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  • Karen McPhail, RN, MSN

Anger Management 101 - Helpful Guidelines!

Anger Management is a more common challenge than most people realize or have realized until perhaps recently when they have become quarantined and socially distanced due to our recent public health challenges!!! So what can one do to better manage anger? How can an individual stop the dysfunction cycle and help a loved one in forming functional and healthy communication techniques? Below we will provide some guidelines for beginning this process, as it is a process and takes time!

Throughout our lifetime we experience many emotions.  Anger however, is a strong emotion and if not controlled it can negatively impact an individuals overall physical and emotional health as well as significantly effect and erode long term relationships.  Everyone gets angry from time to time, but it is how one manages this emotion that is important. When anger starts to consume you, effect the lives of others, and begin to impact your daily life these are signs that it is time to make some significant changes and perhaps seek guidance.  

So how can one control anger and not project emotions onto others?

1. Start by acknowledging your behavior and the need for positive change.  Be true to yourself.  Release any issues from the past and try to move forward fresh and with positive outlook!  Holding onto past anger and resentment will prevent change and positive interactions to occur in the future.  Release, embrace forgiveness for yourself and others, and embrace change!  This is the first step in the process!  Consider seeking out additional support through counseling and support groups in your area, especially if you anger is frequent, difficult to control, and effecting daily functioning and the lives of others.  

2.  Get tuned in.  Be aware of your reactions and communication always when speaking.  Before speaking think about what you are saying and the purpose for the communication!  Is it a positive focus or intent? If not change the direction of your communication to meet this goal.  Think about what you want to say, accomplish, and convey before speaking.  This takes practice as when we begin to be emotional we often act before thinking.  Changing this pattern consistently will make effective communication easier over time. It is ok to stop in the middle of communicating and tell the individual that you need a moment to think or to take a break to process, to get your emotions under control, and then move forward.   Show compassion for yourself and others throughout offering a fair and balance environment for communicating.  No one is more important or less important in these situations!  

3.  If upset or feeling emotions escalate always step away from the situation to collect your thoughts in a productive manner and then move forward once emotions are under control.  Practice relaxation techniques, deep breathing and/ or visual imagery consistently so that you can always go to these as a rescue technique when under stress.  Alternate nostril breathing and simple grounded meditation can be effective.  Also visual imagery by imagining a safe, happy, or a relaxing place can help, or having a meditation mantra to repeat that is calming, such as “I am happy, I am peaceful, I am grounded, I am balanced.” You might also add music to your day to relax and set a happy peaceful culture, or to help in beginning to release emotions through a journal or another areas— the key being whatever makes you feel safe, calm and relaxed.  Reach out if you need assistance with this.  If you have the same music for relaxation daily it will help during rescue times of stress to quickly stimulate or trigger comfort. Repetition is key...

4.  When speaking with someone about a conflict or issue express your feelings in a productive and calm manner.  Do not attempt to be confrontational by posturing, standing over the individual when speaking, or by invading their personal space in any manner; set an environment for level, equal communication. Do not try to take control or prove that you are right, that is not the goal ever.  The goal is to value each other and find common ground for everyone valuing, supporting feelings along the way.  State how you feel simply and calmly without placing blame of finger pointing, keep focused on the one problem at hand for resolution and do not stray off point, valuing their feelings again along the way. Do not bring up outside areas or other issues; this will lead to escalation.  Be mindful of language -  use “I" when communicating and not “you”.  For example, consider saying, “I feel upset and sad when the laundry is not done and left for me to do each day" instead of "You never help with the laundry."Take a solutions approach always!  Again, stay focused on the issue at hand and do not bring up the past or other areas!  

5.  Try to prevent and control triggers for anger!  Work on preventing and controlling daily.  Anger will not make anything better and can lead to more issues, more anger, and apprehension!  Set parameters that are realistic for things in your life so that you can avoid disappointment and stress. Prevent yourself from focusing on what makes you mad and focus on what can be done to make you happy!  For example- If your husband is late for dinner every night and it makes you angry, then plan to not have a family dinner or only dine together on non work days.   Form functional behaviors and patterns that do not trigger anger! Be realistic with exceptions and set up a process that works for all.  All problems can be worked through and solutions can always be found.  

6.  Make efforts to minimize and control outside stress, as many individuals project this in the form of anger onto others.  Feel good about you and value yourself always. Show compassion to yourself and learn from any difficulties in the past rather than dwelling on them and allowing them to consume you and effect your self esteem.  Have some time just for you to have a massage, exercise, take a walk, pint or draw, etc. Do what speaks to you and helps to allow personal expression and the  release of tension. Have written reminders in your office, home etc to keep you on track!  Make a list of things that you like about yourself and have it in a central place as a reminder! 

7.  Control your pace.  Do not let the world take you off of your path!  Even when busy it is important to take simple breaks to stop, close your eyes and breathe. Try to form a habit of always taking at least a short lunch break or time out for even 5 minutes to close your eyes, breathe slowly and relax especially when feeing stressed or rushed!  Take back control over the pace and tension!  A few moments of controlled, quiet time can help to reduce tensions and escalation!  In doing so you will be better prepared to manage the rest of your day and other issues without immediately triggering anger and other gut emotions!  Also try to embrace humor and laughter as a part of your day!  Lighten the mood!  However, be mindful of sarcasm as not usually productive. Laughter and a less a serious approach will always bode well!  

Reach out via our contacts tab if you need additional guidance or support in moving forward as we are here to help! 

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