Fighting Anger

The following is from an NIE Teacher’s guide titled “Positive Thinking” written by Ginny Swinson with educational consultation by Nancy Gilligan and produced by KRP, Inc. I will be featuring activities from the guide on this blog throughout the year.

Having a positive attitude is important. It’s important not only when it comes to how you view yourself but also when it comes to viewing life in general. Admittedly, thinking in a positive way is not always easy — especially as you deal with life’s ups and downs. Once you start to recognize the positive things that already exist in your life and learn how to see them even in the face of adversity, positive thinking can become YOUR mode of thinking.


Negative feelings don’t just interfere with our happiness and our relationships. They can also interfere with our health. In this lesson, students will recognize the effects negative feelings — especially anger — have on the body. Students will examine alternative responses to emotional situations and will learn to achieve more desirable outcomes.

Ever feel like your stomach is “tied in knots”? Has your head ever felt like it was going to “explode”? Such feelings — though physical in nature — may often be the result of an emotional experience. In fact, one-third of all illnesses are caused by emotional turmoil of some sort. When you are in the grip of anger, fear, resentment, and other negative feelings, your body feels the real effects. That’s why it’s so important to recognize these effects and to take steps not to let them control you — mentally or physically.

One-third of all illnesses are emotional in nature, and another one-third are caused by physical problems. The final third are caused by a combination of emotional and physical problems. Choose six comic strips from today’s newspaper that feature a character with a problem. Decide if the problems illustrated in the strips are caused by: A) something physical, B) a combination of something physical and emotional, or C) something clearly emotional. Figure the percentages for each cause. What conclusions can you draw?

ACTIVITY II                                                                                                       

Can anger contribute to a person’s ill health? Many scientists say “yes.” Research also shows that anger and other feelings such as resentment, hate, grudges, ill will, jealousy, guilt, anger, and irritation are all attitudes that, when they linger, can lead to poor health. Research also shows that a person’s attitude can affect the speed at which a person recuperates from illness. It doesn’t matter whether a person’s negative emotions are experienced slowly over a period of time or whether they are expressed violently all at once. Either way, anger and other negative thoughts can cause the general condition of the body to deteriorate into an unhealthy state.

Study several display ads in today’s newspaper. Look for products that are supposed to make the user feel better or maintain good health. Then, on a separate sheet of paper, create your own ad for an imaginary product that will improve your attitude. Give your product a name and set a price. Be sure to highlight your product’s features in a persuasive and creative way.  

Anger can be one of the most mentally wrenching, physically draining emotions of all.
Sure, there are times when everyone gets angry. But people who are quick to anger or who harbor angry feelings may experience some very unhealthy effects. Just look at some of the things that happen to a person’s body when he or she gets angry:
• Fists tend to clench
• The voice rises in pitch
• Muscles tense
• The body becomes rigid
• Adrenaline shoots through the body
It’s not a pretty sight!
Find a newspaper photo or graphic of an angry person. What are the physical characteristics you notice? Which of the reactions listed above do you recognize? If possible, find out what caused this person to be so angry. What could he or she have done to calm the situation?

ACTIVITY IV                                                                     

You’ve probably heard it said, “Never go to bed angry.” That’s because the sooner you can resolve your angry feelings, the better able you’ll be to put them behind you. Sure, letting go of your anger — especially when someone has really hurt your feelings — isn’t easy. Some people carry their anger around with them for years, causing themselves and others untold physical and emotional problems. But with a little effort, it is possible to “forgive and forget,” as another saying goes.

The daily newspaper offers readers a variety of advice from such columns as “Ask Amy,” “Dear Abby,” and others. Select a letter or two written to these columnists about a subject in which anger is involved. How closely does the advice columnist’s response fit the “forgive and forget” message? What additional advice would you have given?