What's a good outlet for stress and tension that doesn't involve redirecting it towards other people?
October 3, 2007 10:22 AM   Subscribe

What's a good outlet for stress and tension that doesn't involve redirecting it towards other people?

Ok, I've known for a long time that it's rather rotten and mean for individuals to relieve their stress, frustration, and tension by taking it out on other people. But an article I've read says that someone who does this ends up feeling better than a person who won't. Which brings me to the point: If responding to stress and frustration by bottling it up is not healthy, what's a good way of finding an outlet for it that does not include letting loose on others?
posted by gregb1007 to Health & Fitness (34 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Exercise, exercise, exercise. Competitive sports.
posted by amro at 10:24 AM on October 3, 2007

Violent video games?
posted by jozxyqk at 10:24 AM on October 3, 2007

Habitat Humanity Destruction Crew? Not sure if there is such a thing, but nothing like taking a sledge hammer to something to dismantle on the basis of good works.
posted by bleucube at 10:27 AM on October 3, 2007

Thai boxing, it works for me....
posted by birdlips at 10:27 AM on October 3, 2007

Sex. Rough sex. Consensual rough sex. Consensual rough sex with the person who's causing the stress, tension and frustration. If it's more than one person, you're going to need a lot of lube.
posted by iconomy at 10:28 AM on October 3, 2007 [10 favorites]

High-contact sports. Rugby, boxing, et cetera.
Then, you are taking it out on other people, but it's totally cool and part of the game, and not rotten or mean at all.
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 10:31 AM on October 3, 2007

1. Go to your local thrift store and buy loads of old plates (or cups, or glasses, or radios, whatever you prefer).

2. Position yourself facing a wall.

3. Throw.

4. Repeat step 3 a hunderd times.

5. Clean up (while being completely stress-free).
posted by lioness at 10:32 AM on October 3, 2007

I've found two general approaches:
Negative: Drink. Heavily.

Positive: Exercise. Hard.
posted by LordSludge at 10:37 AM on October 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

posted by electroboy at 10:45 AM on October 3, 2007

This is a great question, I'm really going to watch the answers myself.

To date, I've found no stress-release mechanism nearly as effective as screaming in a rage to my husband until the anger abates, or until I get so ridiculously over-the-top angry that it starts to become funny. I'm not necessarily taking it out on him because I'm not yelling AT him, rather he's a willing listener. Often, unfortunately, I see bad things I don't mean about other people and end up feeling guilty. And often, unfortunately, he may absord a little of my bad attitude, making him upset, too.

So, the above is not a real healthy solution. I like the plain old simple exercise thing - when I was running regularly, I jsut didn't get the kind of angry that required a major release very often. Now that I'm not running, ticking time bomb of atomic proportions, unfortunately. Other than that, to some degree or another I agree with almost all the suggestions made before me, especially iconomy.
posted by bunnycup at 10:46 AM on October 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

Go get into a pick-up basketball game and play in the paint. Fight for every rebound as if your life depended on it. Scream when you get them, scream when you don't. You'll feel better.
posted by ND¢ at 10:49 AM on October 3, 2007

Obviously exercise. Run. Lift weights. Rock climbing. Or a team sport if you're that kind of person. Personally, I like rock climbing, because it occupies your mind completely, as well as your body. There is simply no room to focus on anything else except for what is immediately in front of you.
posted by number9dream at 10:51 AM on October 3, 2007

I like a combination of excercise followed by non-challenging entertainment. By this I mean things that are enjoyable but not intellectually taxing. Some kinds of video games (especially MMO style games or ones that aren't particuarly hard or frustrating), good books (especially ones I've read before), movies etc...

Get tired then do something soothing and get some sleep.
posted by Riemann at 11:05 AM on October 3, 2007

I used to really like racquetball for this sort of thing. Tires you out, and you get to smash the bejesus out of a little thing for however long you feel like. Even works well without having someone else to play with, since the ball just comes back after hitting the wall. And you're indoors, in a nice acoustically live space where you can scream all your frustrations out at the top of your lungs with no one outside thinking there's anything amiss, while you get an ultra-reverb Voice of God thing going on inside.
posted by LionIndex at 11:08 AM on October 3, 2007

Not getting so stressed, frustrated, and tense in the first place. Which means having healthy coping mechanisms in place, including a regular exercise routine, a regular self-relaxation routine (that is, meditation, yoga, guided relaxations), a strong social support network that you use for problem-solving (not just venting, not just hurling abuse at them), a sense of humor, a general belief that you can control what happens to you (internal locus of control), and an internal monologue that focuses on how capable, in control, and flexible you are, how well you confront challenges, and how much you can learn even from failure. (Most of those specifics cadged from Kleinke.)

Those coping skills will, not coincidentally, also work to get you out of the stressed, frustrated, and tense state that you get in when you forget to use them as preventative medicine.
posted by occhiblu at 11:12 AM on October 3, 2007 [2 favorites]

For release I used to love playing violent video games with cheat codes turned on. Nothin' like Doom II on Ultra-Violence with God Mode (iddqd) and all weapons (idkfa).

You may also want to try yoga. I've been at it for about a month and after a few Sun Salutations, I'm panting, endorphin-rushed, sweaty, and so damn relaxed.
posted by SansPoint at 11:13 AM on October 3, 2007

For me, it is a little Kenny G, some aromatic candles, and a long bubble bath with rose hips and a romantic book that gives me a good cry.

Just kidding. It's exercise. Especially running, which gets you out of the house and gives you new things to see/think about. Plus, there are the endorphins. Sweet endorphins.
posted by 4ster at 11:33 AM on October 3, 2007

Love the throwing plates idea! I wouldn't want to clean up though.

Screaming or yelling doesn't tend to do much but make one tired and possibly make others irritated at you (unless you're alone and can do a blood-curdling one, that might release some tension).

Generally, I try to play devil's advocate and think that my experiences really aren't that bad. Particularly if other people are the ones getting me down - I figure, if they have to be mean or rude to other people, that is sad and I try to feel sorry for them.

If it's a general world frustration feeling, I go the distraction route. Watching some comedy, playing a mindless video game, going for a walk with a camera in tow, etc., can change your perspective or at least occupy your mind from the frustration.
posted by agregoli at 11:35 AM on October 3, 2007

You will never know how satisfying it is to beat the shit out of a heavy bag in your garage until you run on down to your local sporting-goods store and buy the cheepest one they have, install it in your garage and have at it with all the frustration you can muster (just watch your wrists if you are not used to this). Take a bat to it, yell at it, kick it, whatever. It's yours to destroy, and there's nothing to clean up (unless you're really frustrated, then you'll need a dust pan).

Also, confront the source of your frustration, if you can. Avoid being passive-agressive.

Also, Jiu-jitsu.
posted by Pecinpah at 12:02 PM on October 3, 2007

Singing. You can be bad, but be loud. Sometimes I like to dance around the house while singing.

The other thing is to do something kind - volunteer a few hours, help someone carry their groceries, visit an elderly neighbor. It doesn't have to be a big deal, but do something. It's hard to be stressed when you know you've done something meaningful and good for someone else.
posted by 26.2 at 12:50 PM on October 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

The classic is to chop wood.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 12:59 PM on October 3, 2007

This works better before it gets to a boiling point, but: Get a notebook, and on one side of the paper, write down all of the things that are causing you stress and tension. Go down the list and ask yourself two questions about each issue:

1) Do I have any control over this?
2) If I do, what concrete steps can I take to make it better?

If you don't have any control over it, get a big black marker and CROSS IT OUT. If you do have control over it, write down everything you can do to make things better, and FOLLOW THOSE STEPS. Keep the list handy, update as needed, and give yourself a big ol' checkmark whenever you resolve an issue.

It's pretty amazing to see how much stresses us when there's actually nothing we can do about it, and similarly amazing to see how easily some issues can be resolved.
posted by sarahsynonymous at 1:19 PM on October 3, 2007 [4 favorites]

Primal screaming in the car. Careful that you don't make it road raging-- don't scream AT anyone. Just scream.
posted by nax at 1:22 PM on October 3, 2007

Target practice. All the folks at the indoor range I used to frequent were very, very mellow.
posted by Martin E. at 1:28 PM on October 3, 2007

I used to take all my jars and bottles to the huge recycling bins and deposit them with extreme prejudice. Longterm, letting go of anger is better for you than expressing it. Now, I walk. The dog likes this. Meditating and affirmations are good. Cognitive therapy is good.
posted by theora55 at 1:31 PM on October 3, 2007

1. Get a massage. Try a few different modalities to find one (or more) that feels best for you - swedish, lomi lomi, myofascial release, deep tissue, shiatsu, thai yoga massage.
2. Meditate.
3. Yoga.
4. Exercise - running, swimming, lifting weights, boxing, whatever.

Now I think about it, I have several clients that come in primarily to deal with stress caused by work and/or family, so:
5. Get a massage.
posted by goshling at 3:35 PM on October 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

I figure if I'm in pain and I can't think of something pleasurable as a treat (generally, I can't) then there are two options (1) do a nasty unpleasant job since I feel crappy already (2) do something painful that is good for me (e.g. killer workout with weights, focusing on my weak points). Well, that's my usual stess and tension, pain. But general stress and tension, definitely music. I like JS Bach or Elvis Costello. The latter you can really belt out some nasties and it feels good, and often sounds good.
posted by Listener at 4:18 PM on October 3, 2007

i can't believe i'm the only one who advocates masturbation.
posted by loiseau at 4:38 PM on October 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

A couple xanax chased by half a bottle of wine always worked for me.
posted by whoaali at 5:50 PM on October 3, 2007

Skydiving. Go do a tandem skydive and I guaran-damn-tee you won't be thinking about what's stressing you out for a while.

Mountain biking. Hitting some good technical trails on a mountain bike has the benefit of exercise and getting your mind off the stress, and onto the trail.
posted by altcountryman at 7:03 PM on October 3, 2007

Yeah, yeah, I exercise daily and it's all good, but what really lifts the stress is singing. With a bunch of other guys in a barbershop quartet style chorus. It's one of the few things that guys can do together that doesn't involve competition or blowing things up. Getting together in group to create something that sounds pretty is recreation in every sense of the word.
posted by klarck at 7:53 PM on October 3, 2007

I'm gonna have to second loiseau's suggestion. I also recommend low-stress videogames, so the opposite of violent/scary. I'm much more relaxed after playing some Animal Crossing on a DS or old-school Monkey Island on a PC.

Basically: masturbation and videogames.

This advice sounded a lot less sad in my head.
posted by slimepuppy at 9:17 AM on October 4, 2007

The bicycle. It gets you breathing hard and you are out and about and can look at things.
posted by philfromhavelock at 5:32 PM on October 4, 2007

I can't believe I forgot: Playing music!

Of course, you have to be a musician of sorts -- or willing to learn -- but this is a GREAT way to positively channel stress and emotional "energy". Aside from the short-term release it gives you, it allows you to make lemonade from lemons: anytime you find yourself in a lousy situation, you at least know you can get a good song out of it!
posted by LordSludge at 8:40 AM on October 5, 2007

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