Anger is a completely normal, usually healthy, human emotion, according to the American Psychological Association. But when it is out of control and destructive, it can lead to problems---problems at work, in personal relationships, and in the overall quality of your life. The sense of being unable to bridle an oncoming storm can make you feel doubly vulnerable. There are, however, known coping skills for anger management. Let's look at a few of them:
Know Your Warning Signs: Anger warning signs are the clues your body gives that your anger-level is starting to grow. Many of the signs, like a raised voice and aggressive language, are easy to spot and relatively universal. Other signs may be more unique to you: sweating, turning red, pacing, getting a headache or stomach ache. When you learn to spot your warning signs, you can address your anger while it is still controllable.
Be Aware of Triggers: Anger triggers are the things that set you off. Trigger behaviors usually precede and precipitate a violent outburst and can be either verbal or nonverbal. They usually bring up feelings of abandonment, embarrassment or rejection. Knowing your triggers, and being cautious around them, will reduce the likelihood of the anger getting out of control. Consider these steps:
• Create a list of your triggers and review them periodically. Reviewing them keeps them fresh in your mind, increasing the chance that you notice them--and can apply the brakes before you have an outburst.
• Keep a log of your angry episodes---at least long enough to discover the common triggers. What was happening just before you got angry? Were you hungry, tired or stressed? Had you been drinking? How did you react, and did your reactions change as the event continued? What were your thoughts and feelings before, during and after an episode?
• Often, the best way to deal with a trigger is to avoid it. This might mean making changes to your lifestyle, relationships or daily routine.
• Because it isn't always possible to avoid triggers, have a plan in place for when you must face them. For example, avoid touchy conversations when you are tired, hungry upset or have been drinking.
Use Diversions: If you recognize a potential anger outburst on the horizon, a relatively easy tool to prevent it is, to divert yourself: go for a walk or to the gym, listen to music, call a friend, or run an errand. If a conversation is triggering an angry response, try to excuse yourself before it becomes explosive. The goal of a diversion is to buy yourself time to cool off. If you can distract yourself for as little as 30 minutes, you'll have a better chance of dealing with your anger in a healthy way. Remember, you can always return to the source of your anger later. You are just setting the problem aside for now.
Take a Time-out: Time-outs are not just for kids! They are a great coping tool for adults, especially in familial relationships. When you take a time-out, both individuals agree to walk away from the problem temporarily, and return once you have both had time to cool down.
• Plan ahead with your partner how time-outs will work.
• Agree to move into different rooms or spaces and use diversions to break the tension.
• Return to the problem in 30 minutes (or 60 minutes if extra time is needed). Important problems should not be ignored.
If you have any further questions on anger management, contact COPE at firstname.lastname@example.org.