Want a quick way to control your anger? Try to manage your stress.
For those who struggle with controlling their anger, stress is the largest indicator that an outburst could be near. Stress is defined by The American Institute of Stress as, “a condition or feeling experienced when a person perceives that demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilize.” While not all stress is unhealthy, when the demands of life become too much, stress (and its impact), can quickly become unhealthy.
The hard truth is that anger actually serves a purpose when you feel stressed. This purpose, however, is not always a functional one. When you are struggling with stress and have an outburst, anger may give you the illusion of control. At Anger Management U, we teach that anger creates short-term results and long-term consequences. After an outburst you may feel better, may notice that someone else has backed down, may have gotten the attention you want, or more. However, these short-term results are not without consequence. The long-term results of anger outbursts include damaged relationships, shame, legal consequences, loss of employment, regret, and more.
If you can begin to minimize your stress by taking control before you use anger to do so, you may start to see a reduction in rageful behavior. Here are six practical steps to help you begin to get control of your stress:
- Notice your triggers and plan ahead. Are there some situations, people, or places that create stress for you? Identify the common sources of stress in your life and set a plan to manage them. How might you limit or control these stressors? Can you delegate tasks associated with these triggers? Can you set a time limit? By identifying your triggers and planning to deal with them in advance, you will feel (and have) more control over your anger, emotions, and life.
- Identify where you feel stress. Oftentimes, before the brain makes us aware we are feeling stress, our body feels it. Many people feel stress in places like their back, neck, hands, stomach, shoulders, and head. Notice where you generally feel stress and train your brain to recognize the symptoms of stress. This will allow you to take a break or moment to pause to reset and gain control.
- Set boundaries. It is okay to say no. We repeat, it is okay to say no. Setting boundaries with friends, work, and family will help you to plan a balanced schedule. If you struggle to say no, practice out loud. The more you try, the more comfortable it will become. When you do too much or overcommit, oftentimes stress happens. Take time to plan your week in advance, with breaks and time to yourself. This will help you to feel more in control of your schedule and commitments.
- Ask for help. Everyone needs a little help sometimes. If you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed, ask for help from a friend or family member. If you see an anger management coach or counselor, you can also use that time to learn how to ask for help, identify supportive people, or figure out where you might need to start asking for help.
- Relax! With the fast pace of life, you may often forget to schedule time for yourself. Commit to a certain amount of time or activity every day that gives back to your own health and wellness. Examples of this include going to the gym, reading, sitting quietly, watching tv, going for a walk, spending time with your pet, or more.
- Avoid blame. Blame creates resentment and drives anger. Instead, redirect yourself to take accountability for your actions and role in each stressful situation. When you start to take accountability, you also begin to recognize what you can control. Make changes from there.
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