Please help me find a way to vent/release my anger/stress.
July 8, 2011 2:42 PM   Subscribe

Please help me find a way to vent/release my anger/stress.

Can someone please suggest some ways for me to vent my anger/stress. It keeps building up over time and is making me edgy towards other people, which isn't great.

I've found that doing kickboxing in the pas has helped a lot with venting my anger/stress and such, but due to some long term problems with my joints I'm unable to do that for at least the next six months.

I don't know if it makes a difference, but I'm 21 years old and am able to cycle and walk (and such), but not able to do high impact sports.

Thanks in advance.
posted by sockpim to Human Relations (20 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
the most therapeutic thing i've ever done in my life was when i was a kid i would run on the dirt roads by my house, out through the pastures and over hills and just as far as i could go, until my lungs ached. then i'd lay on the grass (watching out for cow patties) . after i regained my breath, i would stand and scream as long and as loud as i could, then i'd trudge, exhaustively home.

next to that, it's been punching bags.

next to that it's been loud music and deep cleaning.
posted by nadawi at 2:50 PM on July 8, 2011 [5 favorites]

Archery is pretty satisfying after a bleak day. You have to forget everything that is bothering you before each draw, and it carries over.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 3:02 PM on July 8, 2011

I just started cycling again a few months ago (for the first time since I was a young teenager), and while I had vague recollections that it used to help me with all that pent-up adolescent energy, I'd forgotten just how much it helped. And still does. Hopping on my little purple roadbike and either pedaling like mad until I'm too exhausted to be stressed anymore, or just distracting myself by focusing on how good it feels to ride and how beautiful my neighborhood is, has done amazing things for my sanity and kept me from taking too much of my stress and anxiety out on other people or bad decisions. (Plus, the feeling of accomplishment is pretty awesome, especially since I've also got injuries that keep me from being able to do many other athletic activities, which tends to add to my stress and anxiety.)
posted by rhiannonstone at 3:06 PM on July 8, 2011

I can't really bunch bags without my wrists hurting, but I can punch if someone is holding training mitts - which is Really fun. Beyond that swimming really helps with exhausting me, too.

Also: meditation.
posted by ldthomps at 3:09 PM on July 8, 2011

Yep, meditation.

There are many ways to meditate. I have had to dig around to find something that worked for me.

I guess you could call the 'let your thoughts go' type the standard meditation fare. It works. This made it click for me: "I find a helpful illustration is a glass of champagne. the bubbles will keep appearing. note them, and allow them to float to the top, and dissipate. do not get upset with yourself when you find that they keep coming." - from a great thread on meditation on Hacker News.

Then I like to light myself on fire. Find a comfortable position, close your eyes, and burn your body. Beautiful and intense white hot flames come from within and are burning your bones and scorching your skin; Jets of the most beautiful fire. I start at my toes. Burn everything, burn it clean. Visualize the fire and feel it, feel its power. Burn everything; What has burned is clean white ash. When I'm in the mood to really let myself go in that one, I feel amazing afterwards.
posted by krilli at 3:20 PM on July 8, 2011 [12 favorites]

swimming can easily exhaust you, and is joint-friendly.
posted by thinkingwoman at 3:30 PM on July 8, 2011

Swimming is awesome for this. Not only is it a full body cardio work-out (it's hard to be too worked up about anything when you're physically exhausted), but something about being in the water is very soothing. It's also like yoga where you really have to focus on your breathing (more so than other exercise, in my experience), which helps twofold in that it calms you AND forces you to focus on something other than whatever is bothering you.
posted by lovableiago at 3:30 PM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm a sedentary person, so I meditate. I let all of the angry thoughts coalesce into a big angry blob in my mind. When I seethe enough that the blob is as large as my head can contain, I allow it to sprout wings and turn into an ugly angry bat. I slowly let my head drop to one shoulder and allow the bat to escape my head and fly away. Afterwards I feel so much lighter and calmer.

Next time I'm lighting myself on fire.
posted by ladygypsy at 3:40 PM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Maybe you've heard that studies suggest "venting" is actually bad for you and doesn't help decrease your anger level. Rather, you should deal with it by engaging in activites "incompatible with aggression." Here's a blog article about it; the actual study.
posted by GastrocNemesis at 3:59 PM on July 8, 2011 [5 favorites]

I used to play "the drums" (as in, I whanged on pillows) along with some drum-heavy songs I had. If I was especially pissed, I picked a really angry song as well.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:09 PM on July 8, 2011

Yoga. It's meditation, but with movement, and really good for the joints.
posted by chez shoes at 4:21 PM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

I skip really hard to aggressive music like Rammstein and Iron Maiden. When I can't do that, I sing really aggressively to music like Rammstein and Iron Maiden. When I can't do that, I sit and I rage to aggressive music like Rammstein and Iron Maiden.

I do all that until I can find a punching bag, like the one I just had installed on my balcony.
posted by human ecologist at 8:34 PM on July 8, 2011

Will add that it took me a long time to get to the point where I could skip comfortably without killing my joints. Before that, I swam laps a lot.
posted by human ecologist at 8:47 PM on July 8, 2011

If you don't have access to a pool, the elliptical is pretty easy on your joints and pretty exhausting. My biggest stress relief is hurling myself at various gym equipment until my limbs are all wobbly. It's pretty much impossible to be angry and tense when your muscles refuse to tense anymore, especially if you chill in the hot tub or sauna or even your own hot bath and have a soak afterward.

Progressive relaxation is also quite helpful at easing physical tension and can be pretty meditative.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 9:41 PM on July 8, 2011

Golf. With cigars and beer. Don't keep score.
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:20 PM on July 8, 2011

Eventually, for non-sexual reasons (cuz I'm geeky about psychology) I got involved with BDSM. Specifically, I apprenticed with a professional Dominatrix as a Domme.

While I do meditation, exercise, yoga, and other stuff... I've never felt as good as I did (or had friends notice the change as much) as when I was doing the Domme-thing.

My lifestyle now does not lend itself to the Domme-thing, but I miss it a lot because it had a positive impact on my attitude. i do simulate that time in other ways into my daily life - for example - I'm hard to take advantage of, I expect a lot more from even casual interactions. I was a push-over and I'm not anymore (and I'm really polite about boundaries, too because I've learned to feel comfortable about setting them. Being paid Big Bucks to set rules taught me it is OK to set and have rules - they're appreciated most of the time. Anyone who doesn't like your rules should not be your friend... )

I'll always be angry because I had a crap childhood, grew up in NYC where the word "f@ck" was a comma, and was a chef by trade for many many years - I'm predisposed to a shitty outlook. People now think I am a super nice nice person. Of course they do! At any given moment I know they could be chit chatting vs. licking the underside of my shoe. So satisfying.

Here's the thing: If you can't develop deep respect for the folks who are keen to lick your boots - then you are not worthy of respect.

By being angry and dominate, you are being of service. By not honoring the transaction (you're angry, they receive your anger) you're being a selfish douche. Only enter into that transaction with folks who clue into the fact that they want to be abused (you know what I am talking about here.)

Make it a point to be lovely to everyone who is lovely to you. Know you have the power to be otherwise on que - it will curb your angry impulses to accept you have the capacity to be shitty. Only flash that when it is truly warranted.

Good for you. You are in touch with something others struggle with. Make it work to your advantage.

With great power, comes great responsibility.

That is all.
posted by jbenben at 10:41 PM on July 8, 2011 [4 favorites]

Flamenco. Stomp the unworthy and look good doing it.

Srsly, the shoes have an iron bar inside them.
posted by tel3path at 3:55 AM on July 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'd recommend what rhiannonstone said - cycling intensively, long bike rides, in my experience those are awesome for letting out anger and stress in a way that doesn't make it worse, but actually makes you feel relieved. It's physical exercise that combines effort and speed, and visual distraction, indeed, if you cycle through an area where you have something interesting to look at, a park, etc. Ideally not in traffic, that won't help with the anger and stress!

Besides it's great exercise even for bad joints. You're sitting, so a lot less stress on your joints than running or kickboxing, definitely.

Meditation or any attempt at changing my thinking didn't do a thing for me for anger or stress when I hadn't had any physical release yet.

When physical exercise is not an option (ah, I'm currently waiting for knee surgery so I was told not to use the bike for now and I do miss it very badly), then I go for distraction tactics, books and movies and tv series. Anything with a bit of action in it, thrillers, etc.. Crime stories are great. Or I just read/watch the news and follow political debates, that does get me angrier but gives me a safe (and deserving) target for the anger too. (Just don't post your angry political rants on the internet, you'll regret it!)

Taking a piece of paper and writing it all down and then crumpling it and tearing it apart and tossing it in the wastebasket, that also may help.

Finally, I keep in mind that, as someone said, "Discontent is the first step in the progress of a man or a nation". I don't enjoy being angry or stressed but I do appreciate getting early signals that there is something I don't like about my life, environment, myself, etc. So I try not to suppress it because anger that's suppressed, in my experience again, can turn into depression, which can turn into apathy, which is a huge lot worse than being stressed and angry. I don't think all anger is bad, and I do think all anger has a reason. Sometimes it is a totally disproportionate reaction to the source of discontent, but sometimes it's totally justified, and you can do something about the cause, rather than trying only to suppress the symptom.
posted by bitteschoen at 5:31 AM on July 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

Exercise, exercise, exercise. Develop a taste for loud, aggressive music: it blasts the poison away. Write furiously - in both senses of the word. See live comedy and laugh like a maniac.
posted by Decani at 11:00 AM on July 9, 2011

And about the Dominatrix comment from earlier...

I re-read my answer today and was a little embarrassed, to be honest. I'm not sure if my meaning came across. What I meant to say was that I had been fortunate enough to get well paid to play with my anger safely. Can you imagine! So much FUN.

Anyhow, once you do that, anger doesn't control you any more. Also, you learn that people are playing out unconscious scripts a lot of the time in interactions. Once you click into that, you can choose who to spend your anger on and who to avoid in the future. People don't push your buttons anymore. It's that simple.

Also, in a weird way, you learn respect for sad people like that. You see where they are coming from, you can spare them compassion or not as you choose. All the while, your own buttons don't get pressed. Very liberating.

OP, if you have anger, I suggest you make friends with it. Learn about anger in yourself and others. It's a valid emotion, even and especially when you feel it but choose not to act on it in a negative fashion.
posted by jbenben at 8:23 PM on July 9, 2011

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