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Adrenaline Management Tips

February 27, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 120

Anger Management, or Adrenaline Management? Anger is not a bad emotion; it signals a need and provides energy to deal with it. Mix it with excess adrenaline or other stress hormones and it can become aggression at a time that aggression hurts and does not help. Adrenaline is designed to fuel instant action and numb pain, but interferes with complicated problem-solving or complex tasks. Imagine doing this right after an intense argument: a complex math problem, giving a speech before a crowd, or brain surgery.

An "adrenaline drunk" has a decreased ability to see the impact of a decision, decreased ability to see options to solve a problem, decreased ability to see another point of view, and disruption in short-term memory. Anger and stress hormones are related to lowered immunity, cholesterol, heart disease, stroke, cancer, pain, and substance abuse. Contributing factors can include ADHD, depression, anxiety, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, substance abuse, fatigue, low blood sugar, hyperthyroidism and other medical conditions.

How can one sober up? The emotions and biochemicals associated with those emotions need time to process and metabolize through the body. The sympathetic nervous system, "the accelerator," the "fight or flight" system needs to transition to the parasympathetic nervous system, "the brake," the "rest and digest" system. Understanding the anatomy of a trigger, thinking error, and perceived threat can reveal the need for relaxation skills, changing the way one thinks, and improved relational skills.

Consider this mathematical formula: Trigger + Thinking Error = Perceived Threat. Triggers are perceived as unexpected. So one's own expectations are keys to triggers. Triggers are also seen as preventable. The thought is that "it" should not happen. Once more, triggers are often seen as intentional, a perceived threat. Thinking Errors include:

DemandFalse IntentionMagnification and MinimizationLabeling

Demand thinking is right or wrong thinking involving "shoulds" and opinions. Right or wrong exists, but if demanded it can create resistance, an interesting feature of the human race. False intentions are beliefs that the trigger is intending to be hurtful, which may or may not be true. Magnification is making the problem worse than it is and minimization is underestimating one's one ability to handle it. Labeling, or name-calling is often vulgar and it alone can create an adrenaline rush. So let's do some math. Can you identify the thinking error?

Trigger + Thinking Error = Perceived Threat

You are driving behind a slow driver on an open road + "He's careless and trying to piss me off" = "I will be late."Your son and his friends leave the house a mess + "That royal pain in the ass! = "I'm not doing enough as a parent."Your co-worker criticizes your work + "She should keep her mouth shut" = "I'm not good enough."My daughter ignored me + "She has no respect for me as a parent" = "She's going to ruin her life."You spill food all over the floor + "Nothing goes right for me" = "There's something wrong with me."

Rest and Digest, relaxation skills take practice. They are not just a technique. You have to get better at it. To increase the use and effectiveness of our brain (and other organs) we relax the body.

Acceptance or awareness of anger before it is too late. Many times things will not go your way. It is not resignation. It is knowing where to put your energy. It includes mindfulness: awareness of one's feelings, thoughts, and sensations without reacting or judging them.Breathing Techniques. One example is breathing in the words "I am" and breathing out "okay" or "This too" "shall pass. Others use belly breathing, deep breathing using your diaphragm. Your stomach should extend, not your chest. Others breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth. "Combat breathing" involves breathing in for four counts, holding for four counts, breathing out for four counts, holding for four counts and repeating.Calming Techniques employing at least one the five senses to relax the body. Appealing to the sense of touch involves soothing sensations that lead to muscle relaxation, the sense of sight using visualization of beautiful scenery or desired outcomes, or using pleasing or relaxing sounds/aromas or even tastes. Sometimes lowering stimulation in one of these areas is helpful.Distraction Techniques are anything that effectively holds your attention for some time until the adrenaline can metabolize.Expression Techniques is expressing anger appropriate to your desired outcome. One example may be to state "I feel ___ when you ___." Exercise or other activity can put the adrenaline to good use.

One way to test whether or not you are calm is the following "prefrontal cortex" test. Becoming calm and thinking clearly can take up to a half hour, unless you are refiring the anger and stress hormones by ruminating on the problem.

Can I see the consequences of my actions?Am I able to appreciate another's point of view?Can I think of a number of options to solve the problem?

Another way to mediate aggression is to change the way you are thinking and either avoid the Trigger or avoid the Thinking Error. If you cannot avoid the Trigger, you would have to avoid the Thinking Error, like the need for control, placing demands on environment, others and ourselves that cannot be delivered, at least in the way we would like. Or we may have to alter the perception of threat and challenge our understanding of the intentions of others. Is their goal really to hurt us, or are they desperate in trying to meet their own needs? One more area to consider is to scale back what we consider the impact of the troubling event. It probably is not as bad as we think it will be. We will recover, so avoid unnecessarily magnifying the threat or underestimating the ability to adapt.

"By the Company We Keep" can trigger anger and adrenaline. Our brains are designed to be responsive to other brains. This is called relationship. We can trigger both the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system by the company we keep. Feeling calm or just being with someone who is calm leads to emotional and behavioral regulation. Alternatively, we may need to separate our brains and differentiate what we think from what another person thinks. We may have to build self-confidence and base our emotions on what we think instead of what someone else is saying. We can still relate to another through empathy even though we don't think or feel the same. This sign of emotional intelligence allows for connection and effective problem-solving.

CPR for Relationships

Calm first for "sober living."

Increase the amount of calm time spent together in the home.Create routine and warn about transitions ahead of time.Expectations should not be too high. Take it step by step.

Practice the Positive.

Positive interactions need to outweigh negative interactions.Spend time, talk, and show affection.Describe their accomplishments throughout the day.

Reinforcement for Long-Term Results

Negative reactions are powerful reinforcers of negative behavior.Long-term disadvantages exist for using fear, threats, and isolation.Make the right behavior get better results for the each person.

Encountering Conflict Tips:

Keep your breathing even. "Getting mad will cost me. I'll lose control."Keep focused. "What is it I have to do? One step at a time."Don't take the other's behavior personally. Base your emotions on what you think, not what the other thinks."The other person may want to provoke me but I'm staying cool."What's the real issue? Keep it in perspective.Acknowledge the other's point. Don't focus on right/wrong. Focus on needs.View the other side as making a request, not a demand. Demands create anger.Make requests, not demands.Explore options and consequences.If there is nothing you can do now, don't react to the adrenaline. Say that you will think about it and come back to it later.

More Reminders (before going off uncorked):

"What's going to happen if...""Is it really worth it?""Is making myself look tough now worth it for what it will cost me?""Will this make a difference in a week?""What might be some things I could do or say?"

Resentment comes from a passive-aggressive wall of anger built brick by brick. Taking down the wall brick by brick is an arduous process and involves explore the emotion behind the wall, a demonstration of remorse, a plan of action that will work, and the completion of the plan before the wall can be taken down. Daily practice of the relaxation skills, cognitive restructuring, and relational skills are integral.

The author Dan Blair, LMFT, LCPC, NCPC is a marriage and family therapist, counselor, and divorce mediator with Blair Counseling and Mediation in Crystal Lake, Illinois.

We offer free articles on peaceful ways to resolve relationship issues to support life-long marriage and mimimize the harm from divorce through divorce mediation. We also address family and personal issues associated with depression, anxiety, anger management, and addiction. Call today to talk with a Christian counselor.

Source: EzineArticles
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Article Tags:

Thinking Error


Adrenaline Management


Nervous System


Relaxation Skills


Perceived Threat



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