“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”
You can find an abundance of stress and anger management articles and assessments on-line. Pertaining to this article, resources used include: