Tuesday, 19 May 2015

How to cope with anger - part two

In part one of this article I looked at what anger is, how it relates to stress, and how recognising unhelpful thinking patterns can help you to interrupt your anger before it really gets the upper hand. Here in part two, I'm going to look at some coping strategies that will help you get the better of your anger, and include some links to useful free resources. 

Releasing anger appropriately

Sometimes we feel angry about something but can't express it in the relevant situation, so we re-direct that feeling onto something else which feels 'safer'. In the example I used in part one we may not feel we can confront the boss in case he sacks us, so we go home feeling angry and frustrated and release that feeling onto our family. 

Although this kind of 'emotional pass the parcel' is sometimes understandable it's very unfair and can destroy relationships. You need to find a safe outlet for your anger which does not involve taking it out on other people. The classic answers are sports such as boxing, or martial arts. The latter are especially good since good classes also teach elements of relaxation and self control. If these are 'not your thing' consider other options such as a punch-bag in the garage, punching cushions, ripping up newspapers or phone directories, writing down everything you’d like to have said and felt unable to say then destroying the paper.

Assertiveness training can help with this kind of anger as it shows you a way of sticking up for yourself effectively and express your feelings without becoming verbally or physically aggressive.  Get my free information sheet here .

Keep track of your anger

Whatever the cause of your anger it’s often useful to keep an anger diary. Keep a note  of what sets off your anger, what you were thinking at the time and how strong your anger was. Although it’s not possible to actually measure this you can rate it on a scale of one to ten, with one being 'slightly irritated' and ten being completely out of control. This will help you start to analyze your thoughts, and also to see where your danger zones are so you can avoid them till you learn to control your anger, or at least enter them more prepared. I can send you an anger diary if you message me via this page. 

Coping strategies for anger

Learn some deep breathing exercises when you are calm so you can use them if you feel your anger rising. These will help keep your body relaxed, which is incompatible with strong anger, and act as a distraction technique to calm your thinking. Again, there is a free information sheet to download on my website.

The 'walkaway' technique is one of the most effective but can be hard to learn. Walking away can be done symbolically, by calmly refusing to participate in a conversation which is getting heated, or politely asking someone to discontinue a difficult topic. It can also be done literally by physically removing yourself from a situation.

Some angry people see walking away as 'backing down' or 'letting the other person get the last word' but in fact it’s a way of winning. When you walk away you are refusing to allow yourself to be controlled, either by your anger or the other person (who may see you as an 'easy target' because in the past you've lost control when provoked).

It gives you breathing space to use the techniques in these posts and to plan a reasonable and proportional way of dealing with the situation.
 
Missed part one of this article? Find it here.
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Author: is a professional stress management coach, specialising in working with individuals and smaller employers to minimise stress and maximise feeling in control.Debbie is has also written about helping people with IBS in the Hypnotherapy Handbook which is available from Amazon.co.uk.
Find out more about Debbie's services on www.yorkshirestressmanagement.com  or phone 01977 678593

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