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REGULAR Anger Management

Emotions often run high in the care environment. This can be a good thing that affects positive change. However, for those times when a situation is getting out of control, our regular columnist, Wendy Smith offers advice on how to keep anger in check.

How do you feel about the word anger? It’s a difficult word isn’t it? For most of us, the word itself brings out a range of emotions. So let us think a little bit about anger and why thinking clearly while in its grip can be so difficult.

First, anger is a completely normal human emotion. It can be a legitimate and healthy response to injustice and to the wrongs of the world. Anger can motivate people to find solutions to difficult problems. But too much anger, or anger that is not for what most people would regard a legitimate cause, can be dangerous. It can damage us and those around us. Excessive anger can lead to high blood pressure and other harmful physical changes. Anger can make it difficult to think clearly which leads to poor judgment, as well mental and physical health problems.

We get angry when we think someone has ‘broken the rules’ – our own or those of the group to which we belong. When those rules get broken, we react. We think it isn’t fair and we need to put things right. Sometimes we feel the need to punish the transgressor for making us feel uncomfortable; they should not have made us angry.

Sometimes the roots of anger lie in something that happened a long time ago that didn’t get sorted out at the time. The feelings of anger have festered and some quite innocent action can trigger them off, making us feel angry all over again.

When anger gets out of control and turns destructive, it leads to problems; problems at work and in personal relationships. It damages the overall quality of life. You, and those close to you, are left at the mercy of an unpredictable and powerful emotion.

So, what can you do to manage your anger?

Simple relaxation techniques like deep breathing can help you deal with feeling angry. There are lots of books around and courses that can help you learn to relax. If you practice a technique in the good times, it means you can use it to calm yourself when things get difficult.

Here is a simple technique I teach to my coaching clients:

• Sit in a straight-backed chair with your feet planted firmly on the floor.

• Breathe deeply from your stomach; breathing from your chest won't relax you. Picture your breath coming up from your abdomen.

• Slowly count five as you breathe in. • Hold your breath for the count of five.

• Then breathe out slowly for the count of five.

• Repeat until you feel calm.

Concentrate wholly on your breath. If other thoughts come don’t resist them, just let them float by.

Practicing this technique daily means you should be able to use it almost automatically when you're in a tense situation.

When you're angry, your thinking can become exaggerated, “oh, this is awful, this is terrible, this is disaster.” Instead, try telling yourself, “this is frustrating, and it's understandable that I'm upset about it. But it isn’t the end of the world. Getting angry isn’t going to put it right anyway.”

Exploding with anger doesn’t make you feel better. It simply floods your mind with negative emotions. Remind yourself that getting angry is not going to fix anything.

Be careful of words like ‘never’ or ‘always’ when talking about yourself or someone else. These words serve to make you feel that your anger is justified and they don’t help you solve problems.

Getting angry may help you to put the world right but it can also put you at the mercy of an unpredictable and powerful emotion. If the simple techniques suggested here don’t help you control your negative anger, then be prepared to ask for help. Talk to your doctor or a counsellor. Controlling your angry responses is part of staying healthy and making life happier for you and those about you. @WWisewolf

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