How do you know when you are angry?
All of us have symptoms of anger; physical and mental signs that tell us we are angry.
Some symptoms of anger may include but not limited to:
- Fast heart beat
- Clenched jaws/fists
- Fast breathing
- Stomach aches
- Tense muscles
- Red face
Managing our anger like other emotions can be difficult. Sometimes we don’t realize we are acting in a certain way, or if we do acknowledge the emotion we don’t see the behavior associated with it as being negative. But anger is an emotion and can be a signal that we feel we are being treated unfairly. Our feelings are neither right nor wrong. It is okay to feel anger. Actions too can be right or wrong when we are angry, for example it is not okay to hurt ourselves, others or property when we feel angry. It is good though to have a calm discussion about why we are feeling angry.
So how can we deal with anger and act in healthy ways? We can start by:
- Making a plan. Think of a situation when you were angry. Describe (write down) how you would like to react in the future to this situation.
- In the plan included the following:
- What negative behavior would you most like to avoid when angry?
- What will you do instead of getting angry?
- What will you do when you start to experience the early warning signs of anger?
- How will you handle situations when you feel very angry?
- Now think about how you usually react when you feel angry. Write it down.
- Think about the last time you reacted in an unhealthy or negative way to anger. What happened right before you got angry?
- How did you react?
- How did you feel after you reacted?
- What could you have done instead?
- What would happen if you were to react in a more positive way?
What are some more positive ways to react to anger?
- Recognize anger – know when you are angry and what makes you angry.
- Walk away – take a break and cool off. Walking away physically and emotionally can give you the psychological break needed to clear our heads.
- Exercise – doing something physical can help lessen the emotional response and help “cool” us down. Go for a run, bike ride or lift some weights.
- Talk to someone who you are not feeling angry with.
- Distract yourself – find something else to do, preferably something you find relaxing. Some examples could be reading, watching TV, listening to music or playing a video game.
- Take ten deep breaths. This helps you calm down and relax by breathing more deeply and stops us from reacting automatically.
- Write/journal about it. Get your feelings out on paper. This prevents you from saying something to a person that you may later regret.
- Take a break and come back and deal with the situation later when you are feeling calm. This gives you an opportunity to regroup and think more positively.
Utilizing one or more of these methods helps us to react in a more positive way to anger and helps us experiment with new methods to manage our anger. Counselling in conjunction with these methods can provide a supportive environment to help you work through your feelings of anger.