The Stress and Aggression Reaction

We’ve all been there. The guy in front of us in traffic is an absolute idiot and veers into our lane almost wiping out the rear passenger door of our car. Or maybe that incompetent coworker still hasn’t sent you that spreadsheet you’ve asked for three times this week. Or maybe your kid spills their food all over that brand new couch you just dropped a grand on. Or your wife comes home with fourteen new shopping bags even though rent is due tomorrow. Frustration is part of the human condition, we all face it, and it’s too familiar to us all. It’s not exactly a joyous condition, and that is no one first pick emotion, however, it’s one we all know deep down in the fiery pit of our stomach.

This fiery familiarity is so distinctive and impactful and it can feel like a burning electric surge infiltrating the veins and crevices of our minds at times even penetrating our stomachs and limbs. However, this is not what is going on in our minds. According to, “When we get angry, the heart rate, arterial tension and testosterone production increases, cortisol (the stress hormone) decreases, and the left hemisphere of the brain becomes more stimulated.” These reactions can cause us to say and do things that are not acceptable, not rational, or not respectable and once we calm down we are forced to face the consequences of these actions.

Being human, we get to experience a spectrum of emotions. It is one of the most beautiful parts of this thing called life. Sadness, joy, humor, pain, depression, angst, the list goes on. However, the opportunity to experience all life has to offer is ever sobering as it is exciting, feeling some emotions for prolonged periods is not beneficial to us. Feeling anger, rage, stress, and aggression play a key part in allowing us to process life’s moments, but the outcome of venting these can be detrimental to our personal and professional lives. Another key aspect of the human condition is the opportunity for betterment. We can take experiences and allow them to make us better. A better businessman, a better cook, a better doctor, a better sister, a better father, a better friend, but most importantly a better human.

To do so, we must come to the sobering reality that we are not perfect. We are going to fall and stumble, hurt others, and get hurt ourselves. We need to have a rationally realistic perspective of our actions to be able to condone the necessary change. Once this idea is settled in we can take action to control the destructive wildfire that is stress and anger. We can control those nerve pathways and regain our focus. One of the best ways to do this is by adding intentionality into our self-care. An awesome tool to achieve this is the “forbrain machine”. Forbrain is a device that “trains the brain to be more attentive improving not only attention but auditory processing and sensory integration.” ( Being aware of what we are saying, how we are saying it and when we are choosing those actions is an amazing tool for controlling the stress response.

Another way to do so is by practicing active awareness. Being aware of our mental state can help us avoid walking into triggers and can allow us to feel the stress response coming on so we can use tools and awareness to be more mindful and give us back some power in how we decide to act in situations. Instead of cursing out that driver, we can take a deep breath to calm ourselves down. Instead of being disrespectful toward a coworker, we can treat them with grace allowing us to be the bigger person and not self incriminate by being passive-aggressive and allowing us to avoid an all-consuming rage. Or not be sleeping on the couch when your spouse comes home with a new wardrobe when rent is due. Tools used in the fennsystem will allow you to avoid and derail extended aggression before your extended aggression derails you.

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