Ask Dr. Conte: Blowing Your Top – Can Indulging Your Anger Help Relieve Stress?

frustration, man in a black sweater tearing hair out in anger. portrait on gray background

Do you think a short burst of non-violent anger on occasion is a positive thing as a stress reliever?


Great question. The short answer is yes; but let me replace the words “non-violent anger” with “pent-up energy,” and let me explain why it’s important to let it out by telling you about ducks.

If you have ever watched two ducks fighting on a pond, you will see something fascinating. After the ducks are finished fighting and they move in different directions away from each other, they each will rapidly flap their wings. To me, it looks as if they are getting out the excess adrenaline and cortisol that likely flooded their bodies during the fight. In other words, they seem to be using short bursts of (now) non-violent physical activity to rid themselves of the built-up physical stress. 

So, by all means, flap your wings (metaphorically speaking; that is, of course, unless you’re one of my duck readers, in which case, I mean it literally). In other words: find a way to let out pent up emotions in a healthy, non-violent way; and consider exercise as an effective way to do that. Regular exercise is probably one of the best ways to get out energy in a healthy way, so, as long as your doctor says it’s okay, I would definitely recommend following a balanced, healthy exercise routine. The more time that you can create for physical exercise, the more opportunities you will give yourself to flap your metaphorical wings.