Controlling Your Anger

Better minds better living with Dr. Yansie Rolston Monday, August 7 2017

According to MIND UK, anger is a healthy human emotion in response to a real or perceived threat of being attacked, deceived, frustrated or treated unfairly. It’s also an emotion that is vital for survival by helping us to identify and defend ourselves from harmful situations and things, and motivating the building of defences against dangers. For example, it can inspire you into activism and advocacy as a way of assertively expressing emotions against social injustices. But there are also times when it can become out of control and destructive.

We all get angry at times and it can even be a reaction to grief, symptom of a mental health challenge or contribute to it, and the way in which it manifest can vary from mild vexation expressed as a tut or steups to extreme rage culminating in physical violence.

Most people would have witnessed or may even be guilty themselves of venting anger in a negative way to the point where it is expressed as degrading or obscene language, shouting, screaming, violence or excessive moodiness, sulking, isolating socially, self-loathing, self-harm or being physically sick.

Such scenarios can be very frightening for both the aggressor and those witnessing the reaction. But that is not to say anger ought to be repressed, because research indicates that internalising anger can have negative mental and physical consequences and passive aggression.

But there are some people who are prone to experiencing intense anger and struggle with their reactions.

In such instances, they could benefit from support to develop coping strategies to aid calmness and encourage rational thoughts.

When anger arises, it can be helpful to acknowledge the emotion, accept that you are angry, be mindful not to say or do things that will be regretted, and use a strategy to decrease the level and intensity of the feelings. Of course, there are times when that is easier said than done, but initial reactions can go a long way in diffusing escalating anger.

A useful tip will be to focus on breathing slowly, because when the body is fired up with intense anger, breathing becomes shallow and rapid, heart rate quickens, adrenalin increases, blood pressure goes up, the body tenses, the jaw and fists starts to clench. Relaxing the muscles and releasing the tension helps bring the body back to a less heightened state or arousal. Distraction also helps for example counting from one to ten or to 100, repeating a nursery rhyme, listening to music, and if possible getting away from the source of the hostility.

It’s also a good idea to contextualise the issues causing the anger – as humans we are all capable of misinterpreting comments and situations, so where possible mull it over before reacting. It could be that the situation was unintentional or may have nothing at all to do with you. Remember that sometimes people become moody and lash out at the person nearest and dearest to them when dealing with stressful situations, but that does not mean they intend to hurt you. At times like that they could probably benefit from a kind listening ear.

These days, social media and technology has made it too easy to vent impulsively. How many times have you sent off a text or email in the heat of the moment and then regret it? It’s ok to write the message because that helps release some of the internal frustration, but hesitate before sending it.

Keep it and re-read it once you have calmed down and then make the decision what to do with it.

MIND UK advises that if you think about how to manage your anger when you’re feeling calmer, you can avoid feeling overwhelmed by it. You can: • learn your triggers • examine your thought patterns • develop your communication skills • look at your lifestyle A safe productive outcome during a period of anger would be finding a solution that is acceptable and respectable. Many times, in situations it is about compromise because not every battle can be won.

“Choose your battles wisely, after all, life isn’t measured by how many times you stood up to fight. It’s not winning battles that makes you happy, but it’s how many times you turned away and chose to consider a better direction. Life is too short to spend it warring. Fight only the most important ones, let the rest go,” says C JoyBell C Dr Yansie Rolston FRSA is a UK-based disability and mental health specialist advisor. She is a social strategist and trainer who works internationally at various levels of government, business and civil society.

Contact her at yr@efficacyeva.com

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