While anger is a common challenge for every person, those in recovery may be recovering from trauma, such as feeling anger at family over a lack of understanding of their disease or a mental illness that causes them to fly off the handle at the drop of a hat. Managing anger is a skill that we can all benefit from, and it’s especially important in sobriety. Letting anger get the best of you could derail your attempts to say sober and even lead to a relapse. Instead of turning to drugs or alcohol to feel better, here are some ways to get calm and stay calm when you feel anger rising.
Remove Yourself From the Situation
The first thing you should do when you feel yourself getting too angry is to remove yourself from the situation whenever possible. Impulsive words spoken in anger can’t be taken back. Rather than creating problems that cause long-term damage in a relationship or can’t be corrected at all, step away from the situation and take some time to cool off. That may be for a few minutes or even a few days. Leave the room, take a walk, or take a drive if you can do so safely; just let yourself calm down before you try to talk it out. You want cool heads to prevail.
Take a Breath
When you’re stressed or angry, one of your first physiological responses is likely to start breathing faster and taking shallow breaths. You probably aren’t even aware of this physical response when your temper flares. Once something comes up that makes you angry or tempts you to get into an argument, start focusing on your breathing. Take a break and consciously work at slowing down your breathing and taking deeper breaths. If you can change how your body reacts to anger, your mind and your speech are likely to follow.
Music Tames the Savage Beast
Although the old saying about the calming effects of music may be a cliché, it’s usually true. Putting on some soothing or calming music can help de-escalate your anger. The key here is that it’s calming music and not something that pumps you up and makes you even angrier. It can be anything from a popular slow song to a new age tape of soothing instrumental music. You probably already know what kinds of music affect you the most, either positively or negatively. Whether it’s through an MP3 player, your cell phone, or a spoken word management device, you can have music at your fingertips so you can calm yourself when angry feelings arise.
Meditate on This
Speaking of music services, many offer guided meditations, music made for meditating, and several applications for listening to soothing sounds such as nature sounds or white noise. A lot of people are using these to help them sleep or as background noise during their day to fill the silence with sounds that won’t distract them from their work. Others use them to mask the noise of a city or silence when trying to go to sleep at night. Apps for this have many different sounds, allowing you to choose the one you find most soothing. Not only is it good for improving sleep or productivity during your workday, but playing some soothing sounds when you’re upset can help soothe your anger.
Can You Hear Me Now?
You’re angry and upset. You got into an argument with a loved one, or maybe a situation at work is driving you insane. It’s time to pick up the phone and reach out for help. Even if you’re the lone wolf of your social circle who wants to be independent in everything, there are still times when you have to ask for help. This may be one of those times. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people in your family or to other people in recovery to ask to talk it out. Not only will you get a chance to vent about the situation until you calm down, but a third party can often give you good advice that isn’t clouded by emotions about the situation. If you don’t feel like you have someone you can reach out to directly about the situation, sometimes just going to a meeting of a support group can help calm you down by listening to other people’s stories and how they cope with different challenges.
Anger management problems can be difficult for everyone, especially if you’re in recovery. Hopefully, you’ve learned some anger management techniques through a rehabilitation program. Maybe you’ve even attended anger management sessions on your own. When we’re angry, we may do things that we regret later; if you can manage that anger before it gets out of control, the chances of acting impulsively decrease dramatically. One of the most difficult things about recovery is learning how to manage your emotional state, whether it’s anger, feelings of inadequacy, or depression. Here at Everlast Recovery Center, we understand how difficult this can be. In the course of treating substance abuse as well as mental disorders at our Riverside, CA facility, we know that one of the key indicators of success is being able to manage negative emotions and anxiety. Our mission is to address the physical, mental, and emotional symptoms of your problems. Let us give you the tools you need to succeed in sobriety. Call (866) 338-6925 today.