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How Do I Manage My Anger? 

Anger is a natural human emotion that developed in humans to help attack a threat. Expressed in all people in different ways, anger can take a toll on mental and physical health. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), anger is a natural stimulus for internal thoughts about perceived threats. These threats may be real or imagined, and could stem from trauma or past experiences. 

For a person who does not have the life skills to manage their anger, they may feel that they are angry all the time or that the world is out to get them. Learning to manage anger can show significant improvements in one’s decision-making, mental health, and overall happiness. 

Types of Anger

Anger is a common emotion that covers a lot of ground with terms to define different types of anger. Rage is one of the higher levels of anger, and it is associated with yelling or physical acts of anger. Passive-aggressive behavior represents a type of anger that will lead to passive-aggressive actions, like leaving someone out on purpose or other microaggressions. Anger can even be a reaction as part of the grieving process, as it is one of the steps that one goes through in the process of accepting loss.  

While anger is a normal response to a threat, some people may be unable to control their anger and become a danger to themselves and others. Some people scare themselves with their anger. Other people have hurt people or found themselves doing something physically destructive to property or a person. It is not okay to act this way, even when angry. However, there are strategies to change this behavior and manage anger. 

Anger Management Strategies

NIH reports that there are three main categories for controlling anger: suppression, expression, and intervention. Suppression is the act of thoughtfully repressing anger and stopping oneself from reacting. Expression is when one talks through angry feelings and lets out those expressions. Intervention seeks to reduce anger by changing the behavior and learning to react differently. 

Suppression strategies include:

  • Calming yourself through active meditation
  • Counting backward from ten before you react. If the first round doesn’t help, try again
  • Verbalize that you need a minute, then return to the situation when you are calm
  • Stay in the present moment and think of things that are going right in the present moment
  • Remember that your actions have consequences and take a moment to think about them

Expression strategies can include:

  • Exercising to get out some anger and aggression
  • Talking to a therapist or trusted person about what’s bothering you
  • Using “I” statements and remember what you can control as you work through a solution
  • Asking someone for help. If there are others who can help you deal with certain triggers or situations, let them know how they can help

Intervention strategies can include:

  • Using humor to diffuse the situation for yourself and others
  • Removing yourself from the situation or the environment that makes you angry
  • Skip anger and try problem-solving with yourself, or others around you
  • Try to understand why you are angry. What triggers you? How can you stop it? Take responsibility for how you can diffuse these situations before they happen. 
  • Don’t hold a grudge. Do what you can to forgive and work it out, or set a boundary and end a triggering or toxic relationship

In-the-Moment Intervention Tool

NIH lists a tool for intervening between your anger and a negative reaction. After a reaction, use this series of questions and answer them honestly and openly. 

  • What was the first sign that I was angry? 
  • What triggered my anger? 
  • How did I respond to this event?
  • What did I do well when I responded to my anger this time? 
  • What will I do better next time this event occurs?

When experiencing anger, continue to work through the questions above and compare the responses. Over time, improvement will be shown in future responses. This gives the ability to identify how to react differently to certain triggers or avoid them completely. In working through various anger experiences, learning how to control these responses and implement new strategies for healthier behaviors can become a reality. 

Health Effects of Anger

Unresolved or chronic anger can lead to a series of health effects. Heart disease and other heart-related conditions are the most common. This is because anger and stress can increase heart rate, raise blood pressure, and even create breathing or respiratory issues. Chronic anger can also cause mental health disorders like acute stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, intermittent explosive disorder (bursts of unmitigated anger), anger issues, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and more. 

Talking to a doctor or therapist about anger can help to develop strategies for anger management that can help to release some of the tension that anger can cause. 

Anger is a natural emotion and that everyone experiences from time to time. If your anger is creating situations that are violent, physically dangerous, or out of control, your anger is going too far. It’s time for help to intervene and for you to develop new strategies for anger management. If you’re struggling with anger, mental health issues, or substance abuse, call us at RECO Intensive. At RECO Intensive, we understand that anger and substance abuse can spiral out of control and lead to a great deal of stress and dysfunction. Our professional staff and experienced alumni are here to create a treatment plan completely catered to you and your needs. We offer a myriad of therapies, including cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and individual therapy. For those looking to heal relationships strained by anger, we also offer family and couples therapy. Call RECO Intensive today at (561) 464-6533. Let’s get back to a brighter future. 

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