Learning to control your anger is an important step in your lasting recovery. While we all get angry, feeling anger too strongly or displaying it frequently and aggressively can be harmful to your health. It can place extreme physical strain on your body and, if you’re not careful, it can become a harmful habit that’s hard to break.
The good news is that you can control how you express anger. Despite common myths, the way you express anger is not inherited but a learned behavior. Here are some helpful hints to control your anger during recovery and beyond.
Learn your triggers. Take note of the people, places, situations, and memories that set you off. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) lists the following examples of events or issues that may be red flags:
- Long wait to see your doctor
- Traffic congestion or crowded buses
- A friend joking about a sensitive topic
- A friend not paying back money owed to you
- Being wrongly accused
- Having an untidy roommate
- Being placed on hold for long periods of time while on the telephone
- Rumors being spread about your relapse or recovery
Identify your anger cues: This is an important step in monitoring your anger as these cues can act as a warning sign that you have become angry or that your anger is about to escalate. According to SAMHSA, there are four cue categories:
- Physical: How your body responds (increased heart rate, tightness in the chest, feeling hot or flushed)
- Behavioral: What you do (clench your fists, raise your voice, stare at others)
- Emotional: Other feelings that may occur along with anger (fear, hurt, jealousy, disrespect)
- Cognitive: What you think about in response to the event (hostile self-talk, images of aggression and revenge)
Take a timeout. This basic anger management strategy is easy and effective. In general, taking a timeout means taking a few deep breaths and time to think before you react. It can also mean leaving the situation or stopping the conversation that’s provoking your anger, according to SAHMSA. Take a five-minute walking break to get some fresh air, or if your anger stems from the traffic jam you’re stuck in, turn up the radio and sing at the top of your lungs.
Snap yourself out of it. Wear a rubber band on your wrist and snap it when your blood begins to boil. Then take a few minutes to review what triggered your anger and what you can do to calm yourself down.
Set a timer. The next time you start experiencing anger cues, take a look at your watch and don’t take action until at least two minutes have passed. This will give you time to think and act in a more appropriate way.
Anger Management for Young Men
Our Men’s Program at Red Oak Recovery® focuses on the unique needs of young men in early recovery, including anxiety, depression, and anger. Our clients learn about what triggers and motivates them to use in the first place, and work to develop new healthy coping strategies and positive skills for lasting recovery. Call today: 866.457.7426.