Percussive Therapy can be quite an effective way to let off steam. Unfortunately, this often leads to property damage: destroyed walls, mirrors, or doors are just a few examples. However, this is not the case with the Distressed Woodchopping.
By angrily smashing down an axe on wood the character is just doing yard work that eventually has to be done anyways. Because the character who chops wood is doing meaningful work, it's also a Sub-Trope of Cope by Creating and especially Cathartic Chores. It can overlap with Working Out Their Emotions. We're likely to see this trope in works set in the countryside, villages, farms, cottages and similar settings.
May be done by the Mighty Lumberjack and other manly men. Oftentimes the character will be a Hunk who chops the wood in anger to show off his glorious masculinity. If his shirt is opened or if he's shirtless entirely, he's most likely a Mr. Fanservice. When played for male fanservice, it also overlaps with Hot Men at Work.
- In 2018, GEICO has a commercial where a couple was chopping logs with karate to deal with the stress of moving to a new house.
- In Sword Art Online, the Alicization arc has Eugeo being assigned to be a woodcutter as his Calling and the tree he's supposed to cut down is the Gigas Cedar (which hasn't been able to be cut down for over 300 years of woodsmen hacking away at it). After getting traumatized by Alice getting kidnapped, which he views as My Greatest Failure, he channeled his grief into spending the rest of his life hacking away at the impossible task, until Kirito got dropped into the Underworld and meets him and not only pulls him out of his funk, but eventually devises a more efficient way to get the tree cut.
- Seven Missionaries: Early in the comic, it's established that brother Conan deals with his anger issues by chopping wood whenever he feels the urge to kill something (such as his fellow monks' openly sacrilegious behavior or the mockery of their Viking captors). When a ransom exchange on a beach goes wrong, Conan saves the day by grabbing an axe and going berserk, with his brother monks managing to channel his fury by pointing out the beached ships are made of wood, allowing them to escape as he clears a path.
- In Avengers: Age of Ultron, the team gets compromised during a mission where Scarlet Witch shows almost all team members nightmare visions of their worst fears. The Avengers retreat to Clint Barton's farm, where Steve Rogers and Tony Stark start chopping wood to cool down. Steve's Super Strength means he accumulates a much larger pile than Tony, and then the argument that inflames between the two as they work results in Steve's crescendo of ripping a log in two down the grain with his bare hands. Tony ends the argument trying to defend his comparatively inadequate pile.
- The fifth Friday the 13th film, A New Beginning, opens with a halfway house resident named Vic chopping wood in an obsessive and almost deranged fashion while being pestered by another resident named Joey. Vic quickly flies into a rage and axes Joey.
- The French movie Qu'est-ce qu'on a fait au Bon Dieu has its white Catholic upper-class protagonist deal with the stress of a fourth non-white son-in-law (the fact at least this one will be Catholic doesn't help) by chopping wood... and as the movie goes on, upgrades to chainsawing the trees on his property.
- In The Amityville Horror (1979), as life in the new house gets progressively more strained, George starts spending more time in the backyard, chopping wood manically and obsessively.
- The VVitch: The family got banished from their village and set up a family farm on the edge of the woods. William (the father) has a habit of going to chop wood when he's frustrated to relieve stress. Thomasin eventually gives him "The Reason You Suck" Speech, in that he's a failure as a farmer and hunter; and in fact can only chop wood. Leads to Death by Irony, after being gored by Black Phillip, he gets crushed/buried by his own wood pile.
- The Belgariad: Invoked in the Malloreon sequel series. When Ce'Nedra goes into labour, Polgara takes one look at her Panicky Expectant Father Garion and tells him to go chop some wood to keep his wife warm. His fugue state ends sometime after he's collected two cords of firewood and Ce'Nedra has safely delivered.
- Sense and Sensibility: In the 2008 miniseries, Edward Ferrars chops wood dressed in a thin white shirt in the rain to vent his frustration when he's staying at the Dashwoods. He's agitated because Love Hurts. He's torn between an obligation of his first engagement and his growing admiration and love for Elinor.
- In Game of Thrones, we see Sandor Clegane chopping wood in Season 6 in his first appearance since Season 4. While it's clear he's done more than just chop wood, we see him first doing this as he has a conversation with Septon Ray, and Ray points out that Sandor swings the axe at the wood like he wants to swing it at a person. They need the wood because they're building a place of worship.
- Implied in the Murder, She Wrote episode "The Sins of Castle Cove". Jessica and Sheriff Metzger come to question the local butcher, Tim Mulligan, about the death of his mistress. During the beginning of the conversation, Mulligan chops a block of wood in half, and another split block lies on the ground. He also sounds upset as he denies hurting her.
- In the NCIS episode "Day in Court", Ellie finds out that Jake has been cheating on her, and the episode ends with her taking a leave of absence from NCIS and going to her familys farm in Oklahoma so she can sort out her emotions over the infidelity. The first time we see Ellie during the next episode, she's chopping up several logs into wood chunks to fuel the house's furnace.
Bishops mother: (Staring at the wood pile Ellie made) Wow. Got enough kindling there for five winters.
- Zivot na zamku (Life in Chateau): When Premek hears his teenage daughter is pregnant, doesn't know who the father isnote and wants to keep the baby, he yells at her and the whole family. He starts walking about angrily and yelling some more. Still visibly angry, he strokes his daughter's hair and tells her they'll all do whatever she wants. He then heads down to the cellar of the chateau and starts chopping wood. Moments later, he comes back and tells her he loves her. Still later, he drinks wine with his friend and he tearfully complains that he doesn't even know the guy's name and says he really wants to smash his face in.
- Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman: When Sully thinks his love Michaela is about to return to her long-lost fiance David, he's seen angrily chopping wood with a huge axe.
- After "Here Lies the Abyss" in Dragon Age: Inquisition, Blackwall is found chopping wood outside the stables to vent his frustration about what the heroes learned during the quest.
- In Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight, in one event you go into Haru's room with her and Ryuji. You notices a pile of wood on her veranda, and she explains that chopping wood is her way of de-stressing. This also explains why she uses axes as her Weapon of Choice in the base game.
- Dad: In "Dad's Chores", Dad is about to perform his job of chopping wood. At first he's calm, but when an ax suddenly appears in his hand, his thoughts go wild and he starts chopping the wood in anger, thinking about his younger, more attractive, more masculine neighbor, who was shown cutting wood earlier in the series, and who his wife is heavily implied to be attracted to.
- The Simpsons: In "Marge the Lumberjill", Marge takes out her frustrations by chopping a fallen tree branch that Homer failed to chop up. Patty is impressed and calls a friend of hers who is a professional lumber sport competitor, and she invites Marge to join her in competition.