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November 23, 2017

Punching the Pillow: A good way to relieve anger and stress?

I donít know how many times I have heard someone suggest that if you are feeling stressed or angry, you should help to release this pressure by punching a pillow. If I took anything away from my 4 years of collegiate study in the field of psychology, I learned that this is a terrible idea and one of the worst ways to cope with negative emotions.

Lashing out is never a way to rid yourself of negative emotions. On the contrary, when you satisfy a negative emotion or thought you will associate the violent action with a feeling of relief and release. This turns into a reward system where you feel like you are being rewarded for striking out. With many people, this escalates and can easily lead to the solving of your internal problems through violence against pets or other people.

It may be a lot more work, but working through your emotional turmoil without ever using physical violence is much healthier. I have known many patients of psychology who turn to physical exercise to alleviate their stress and this is an action I can condone. I am not talking about hitting the leather heavy bags in a boxing gym.

That brings up an interesting question. How do boxers practice their favorite sport without turning into violent and dangerous individuals who use violence as an answer to any problem? Training is the simplest answer. Any martial art, and boxing is indeed a martial art, will teach you to be in control of your actions and to try and avoid anger. Anger causes you to lose control and your decisions will be dulled or swayed by it. This is why there is so much more to boxing than hitting the leather heavy bags and having a trainer is so important. For the rest of us, psychologists and counselors are our personal trainers. If you need to get your anger under control, donít turn to violence. Turn to the help of others. You need to work through your anger with rational thinking and calming exercises rather than physical aggression.