Do you get angry? Of course, you do. At least, of…
“I can’t control my temper.”
Have you ever heard yourself say those words? If so, you may have an anger management problem.
First, let us dispel that myth for you. You can control your temper. Only a tiny percentage of people actually have a disorder that keeps them from controlling their temper. For the rest of us, controlling anger is about learning the skills and tools we need to manage our feelings.
It helps the people around us, because it can feel threatening, frightening, or just unpleasant to be around someone who does not control their temper. It also helps us. When you let anger get the better of you, you can have problems with blood pressure and stress that can take a physical toll on your body. Uncontrolled anger can also result in relationship problems, conflict at work, and even legal troubles.
Here are some anger management tools to practice.
- Get exercise. Anger is weird because it increases your stress, but a tantrum can feel like a valve releasing stored stress. Get real exercise on a consistent basis and give your body a healthy way to get rid of some of that stress.
- Avoid drinking to excess. If you have an anger management issue, you want to be in control of your behavior. Avoiding drinking to excess or using recreational drugs while you are working on the issue.
- Know your triggers. What things really set you off? Are you a driver who gets road rage when someone cuts you off, a parent who goes ballistic when a teen rolls their eyes, or a spouse who cannot handle it when your partner drops the ball? Knowing your triggers is the first step to changing how you respond to them.
- Plan to be upset. Bad things are going to happen. Sometimes anger is the result of reality not meeting our expectations. Knowing that bad things will happen helps you plan ahead for them. How can you avoid being upset? If traffic is your trigger, leave 10 minutes early so you do not have the added stress of being late. If you cannot avoid being upset, how can you respond better in the moment.
- Count to ten. This may seem trite, but things said or done in anger can have lasting repercussions. Give yourself time to cool down.
- Walk away. If there is a risk that your anger could turn to violence, walk away. There is no fight worth having that results in your hitting your kids, your partner, a coworker, or even a stranger. Just walk away if you ever feel like the risk of violence is imminent.
- Try to laugh at the situation. Screaming and yelling might reduce your tension, but so does laughter. Try to see the humor in a situation and give yourself permission to laugh, even if things are terrible.
- Get help. In an ideal world, we would all learn anger management skills as children. We do not live in that world. If you feel like your anger is controlling you, or if your anger is jeopardizing your relationships or happiness, get help. Greater Essex Counseling Services has an anger management program that can help you take back control.