Overview of Anger Management
Anger is a basic, human emotion that can serve an important survival function by alerting us to a situation we need to pay attention to.
How we express anger is something we learn. Consider for a moment: How did my parents express anger? How did my family react when I expressed anger? Were there subtle messages about how anger was expressed? What were the benefits and negative outcomes of the ways the anger was expressed for each person?
Because we learn how to express anger, we also can learn how to choose our reactions rather than automatically respond.
A quick way to help determine if you are angry is to draw your attention to the physiological sensations of your body. Here is a list of some possible signs marking your anger:
- Direct signs of anger: a surge of energy, raised voice, yelling, cursing, headaches, stomach aches, tightness in the throat, increased heart rate or blood pressure, clenched fists, threatening others, pushing, shoving, hitting, feeling violated, threatened, or insignificant.
- Indirect signs of anger: excessive sleeping, chronic fatigue, anxiety, numbness, sulking, overeating, loss of appetite, criticizing, hostile joking, abuse of alcohol or drugs.
- If you have been denying anger for a long time, it may take some practice to recognize it when it surfaces.
What Can Be Done
Utilizing Ways to Get Calm
You should not stay in a situation that makes you angry. The situation may be beyond your control, but your response is completely within your control. What are the ways you help yourself find a sense of calm? Try counting to 10. Breathe deeply and slowly, in and out.
Giving yourself space in the form of a time-out shouldn't be used to avoid the situation altogether. Return when you feel calm enough to express yourself effectively. If you feel your anger returning, take another time-out.
Identify your "Anger Triggers"
Write out your feelings and thoughts. Can you identify pattern or themes for what triggers your anger? Make a list of your "anger triggers" and keep the list in a place where you can refer to it often.
Try Thought Checking
Examine the thoughts you have just before becoming angry. Try to remember one or two situations when you became angry and trace what might be common themes for the sources of your anger. Evaluate whether your thoughts preceding your anger could be modified to be more accurate. Consider what other perspectives might be involved in the situation.
When you can discuss the issue without exploding, do so. If you start to feel angry while you're talking, calm yourself down again.
Mentally remind yourself of the positive aspects of a situation or person, what the other perspectives might be in the situation, and the possible mutual benefits of resolving a problem. You might start by naming your goal, e.g. "I hope we can hear each others' perspectives and find a solution that works for both of us." Next, you might share what your concerns are, followed by seeking the other person's perspective.
Listen to the other person's perspective with as much attention as you would like him or her to hear you. Give yourself additional time to process what they've said (and not have to think about your response while they are talking) by paraphrasing back what you heard and asking if you're hearing was correct. Allow the person time to clarify. By working together you are more likely to find a better understanding and possibly a solution.
How We Can Help
SHCS provides acute care, drop-in services, brief individual therapy, group therapy, and referrals for on-going therapy.
You can schedule an intake with a counselor at North Hall by calling (530) 752-2349. Urgent Care drop-in services are available on the first floor of the Student Health and Wellness Center.
- SHCS Counseling Services
- Controlling Anger Before It Controls You (American Psychological Association)