Strategies in anger management allow you to control and safely express your anger instead of letting it control you. Anger, which can vary from mild and fleeting irritation to full-blown rage, is a regular emotion. The physical changes that accompany anger – such as that strong beating heart and rush of adrenaline – and the aggression that it evokes may be useful defence mechanisms and a powerful survival aid. Anger only becomes detrimental when you are experiencing it more often than not, and when you react to it with frightening violence and harmful behaviour. If you are unsure whether you could benefit from anger management or not, consider the following questions:
- Are you angry or irritated almost all of the time?
- Do you frequently lash out at people?
- Has your anger resulted in the physical harm of yourself or others?
- Are your relationships, career, and overall happiness affected by your anger?
- Have you been told by strangers or loved ones that you need help controlling your anger?
If you answer yes to any or all of these questions, you should consider anger management. Anger management begins with a foundation of inner awareness – you are encouraged to discover what triggers your anger and the emotions that underlie it. Once you understand this, you can develop healthier ways to minimise your anger, and to deal with it more appropriately when it comes up. While anger management can help you to reduce the frequency and intensity of your anger episodes, the focus is not on getting rid of your anger, but on learning how to stay calm.
Techniques Used for Anger Management
- Calming down
- Breathe deeply and count to ten before you lash out. Re-evaluate your thoughts and feelings after this. Still want to punch someone? Do it again.
- Make lifestyle changes to reduce overall stress and improve your health. Anger management is as much about learning how to keep calm in the moment you want to do something reckless, as it is about being calmer in general. A regular exercise regimen will dispel some of that pent up anger and adrenaline, and will release all of your happy hormones so that you are less likely to get angry. Yoga, in particular, is wonderful for relaxing your mind and body.
- Imagine yourself in your happy place and visualise yourself releasing all of the negative energy stored inside of you.
- Get your ‘me-time’. If you’re stressed out because you don’t have a moment to think and breathe on your own, then you’re more likely to get angry at the small things, and making time for yourself should be a priority.
- Change your thought patterns
- It takes time and discipline to change the way you think, but after a while it becomes habit. The first thing you need to do when you feel angry and want to react aggressively is to ask yourself, ‘Is this a big thing? Does it really affect me?’
- Recognise that lashing out is going to make you and everyone else feel worse, not better. Consider what you want to do, and then ask yourself if the situation will be improved after your actions.
- Be logical. Anger tends to make one irrational and to exaggerate the severity of a situation. Recognise that it is probably not as bad as it seems.
- Stop to think before you react
- Instead of reacting in the heat of the moment, slow down and think about what you want to say and how you want to say it.
- Listen to what others have to say before you just assume what they’re thinking.
- Avoid your triggers
- While you can’t turn your entire life into one big game of avoidance just so that you won’t get angry (or won’t get into a fight if you do), sometimes a change of environment is just what you need. If you’ve realised that the exact same things or people are the cause of your anger, then avoid those, or at least minimise the frequency that you’re around them.
If you have tried the above techniques without success it may be time to consider visiting an expert in anger management. Contact Louw Alberts, psychologist and Councillor in Centurion, for more information