Is there any evidence that a little bit of inner anger is healthy when engaging in problem solving? I personally feel this way, but feel that people around me misinterpret my anger as being directed at them and the world around me instead of at the problem I'm trying to solve. Thanks.
According the the Yerkes-Dodson law, a moderate level of arousal gives energy to the task, improving performance.
The Yerkes-Dodson law is an empirical relationship between arousal and performance, originally developed by psychologists Robert M. Yerkes and John Dillingham Dodson in 1908. The law dictates that performance increases with physiological or mental arousal, but only up to a point. When levels of arousal become too high, performance decreases.
Anger is an emotion that creates arousal, but it is also a negative emotion that makes other people more hostile and negative. Other emotions that create positive arousal are excitement, interest, curiosity etc.
This form of therapy was initially developed to help people combat stress through effective problem-solving, and it was later adapted to specifically address clinical depression. Today, much of the research on problem-solving therapy deals with its effectiveness in treating depression.
Problem-solving therapy has been shown to help depression in:
Problem-solving therapy also appears to be effective as a brief treatment for depression, offering benefits in as little as six to eight sessions with a therapist or another healthcare professional. This may make it a good option for someone who is unable to commit to a lengthier treatment for depression.
Therapy worksheets related to Anger for Adolescents
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6 Shocking Ways Repressed Anger Affects Your Health, Backed by Science
Keeping anger inside for long periods of time is not healthy and can have serious repercussions for the person holding it in. Here are six ways that repressed anger can harm you, backed by scientific studies:
1. Repressing anger is associated with heart disease
Studies have shown that by repressing anger, you are putting a great deal of stress onto your heart. One study found that people who were prone to repressing anger were at twice the risk of contracting coronary heart disease than those who were calm.
The answer is clear, in order to protect your heart, you should identify your feelings of anger and address them before you start to suppress them. Dealing with anger in a constructive way is not only healthier for your psychological welfare, but for your physical wellbeing also.
2. You are more likely to be at risk of a stroke
If you constantly repress your feelings of anger, then you lash out in a much more aggressive manner, you are three times more likely to have a stroke than those who do not suppress theirs. If you already have a brain aneurysm, there is a six times higher risk of rupturing this aneurysm after an angry outburst. In order to cope with feelings of anger that are then repressed, research suggests identifying triggers that prompt the anger and then address them with a different response.
3. Repressed Anger is linked to depression
Known as passive anger, where people think about their anger but do nothing about it, is linked to depression. Many studies have linked repressed anger to depression but all is not lost. Getting up and out and about relieves depression, no matter what the cause and this is true of repressed anger. Choose an activity that occupies your mind or one that soothes and relaxes you, and the anger will naturally dissipate.
4. It can weaken your immune system
Do you find that you are constantly sick all the time? Do you tend to repress your feelings, in particular, your anger? Research shows that those who habitually repress their feelings of anger are more likely to get sick.
In one study, even healthy people who had only recalled an angry incident had a six hour drop in the body’s natural antibodies – immunoglobulin. This is the body’s first line of defence when it comes to the immune system.
For those that are angry all the time but do nothing about it, it is healthier to adopt a few coping strategies, such as using humour, conversation or problem-solving, to get the mind away from the anger feelings.
5. Repressing anger can make anxiety worse
Anger and anxiety are similar emotions, they use the same chemicals in the body such as adrenalin. In studies, those who suffered from generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) found that if they repressed their anger on top of these symptoms their anxiety grew worse.
There are many similarities between anger and anxiety, angry people sometimes feel helpless, as do those who suffer from anxiety. Repressing anger can make a person irritable, as can anxiety. If a person has deep set anger issues that have not been resolved, they can experience worsening anxiety as they are unable to manage their anger properly.
6. Anger can seriously shorten your life
Apparently, happy and optimistic actually live longer, so it can be assumed that angry people do not. Those who are constantly stressed and angry have a shortened lifespan, according to several different studies. This is because stress is intrinsically linked to your health and causes reactions in your body that are unhealthy, such as a rise in the stress hormone cortisol. A rise in cortisol disrupts body processes and can lead to lower immune functions, increased weight gain, higher blood pressure, depression and even mental illness.
There are many reasons why a person might repress their anger. Perhaps as a child, they grew up in a household where emotions were frowned upon. Maybe you had a parent that was totally dependent on your and you had to hide your emotions from them.
Whatever the reason for repressing your anger, it is unhealthy and can cause serious health problems. Talking about your anger will allow you to understand why you are repressing it. By releasing it in a safe and secure way, you can make sure that it no longer damages you or those around you.
Averill, J. R. (1983). “Studies on anger and aggression: Implications for theories of emotion.” American Psychologist, 38 (11), 1145-1160.
Gouin, J., Kiecolt-Glaser, J.,Malarkey, W. & Glaser, R. (2008). The influence of anger expression on wound healing.” Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 22(5), 699-708.
Harburg, E., Julius, M., Kaciroti, N., Gleiberman, L., Schork, & Anthony. (2003) “Expressive/suppressive anger-coping responses, gender and types of mortality:A 17-year follow-up (Tecumseh, Michigan, 1971-1988). Psychosomatic Medicine, 65(4), 588-597.
Johnson, Ernest H. (1990).“The deadly emotions: The role of anger, hostility and aggression in health and emotional well-being.” New York, NY, Praeger Publishers.
Kune, G., Kune, S., Watson, L., Bahnson, & Claus, B. (1991). “Personality as a risk factor in large bowel cancer: Data from the Melbourne Colorectal Cancer Study.” Psychological Medicine: A Journal of Research in Psychiatry and the Allied Sciences, 21(1), 29-41.
Sharma, S., Ghosh, S. & Spielberger, C. (1995). Anxiety, anger expression and chronic gastric ulcer. Psychological Studies, 40(3), 187-191.
Suinn, Richard M. (2001).“The Terrible Twos – Anger and Anxiety: Hazardous to your health.” American Psychologist, 56 (1), 26-37.
Tafrate, R.C., Kassinove, H., & Dundin, R. (2002). “Anger episodes of angry community residents.” Journal of Clinical Psychology, 58, 1573-1590.
Yi, Joyce., Yi, J., Vitaliano, P., & Weinger, K. (2008).“How does your anger coping style affect glycemic control in diabetes patients?” International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 15(3), 167-172.
- Averill, J.R. (1983). Studies on anger and aggression: Implications for theories of emotion. American Psychologist, 38 (11), 1145-1160.
- Gouin, J., Kiecolt-Glaser, J.,Malarkey, W. & Glaser, R. (2008). The influence of anger expression on wound healing.” Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 22(5), 699-708.
- Harburg, E., Julius, M., Kaciroti, N., Gleiberman, L., Schork, & Anthony. (2003). Expressive/suppressive anger-coping responses, gender and types of mortality: A 17-year follow-up (Tecumseh, Michigan, 1971-1988). Psychosomatic Medicine, 65(4), 588-597.
- Johnson, Ernest H. (1990).The deadly emotions: The role of anger, hostility and aggression in health and emotional well-being. New York: Praeger Publishers.
- Kune, G., Kune, S., Watson, L., Bahnson, & Claus, B. (1991). Personality as a risk factor in large bowel cancer: Data from the Melbourne Colorectal Cancer Study. Psychological Medicine: A Journal of Research in Psychiatry and the Allied Sciences, 21(1), 29-41.
- Sharma, S., Ghosh, S. & Spielberger, C. (1995). Anxiety, anger expression and chronic gastric ulcer. Psychological Studies, 40(3), 187-191.
- Suinn, R.M. (2001). The terrible twos — Anger and anxiety: Hazardous to your health. American Psychologist, 56(1), 26-37.
- Tafrate, R.C., Kassinove, H., & Dundin, R. (2002). Anger episodes of angry community residents. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 58, 1573-1590.
- Yi, J., Vitaliano, P., & Weinger, K. (2008). How does your anger coping style affect glycemic control in diabetes patients? International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 15(3), 167-172.
Howard Kassinove, PhD, ABPP, is professor of psychology at Hofstra University and director of the university’s Institute for the Study and Treatment of Anger and Aggression.
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Anger Management Activity: Free Problem Solving Cards
I work with angry kids every day I go to work (and sometimes at home with my own 3 kiddos). We all feel anger. Anger is not bad in of itself it&rsquos what we do when we are angry that matters.
Anger is a secondary emotion that is displayed in an effort to protect the person from feeling other emotions that may be more uncomfortable or less socially acceptable. For instance, it may be easier to feel angry at someone who shared a secret rather than to feel embarrassed.
This poster is a great visual aid when explaining how anger works as a secondary feeling:
The chemical changes that occur in our brain when we are angry give us a boost in adrenalin and make us feel more powerful and confident.
Remember learning about &ldquofight or flight&rdquo in grade school? That&rsquos the term given for the reaction we experience when we encounter a stressful situation.
The chemical changes in our body in the moment provides us with the ability to either confront the situation (fight) or get away as fast as possible (flight). Identifying stressful situations is an excellent anger management strategy.
Samantha becomes angry when she doesn&rsquot understand an assignment. More than likely, Samantha&rsquos feelings of frustration (primary emotion) turns into feelings of anger.
Now that we know what the stressful situation is, or the &ldquotrigger&rdquo, we can begin to teach her anger management strategies.
The anger management freebie below helps students explore social situations that could lead to feelings of anger. Identifying these triggers is a vital step in developing anger management strategies. How can someone control their angry feelings when they are not even sure what is making them angry?
I highly recommend having the child create their own &ldquowhat would you do deck&rdquo where they come up with their own situations that might make children mad.
Instructing my students to create cards that might help them (or other students) allows them to step outside of their own anger and view anger management from a different perspective.
While we review their deck, I have them rate how angry their situation would make them using the anger management gage. This allows me to understand the intensity of their feelings and provides me with the opportunity to point out when they are successful at managing their anger.
Example: Marcus makes a card about children getting mad when they do not get a turn on the tire swing, but he shares that this wouldn&rsquot bother him because he would just do something different. <-Now that is a success to build upon (and explore further)!
We don&rsquot always have to focus on angry outbursts or feelings of being out of control. Nobody enjoys losing control of themselves.
Focusing on times when they were able to control their anger is a great way to build self-esteem and empower them to take further responsibility for their behavior. Who doesn&rsquot like the feeling of success?
If you would like more information about anger management strategies for children, check out 35 Simple Ways to Help an Angry Child.
How problem solving skills can help with anger management
Anger is the response we have to a problem we feel unable to solve, whether it’s a problem in our relationship, at work, or some other aspect of our lives. But anger is almost always an unconstructive response that escalates the problem, rather than solving it. Learning strategies for problem solving instead is not only constructive, but will also help you to manage and avoid using anger altogether.
Next time you start to feel yourself becoming angry at a particular situation, try some of these strategies for problem solving instead of giving in to your anger:
Change your thinking: This is a great way to address problems from a different perspective. Sometimes the way we think can create barriers between the solution and us. Our brains are hard-wired to find and focus on threats as part of our in-built survival instinct. This lends itself to negative thinking, where we only focus on the problem and nothing else. By actively changing your thought process – focusing on goals and the steps you can take to achieve them, rather than always focusing on the problem – a more positive result is likely.
Work on communication skills: Communication is the key to good problem solving, especially if the problem is a relationship or social problem involving others. Anger disrupts the open flow of ideas, because the focus shifts from solving the problem to either criticising the other person, or defending yourself from criticism. Neither position is particularly conducive to clear communication. Think about what you’re saying – and how you’re saying it – is a good way to avoid conflict with another person. If you can communicate your feelings clearly, you’re less likely to become frustrated and angry – and the other person is less likely to react with anger as well.
Change your environment: Sometimes your environment may not be a pleasant positive place to be, which can have a negative affect on your mood and cause you to become stressed, frustrated and ultimately angry. If your anger stems from a negative working environment, it might be time to look for a new job. Most of the time, however, the situation isn’t that dire. It might just be that you’re overworked, tired, and need a break. In which case, take some time off – have a holiday – and when you return, remember to change your thinking, and work on your communication skills.
These may seem like small, easy changes to make, but that’s why they work. Anger usually stems from a small issue that grows into a bigger problem over time. By addressing the issues head on when they appear, and with a willingness to problem-solve and communicate positively with those around you, you’ll have a better chance of solving the problem without anger.
If you would like to read more about ways to manage anger, or for tips and advice on practical uses of positive thinking, continue reading our blog or visit our website for more information.
Marcus Andrews is the founder and director of Life Supports, which was established in 2002. He has extensive professional experience working as a counsellor and family therapist across a broad range of issues. The core component of his role at Life Supports involves the supervision of other counsellors, including secondary consultations. Marcus has worked in many sectors, including private, government, non-profit, health, forensic and community practice.
Understanding anger: How psychologists help with anger problems
Psychologists can help people recognize and avoid the triggers that make them angry. They can also provide ways to help people manage the inevitable anger that sometimes flares without warning.
Everyone gets mad at times. The target of your ire might be a stranger, a loved one or even yourself. Or, you might find yourself furious over external events, such as a delayed flight or a political incident. While anger is a normal human emotion, misplaced or uncontrolled anger can quickly become problematic.
You can learn strategies to help control your anger. Sometimes, though, people need extra help to keep their rage at bay.
Psychologists can help people recognize and avoid the triggers that make them angry. They can also provide ways to help them manage the inevitable anger that sometimes flares without warning.