Premier Anger Management Site
  • facebook

Anger cannot be controlled but our response to anger is in our control. Anger is an automatic response of the nervous system. When it feels threatened the brain floods the body with stress hormones prompting the body’s fight or flight response. It is extremely important to pause and reflect on your anger and the desired outcome before you speak or act. Some tips for calming your mind include: Counting to ten or walking away from the situation until your emotions subside and you can think rationally.

Fear, anxiety, grief, and shame are primary emotions. Anger is not.

Anger may give you a false sense of power. Expressing anger by yelling, fighting, assaults and self-harm do not lead to respect from others. Instead it will destroy relationships and in extreme cases can lead to personal and financial losses. Taking the time to acknowledge anger, and discover the underlying problem can inspire you to be more solution oriented. Ignoring anger and bottling feelings not only neglects to address the problem but may result in serious health problems that can affect your quality of life.

Anger Health Problems Include:

Headaches
Digestive Problems
Insomnia
Depression
High Blood Pressure
Heart Attack
Stroke

Anger Management Skills:

It is important to accept anger as a natural response to perceived threats and loss. Learn to observe your thoughts calmly without judging or reacting. It may be helpful to keep a journal to record when and why you get angry. By jotting down your feelings you can refer back to them and discover your anger pattern to reach possible solutions. Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, listening to music, and any hobby or activity that allows you to have a sense of peace. Research has shown that regular exercise like walking, running, dancing or yoga can reduce stress levels and improve your mood as well as your health. Treat yourself and others kindly and respectfully to reduce frequency of angry outbursts. Consider joining an anger management group to learn better communication and conflict resolution techniques.

FEBRUARY: THE MONTH OF LOVE

“There must be quite a few things that a hot bath won’t cure, but I don’t know many of them.”
~Sylvia Plath

Many people who struggle with anger often want to know how to deal with this powerful emotion, especially in moments when their anger is at its worst. They want the “magic pill” that will decrease their anger from a 10 to a 1 in 0.5 seconds. Unfortunately, that pill simply does not exist!

What does exist, however, is a simple yet powerful tool which can help greatly reduce your anger: prevention. You’ve heard it before, but it’s true! Prevention is the best medicine, and one of the best ways to prevent your anger from spiraling out of control is learning how to practice stress management.

Why stress management, you may ask? Stress is one of the biggest factors that can negatively impact your anger. Therefore, the more you learn to control your stress, the better chance you have to control your anger. In other words, when you feel calm and relaxed in the moment, it takes a lot to make you angry; on the other hand, when you feel stressed out and frazzled, it doesn’t take much at all to get you riled up!

What’s the key to managing stress, then? Catch it early!! The sooner you notice yourself feeling stressed and the sooner you take action, the more quickly you can reduce your stress and, in turn, your potential for feeling anger. In addition, the stress management techniques you utilize can be on any or all levels, including the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual levels. Choose what’s right for you, and remember….take action as soon as possible.

Call to Action!

This week, choose 2-3 stress reduction techniques that you enjoy. For example, you could try getting a massage, exercising regularly, journaling your feelings, walking in nature, getting rest, and/or breathing slowly. No matter what activities you choose, see if you can do them as soon as you notice the first sign of stress. Take action, and watch your stress melt away….

FEBRUARY: THE MONTH OF LOVE

Don’t hold onto anger, hurt, or pain. They steal your energy and keep you from love.” — Unknown

Considering the fact that this month is February, the month of love, I couldn’t think of a better time than now to discuss how to deepen in the love that you feel for both yourself and others.

Valentine’s Day is finally here, and while the focus is, of course, on romantic love, I encourage you to broaden your definition of the meaning of love. Let this day simply be a day of love, in ALL its forms. Whether you’re expressing your love with a spouse, a partner, family, friends, or even your pet (!), let your focus be on the way you show up in your world and the way you share your love with others.

One of the best ways to reconnect with your love is through the simple act of forgiveness. It’s tough to feel love when you’re stuck in a feeling of anger, resentment, hurt or pain. Therefore, why not use Valentine’s Day to release any anger you feel toward someone else (or even yourself)?

When you release the energy of anger, hurt, or pain, you’re essentially freeing up space inside, which allows you to connect more fully to the love that already resides within you.

CALL TO ACTION!

Okay, so how do you release your anger and free up that space, you may ask? Well, one way is by writing a letter to someone who elicits negative emotions inside of you. Write the letter with the intention that this person never has to see it! That way, you can write whatever feelings come forward.

When you’re done, burn the letter, and say an affirmation such as, “I free myself from any anger or hurt that I feel or once felt toward this person. I wish him/her only love and joy.” Try this out, and see if you can experience your heart open, just a little bit more.

Imagine yourself hiking along a meandering dirt path with a friend on a breezy day, enjoying casual conversation as well as the warmth of the sun and the coolness of the wind upon your skin. In the midst of your serenity, your eyes briefly dart upward and ahead, and (gulp) that’s when you see it: a huge monolith, standing tall and proud, casting a giant shadow across the ground. You feel a chill run down the back of your neck, all the way down your spine, because you realize, “This is the rock I’m going to climb.”

Now, most of you reading this post are most likely not rock climbers, but I’m sure you can imagine how attempting to climb a seemingly insurmountable rock is a lot like attempting to accomplish anything in your life that seems overwhelming, stressful, and even impossible at times. As a climber of some scary rocks myself, I assure you—just about anything in life is possible, even conquerable. The trick is learning how to manage your fears and stress, which are nothing short of illusions.

Since I started rock climbing, I’ve learned 3 major lessons about how to move through stress and fear, lessons which I believe apply to every day life situations, such as: writing an essay, completing a work project, planning a vacation, or decorating your living space.

Lesson #1: Take it one step at a time. I know you’ve heard that before, and it’s become quite cliche, but seriously—literally take your goal and focus on one little itty bitty step at a time. If I kept staring at the top of the rock I was climbing, lamenting how far away I was from the end goal, I would most likely not reach the top very quickly, or not even at all. However, if I decide to only focus on the handholds and footholds right in front of me, no more than 5 feet above my head, then I’m sure to stay present with the task at hand. It is here, in the NOW, that I feel centered, focused, and relaxed, as opposed to fearful and stressed out.

Lesson #2: You can do more than you think you can. Yes, another cliche, but oh so true! When I began climbing at the gym, I would only climb pink and yellow colored routes. Why? Pinks and yellows were considered to be the easy routes, and I believe I could only climb at the easy level. Luckily, fellow climbers would often encourage me to climb a green route, a blue route, and sometimes (dare I say) even an orange! Well, guess what? I was able to climb an orange route, simply because I tried. This victory helped me realize that the seemingly unconquerable tasks are sometimes more conquerable than we think—we just have to be willing to try, even if it means making a fool of ourselves.

Lesson #3: Your biggest falls are your greatest triumphs. How can that be so? Your falls provide the greatest opportunity for learning and growth. In addition, they free you from your fear of falling (and failing). Once you experience falling, you no longer fear it, because you know what it’s like. In my own experience, I attempted to climb a route outside that was slightly beyond my capability at the time. I was scared to climb it, but I did it anyway. I climbed the first three quarters of the rock gracefully, but by the last quarter, I was feeling tired and shaky. I tried to hang on for dear life, but I couldn’t fight the inevitable, so I finally let myself fall (a good 20 feet, mind you). Surprisingly, all I could feel was a sense of exhilaration—I fell, and I didn’t die!! Not only that, but it was actually kind of fun, and I realized that falling wasn’t so bad after all. SO, when you are working toward a goal, and feel the terror of falling creeping in…remind yourself that falling itself can be its own success, as it has the potential to free your from your fear of it.

Stress and fear can be an everyday part of our lives. But, I assure you—when we take these lessons and apply them to the goals we create for ourselves, we can learn to manage our stress and our fears, and become the most empowered, strong, and centered versions of ourselves.

The holidays can be fun, yet very stressful. For many, spending time with the family is a joyous occasion. However, for some it can be very stressful and conflicting.

There are many contributing factors to stress during the holidays. These include: financial stressors, choosing the right gift, familial stressors, increases in alcohol and drug use, being reminded of lost loved ones, overeating and weight gain, being single, overcrowded shopping spaces, and preparation of end of year taxes.

Holidays can be stressful due to these many contributing factors.

Financial Stressors
Money can be tight during the holidays. Parents buy their children gifts even when they cannot afford them so that their children don’t feel left out among friends. Then there’s buying gifts for co-workers, friends, and other family members. Some people even travel to be with family, which adds to the financial stress. As you can imagine, financial stressors can become overwhelming, especially when one does not have the means.

Tip #1: Create a budget ahead of time, and try to follow it!
Tip #2: Suggest to your co-workers to have a White Elephant gift exchange.
-Suggest items from home, so you don’t have to purchase anything (e.g. books, CDs, paintings, etc).
-Suggest a spending limit that is affordable.

Stress Behind Choosing A Gift
Some people worry that the person receiving their gift will not like it. Some may even fear being judged for their choice of gift.

Tip #1: If you are worried that they may not like the gift, get something returnable.
Tip #2: If you are worried about being judged, remember that a good friendship isn’t dependant upon gifts.

Stressful Times With The Family
Though it can be a great experience reconnecting with family members and close friends, sometimes we enter situations where we see people whom we prefer to avoid. The internal conflict we may experience as to how to handle the interaction may be very stressful.

Tip: Know what is helpful for you in those circumstances. For example, you can call the person you prefer to avoid and have a conversation prior to running into them at an event.

Grief
When holidays approach, we think of our loved ones that have passed and notice feelings of discomfort that they are no longer here.
Tip #1: Talk to someone you trust about your feelings.
Tip #2: Do some journal writing to process your feelings.

Alcohol and Drug Use
It is very common to drink during gatherings. When under stress, we tend to drink and use substances. There is a high correlation with drinking and aggressive behavior which can negatively impact your relationships resulting in further stress.

Tip: Limit your drinking during the holidays. You know your limit, so abide by it.

Holiday Meals and Overeating
Being invited to one holiday meal after another can contribute to weight gain resulting in more stress. And if it is not a holiday party, it can be eating unhealthy snacks at home for comfort instead of hunger.

Tip #1: Limiting your food intake per meal can decrease the likelihood of weight gain. Even avoiding the dessert may be helpful.
Tip #2: When at home, eat mindfully. Meaning, don’t eat with distractions such as television.

Single During the Holidays
When thinking about the holidays, we not only imagine going to gatherings with loved ones, but also with a significant other. As a single person, one may dwell on the thought of not having a date for the holidays, and anxious about how to respond when asked about their love life.

Tip #1: Have a prepared response that is respectful.
Tip #2: Remember that people are asking as a way of connecting and not as a means to judge.
Tip #3: The most important relationship is the one with yourself.

Crowded Shopping Areas
It can be overwhelming to be bumped into while walking and/or waiting in long lines.

Tip #1: Go shopping at a less busier time such as opening hours.
Tip #2: Do some deep breathing or distracting techniques (such as taking reading material with you) while waiting in line.

End of Year Tax Preparation
For business owners, preparing end of year taxes can be stressful.

Tip: Put aside an hour per weekday for data entry and organizing your tax preparation.

Author: Anita Avedian, MFT
Director of Anger Management 818

Making decisions are challenging. You don’t know whether the decision you make will result in a satisfactory outcome. Or maybe, you are concerned with regretting the decision you make today.

What are some obstacles in decision-making?
A. The grass is greener on the other side: This is an obstacle in the decision making process since you don’t want to result in feeling resentful. Unsure whether you have this viewpoint? If you find yourself frequently thinking that it would have been better to go with another option, then you are likely to have this viewpoint.

B. “You made your bed, now sleep in it.” Of course hearing such messages will impact your confidence of making the “right” or “best” decision. The underlying tone of this obstacle is feeling guilt. Maybe you won’t have the appropriate amount of emotional support from loved ones because they hold you responsible for your misery.

C. The unknown. Not knowing what to expect feeds into feeling anxious. For anxiety sufferers, you may feel a sense of relief once you make a decision. Unfortunately no matter which decision you choose, you may still find yourself worrying.

Some Helpful Strategies to Decision Making

The 4 steps to Decision Making. The 4 steps are used for more simple (non-complex) situations. It includes listing various options and evaluating them.

The 8 steps to Decision Making. The 8 steps are used for more complex situations. In addition to what the 4 steps includes, this strategy incorporates rating the importance of each option, determining the level of influence or control you may have of each disadvantage, along with sorting the level of importance.

Exploratory Questioning
This strategy helps with improving your confidence. It’s the preferred strategy for people who frequently doubt themselves. Some helpful questions include: (1) What would help you feel more confident about your decision? (2) What are your fears around making the decision?

Some Helpful Reminders:

1. No matter what decision I make, I can find reasons to regret that choice. It is up to me to focus on the benefits of my decision.
2. It’s easier looking hindsight and realizing what I could have done differently.
3. I need to trust myself that no matter what decision I make, I will adjust to the outcome.
4. Looking back at all the decisions I made, I have figured a way to manage through the outcome.

Written by: Anita Avedian, MFT
Director of Anger Management 818

For the holiday season, here are some helpful tips to manage your stress:

1. Listen to a relaxation exercise or meditate. Not only will you feel relaxed while doing it, but most people also experience a sense of calm that lasts for hours afterwards.

2. Exercise or yoga are great for reducing stress, even if it is only for 15 minutes a day.

3. Take little breaks throughout the day to recharge your batteries. Five or ten minutes every other hour is all it takes.

4. Remind yourself of what it is you are grateful for and refocus your mind on the positive.

5. Identify what your boundaries are and keep them intact. This will help avoid taking on too much responsibility and experiencing burn out.

6. Listen to music.

7. Utilize time management skills, such as writing a daily list of things to do and delegating tasks, in order to help manage your day.

8. Live within your financial means. Money worries are one of the causes of stress.

9. Limit your alcohol and caffeine intake.

10. Make healthy eating choices. While this may be hard during periods of increased stress (many people overeat as a reaction to stress), keeping a balanced diet helps maintain focus and energy.

11. Read a book or make time to engage in any pleasurable activity or hobby. Do something you enjoy or try a new hobby.

12. Cook or bake something and share it with others. Chocolate-chip cookies can have amazing healing powers!

13. Watch a movie

14. Relax. Take a long, hot shower or pour yourself a bubble bath and light some candles.

15. Give to others. A little giving, even something as simple as holding the door open for someone or letting someone go in front of you in line, will go a long way.

16. Give yourself a pat on the back and recognize your accomplishments for the day. All of us are so good at criticizing ourselves. Try giving yourself a compliment and see if your mood changes.

While these might be good suggestions for you, they will only work if you actually use them. Try one or two per day, and hopefully you will feel more at ease.

Erika Krueger, M.A., is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and an Anger Management 818 Facilitator who specializes in addictions and anger management.

The following are a series of thought patterns that can lead a person to anger if he/she is not aware of what is occurring and does not take steps to disarm them:

  • You think that people misunderstand you or do not listen to you much of the time?
  • You constantly think of things you could have or should have said or done better?
  • You often judge what others could have or should have said or done better?
  • You habitually think of ways that people have hurt, embarrassed or blamed you?
  • You can’t help thinking that others are talking about you behind your back?
  • You cannot stop suspecting that others do not want you to succeed and are working against you?
  • You blame others for the plight in which you find yourself now or found yourself before?
  • You think that “if only people saw it my way—the right way—things would be much better (i.e. , you would be in your comfort zone)?”
  • You have to control what others do, so that things turn out the way they are supposed to (to your advantage)?
  • You think, “I have the right to get mad if you don’t do what I want you to?”
  • You believe that you do not have a choice and have to react to various stressors by getting angry?
  • You are sure that getting angry is a useful tool for intimidating people and getting your way?
  • You are afraid for your safety or that of a loved one and immediately go into “fight” (flight, freeze) mode?
  • You think that you are entitled to do or have things that others are not; and if you are not allowed to do/have it, that you have the right to demand it?
  • You often believe that you are owed something and don’t understand why others don’t see it?
  • When you are waiting in line and someone cuts in, or if you think that someone is getting preferential treatment at your expense you get angry.
  • You believe, but won’t admit, that certain rules should be followed by others, but that you are an exception?
  • It feels like a personal attack when your significant other is with someone else for any reason or has gone somewhere without telling you and you think of ways to punish her/him?
  • You are constantly going over stories in your mind that you have told or will tell others, so as not to be caught in a lie.
  • You hold grudges or find it impossible to forgive certain people?
  • You get frustrated quickly and lose hope that things will get better?
  • You have pictured in your mind what it would be like to harm or kill yourself or another person?

Michael L. Hecht, MA, MFT, 8/30/2011

Written by: Judith Morton Fraser MFT

“I’ve started to notice how I make relentless judgments about people whom I don’t even know.” Phyllis said as she sat on the sofa in my office. “I want to slap the Gelson’s cashier for calling me sweetie. If the man upstairs doesn’t stop tap dancing on my ceiling during dinner I’m going to scream.  And, I want to take a giant fork lift and remove all those ‘crazy’ drivers on the freeway who are out to get me.”

     Phyllis brushed her short black hair back behind her ears. “It’s not like me to want to retaliate, but right now I feel like I’m looking for reasons to be angry to protect myself.” She shook her head, scrunched up her mouth, then glanced at the print of hearts on the opposite wall.

    Phyllis, a life coach, is usually filled with compassionate understanding for others – filled with heart like those in the wall print. 

     “Maybe this grouchiness happened after my dad died when I was a kid and has stayed buried until now.”  Phyllis shivered and tightened the velvet blanket over her shoulders like a shield of protection. “Or, maybe it’s a reaction to being in pain. Before I was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago I was growly and irritable. I hurt all the time.”

     Trying to find a reason for a stressful feeling is not unusual.  Sometimes it can be helpful.

     Phyllis looked up. Her eyes softened. “I know there’s a reason for it,” she said. “I just have to find the key.”

     Phyllis let go of trying to figure out her problem and chose to do an in-depth, inner journey process with me based on Eugene Gendlin’s FOCUSING. It’s a process that we had done before.

EMOTIONS ARE ENERGY IN MOTION

When we take time to listen to the body’s responses in a positive manner the body can give us valuable information. Eugene Gendlin calls this an “aha” experience. It’s a felt sense.  A release of blocked energy. A letting go of a fear no longer valued.

PHYLLIS’S DISCOVERIES

I’ve broken down the steps that I use to: Intend, attend, descend, and amend.

     I waited as Phyllis relaxed into the sofa, closed her eyes and let go of any distractions that would block her from being present to her feelings. 

 Step One: Intend (to discover something new)

     “I want to discover what this inner irritation and anger is all about.”

 Step Two: Attend (to body sensations)

     “The back of my neck, between my shoulders is tense.” Phyllis reached back and touched the area.  “There’s a lump there.  It’s always an irritation.”

     Noticing where the irritation manifests itself in the body is helpful.  It provides an actual place to attend to. “Is it all right to bring your breath and your Intention to the lump to discover more about it?” I asked her.

     “Umm humm.”  Her eyebrows knitted together in a frown. “There’s someone.  It looks like a crotchety Gnome there.  It’s irritated all the time.”  Phyllis took a deep breath and shook her head.

     Since Phyllis was a highly visual person it was not surprising that she pictured a tangible image. “Is it all right to discover more about this crotchety Gnome?” I asked.

     Sometimes just making contact with the irritation and/or the shape it takes on is enough. The symbols that arise from the unconscious are protectors.  They are there to block a traumatic event or painful memory from being revealed.  The journeyer must be emotionally strong enough for the protector to reveal more information.    

 Step Three: Descend (deeper into the body sensations)

      Phyllis growled and continued without hesitation.  “He’s on guard waiting for something to make him snap.” Phyllis twisted her face to take on the visual look of her inner Gnome.  “His job is to wait and see who’s next to snap at.”  Phyllis took a deep breath and relaxed her face.  “Yuck!  Why does he have to do that?”

     It was one of those questions that can only be answered by encouraging Phyllis to stay with her inner experience. I suggested that she might talk to her Gnome.

     Phyllis took a little time to herself. I remained attentive as she continued to listen to her body. “It’s like we made an agreement, this Gnome and me … God!

     There was a definite shift in awareness.  An “aha” moment of discovery. Phyllis sat up higher in her seat and threw her head back.

     “My ex-husband, Tom, was so abusive … physically and emotionally.” Tears rolled down her face.  “I ended up on the floor in a bloody mess more than a few times.  When I left, after years of putting up with being the target of his rage, I said to myself, ‘I’m never gonna let that happen again. I’m gonna be on guard against anyone who might hurt me.”  She swallowed hard.  “The Gnome is protecting me.”  More tears flowed as she continued to explore the reason for her irritation.

     Phyllis had talked about her husband’s abuse with me before, so it wasn’t anything that was hidden. I wondered why the protection was still there. “Can you talk to the Gnome and find out why he’s still guarding you?”

     Again, I framed the question as a choice. It would be up to Phyllis to accept or decline.

     “Why are you still guarding me?”  She asked.

     Time stood still as we both waited to discover what would happen next. 

     After a while Phyllis took a deep breath. “He’s waiting … waiting for me to say … I can take care of myself … so his job is finished.”  She nodded as if listening to someone standing nearby. “He said that we made an agreement … he was supposed to protect me … against being hurt … for as long as I needed.”

     Usually we make up False Beliefs to protect us from emotional pain. Phyllis needed protection from physical as well as emotional pain. 

Step Four: Amend (let go of the past belief)

“Is there anything you want to say to the Gnome?” I asked.

     Phyllis continued. “I want to thank him for helping me all these years and let him go.” Phyllis’s face broke into a big grin. “Thank you Gnome.  You did a great job.”   Her laughter filled the room. “He’s packing up and leaving.”

     Phyllis felt strong enough to release her past protection.  A protection that had been sorely needed for her to develop into the strong wise woman that she had become. I don’t always agree that letting go of a past protector is the right thing to do, but I followed Phyllis’s lead. 

     Each journey, each personal message is different.  Learning to listen to the body in a positive way allows us to heal our past wounds. “Imagine yourself developing an ‘emotional muscle’ to deal with difficult situations that consist of fear, stress and frustration.  Imagine yourself becoming your own best friend, feeling safe and at home within yourself. By learning focusing and making it part of your daily life, you dip into the implicit treasures of your body wisdom.  The result is greater calm, wiser choices, and a deeper sense of connection to your own life and being.” Focusing Institute Vision.

 Dynamic Living Magazine, Jan/Feb 2011, focusing pg1

Focusing as a Process for Anger Resolution, Connections Newsletter, SFV, May – June 2011

According to the American Psychological Association, stress in America is on the rise. In 2010, 73% of parents surveyed reported family “responsibilities” to be the number one reason for stress in their lives.

Thirty-two percent of parents reported their individual stress to be extreme and rated their stress level an eight on a scale of one to ten. Yet, in spite of the all this self-awareness, only 32% of parents surveyed reported that they are actually doing a good job of managing their stress.

Your body is unable to recognize the difference between physical and psychological stress triggers. When you experience stress due to busy schedules and increased responsibilities, your body will react in the same way that it will if you experience stress because of a perceived threat.

A balanced amount of stress can help keep you going and keep you motivated, however, chronic stress can lead to many serious health problems. Long-term and chronic stress can raise blood pressure, weaken the immune system, increase your risk of heart attack and stroke, contribute to infertility, and speed up the aging process (yikes!).

Long-term stress leaves you more vulnerable to experience clinical depression, chronic generalized anxiety, less patience, and increased irritability. Long- term stress will make your body ache in almost all areas, especially in your neck and back. Long-term stress can disrupt your sleeping patterns, leaving you fatigued and exhausted, which will eventually lead to increased levels of stress.

Chronic stress may also lead us to engage in unhealthy behaviors, such as increased use of alcohol and improper use of prescription medication. Unhealthy behaviors such as these are dangerous and can cause serious health problems as well as damage our relationships with others.

Stress is experienced differently by every one of us. This means that what is perceived as stressful for one person may not necessarily lead to stress in another person. It is important that you understand your personal limits and triggers to stress so that you can master the art of managing your stress.

If you are able to understand your limits and recognize your triggers you may be more successful at managing your stress during periods of increased stress.

It is not uncommon to have increased stress when experiencing times of increased responsibilities, like during the holidays, when there’s a death or serious illness in the family, or when you’re under a deadline at work. In times of increased stress it is essential that people take some time out of their day to do something for themselves that will help reduce and manage their experienced stress.
 
I often hear my clients tell me “I don’t have time”. My response is simple: “Make the time”. When you stop taking care of yourself, you are putting yourself at risk for experiencing the above mentioned symptoms and personal suffering. Try to appreciate and value yourself enough to schedule one or two self-care behaviors into your daily routine.

Here are a few ideas that may help you decrease your stress. Consider incorporating them into your daily routine to help manage stress levels throughout the year. 

  1. Listen to a relaxation exercise or meditate. Not only will you feel relaxed while doing it, but most people also experience a sense of calm that lasts for hours afterwards.
  2. Exercise or yoga are great for reducing stress, even if it is only for 15 minutes a day.
  3. Take little breaks throughout the day to recharge your batteries. Five or ten minutes every other hour is all it takes. 
  4. Remind yourself of what it is you are grateful for and refocus your mind on the positive.
  5. Identify what your boundaries are and keep them intact. This will help avoid taking on too much responsibility and experiencing burn out. 
  6. Listen to music.
  7. Utilize time management skills, such as writing a daily list of things to do and delegating tasks, in order to help manage your day.
  8. Live within your financial means. Money worries are one of the causes of stress.
  9. Limit your alcohol and caffeine intake. 
  10. Make healthy eating choices. While this may be hard during periods of increased stress (many people overeat as a reaction to stress), keeping a balanced diet helps maintain focus and energy.
  11. Read a book or make time to engage in any pleasurable activity or hobby. Do something you enjoy or try a new hobby.
  12. Cook or bake something and share it with others. Chocolate-chip cookies can have amazing healing powers!
  13. Watch a movie
  14. Relax. Take a long, hot shower or pour yourself a bubble bath and light some candles.
  15. Give to others. A little giving, even something as simple as holding the door open for someone or letting someone go in front of you in line, will go a long way.
  16. Give yourself a pat on the back and recognize your accomplishments for the day. All of us are so good at criticizing ourselves. Try giving yourself a compliment and see if your mood changes.

While these might be good suggestions for you, they will only work if you actually use them. Try one or two per day. My hope is that it will help you feel more at ease and less stressful.

Erika Krueger, M.A.,  is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and an Anger Management 818 Facilitator who specializes in addictions and anger management.