Stress/ Anger Barometer

anger barometerWhen we are stressed, we often feel angry or worried. Most of us become irritable. So let’s say you had a bad morning; you had an argument with your child or spouse before you began driving your car. Of course, you left home slightly later than usual, so you hit a traffic  jam. You are upset because you may be late for the work and you are still thinking about the argument you had earlier this morning. It is very likely the rest of your day will go badly escalating like the picture unless you do something different.

1. Recognize what is stressful 
It is easy to dismiss the stress by saying that it is just something that always happens and it is not a big deal even though you are upset. So tell yourself, “Boy I had a difficult morning.  I did not like that my son did not get ready on time….”. You cannot deal with the issue until you recognize that it exists.

2. Relaxation exercise of your choice
When we humans were more primitive, stress was a warning sign for getting ready to strike back. So we fight back when we feel threatened.  When you are angry, it is difficult to think calmly. You become defensive or argumentative. You may hurt somebody you love by blaming him/her or become aggressive to defend yourself. Your thinking brain has shut down and you can not think through the situation calmly.
So if you are driving, take deep and slow breathes, several times. Your tight body becomes more relaxed. Your thinking brain needs to be reactivated. Come up with different ways to deal with stress, such as daily exercise, a hobby, laughing with friends, taking a bath etc. We are all different, you need to figure out what helps you most to be calm and relaxed.  

3. Are there any solutions for the reoccurring stress? 
If your child has a difficult time getting ready for school every morning, then when you both are calm, talk to each other for problem solving. Does your child need to go to bed earlier? Does he/she like school? Maybe he does not want to school. Why? Maybe he can not focus on the daily routine and has trouble following through the daily routine. You can consult with  his/her teacher.

4. Review the stress source and think if there is a better way to think about it. The danger of “Should”
The easiest way to stress yourself is to have an inflexible believe system, believing in “should be this way” thinking. For instance, in this story, if you believe that your child intentionally tries to irritate you, you tell yourself that when you were a child, you were more obedient with your parents. “She should be more respectful to her parents.”, ” The city should fix the highway.”,  “I should be working closer to my house.” All those “shoulds” are your worst enemies.

5. Admit your mistake
This is a hard one. You don’t want to be wrong so somebody else should be blamed for the problem. That, of course, gets you nowhere. But when you admit when you were angry and apologize sincerely, your relationships usually improve significantly