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In the last section, we discussed Four Aspects of Blame Which Can Trigger Anger. These include Awareness, Good-Bad Dichotomizing, Assumed Intent and Magnifying.
In this section, we will discuss Four Stress Reduction Techniques. These include Scanning Your Body for Stress, Breathing Away Stress, Progressive Muscle Relaxation and Meditation. You might consider playing this section in a session with a client.
Four Stress Reduction Techniques
♦ #1 Scanning Your Body for Stress
First, let’s discuss scanning your body for stress. As you know, stress is the fuel of anger. Therefore, learning to reduce stress can help you regain control. Clearly, the first step in controlling stress is to recognize how and where tension is affecting your body. Pay attention to these parts of the body:
Feet and legs. Start by wiggling your toes, then rotate your feet and relax them. Note any tension is your lower calves.
Lower torso. Notice if you have tension in your lower back, hips, pelvic area, or buttocks. Relax these areas.
Diaphragm and stomach.
Lungs and chest cavity.
Shoulders, neck and throat. Swallow a couple of times. Roll your head around clockwise a few times and then reverse and roll your head the other way. Shrug your shoulders.
Begin at the top of your head and scan for tension. Look for pain in your forehead. Perhaps there is a band of pain around the top of your head. Maybe there is pain or tension behind your eyes. Notice any tightness in your jaw. Check for locking or grinding of teeth and taut lips. Be aware of your ears. Go back over your head and relax each part.
Now go back and scan your entire body for tension. Allow yourself to relax more and more deeply.
Do you have a client who is unaware of his or her stress? Would playing this section be beneficial to him or her?
♦ #2 Breathing Away Stress
Second, let’s discuss breathing away stress. Obviously, in order to live, you have to breathe. Therefore, in order to live well, you have to breathe well.
Sit comfortably in your chair or if at home lie down on a blanket or rug on the floor. Bend your knees and place your feet about 8 inches apart with your toes turned slightly outward. Make sure that your spine is straight.
Scan your body for tension.
Place your left hand on your abdomen and your right hand on your chest.
Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose, filling your abdomen. Push the air way down to your belly. Notice your left hand being pushed up. Your chest should move only a little.
Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth, making a quiet, relaxing, "whooshing" sound as you gently blow out.
Take a little time to scan your body for tension. Compare the tension you feel at the conclusion of the exercise with what you experienced when you began.
♦ #3 Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Third, in addition to scanning your body for stress and breathing away stress, let’s discuss progressive muscle relaxation. Clearly, physical tension creates stress, which can predispose someone to anger. Anger then causes additional body tension, which escalates and exacerbates the anger in response.
Get in a comfortable position and relax. Now clench fists, tightening your biceps in a Charles Atlas pose. Hold it. Relax. Feel the looseness in your hand and notice how it contrasts with the tension. Repeat this procedure.
Bend your elbows and tense your biceps. Hold it. Relax. Repeat.
Turn your attention to your head. Wrinkle your forehead as tightly as you can for seven seconds. Relax. Squint your eyes closed. Relax. Clench your jaw. Relax. Let yourself really appreciate the contrast between tension and relaxation.
Press your head back as far as it can comfortable go and observe the tension in your neck. Relax. Shrug your shoulders. Relax.
Give your entire body a chance to relax. Exhale, letting your chest become loose.
Tighten your buttocks and thighs. Flex your thighs by pressing down on your heels as hard as you can. Relax. Feel the difference. Now curl your toes downward, making your calves tense. Relax.
I asked Vernon, from the last section, to try this technique. Upon trying it, he stated to me, "I never knew my physical stress could affect my mental stress so much. I felt like I was better-prepared to deal with my life after just taking time to breath and relax."
♦ #4 Meditation
Fourth, let’s discuss meditation. There are four basic components to meditation. a. First, you should be in a quiet place. b. Second, choose a comfortable position that you can hold for about 20 minutes without causing physical stress.
c. Third, select a focal object; this can be a mental image, word or sound that will hold your attention.
d. Fourth, maintain a passive attitude, uncritically and completely feeling the here and now.
Go to a quiet place and center yourself. Assume the posture of your choice. Scan your body for tension and relax.
Breathe through your nose. Inhale, exhale, then pause. Become aware of your breathing.
As you exhale, say the word "one" to yourself. Repeat this with each exhale.
When you get distracted, let go of your thoughts and return to saying "one." Do this for 10-20 minutes at a time.
In this section, we discussed Four Stress Reduction Techniques. These included Scanning Your Body for Stress, Breathing Away Stress, Progressive Muscle Relaxation and Meditation.
In the next section, we will discuss Solving Stress Problems. These include Identifying Problems that Cause Stress, Clarifying Your Goals, Alternative Strategies and Analyzing the Consequences.
- Mann, S. (2004). ‘People-work’: Emotion management, stress and coping. British Journal of Guidance & Counselling,32(2), 205-221. doi:10.1080/0369880410001692247