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How Can I Manage My Anger?

Hannah Hopper, LPC, NCC 

One of the most common things I’ve heard from my clients during the pandemic is that it’s been extremely difficult to manage anger and overwhelming emotions. What I keep hearing is that anger is coming up in more unexpected places; it’s harder than ever before to manage anger with co-workers, in relationships, and with family members. Many of us have a shorter fuse these days, and that’s why I’m covering anger management strategies in this blog.  

Breath first 

When you’ve felt angry in the past, you might remember feeling a surge of energy in your body that makes you want to do something physical. In those moments there’s a surge of adrenaline that starts to run through your bloodstream, your heartbeat quickens, and your muscles become hard and tense. When your body starts talking to you in these different ways, make a mental note that it could be because of something that you’re feeling upset about. Next, start to take some deep, slow breaths by breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. Take at least 10 breaths and notice the way your body begins to slow down. Changing the way you are breathing will send signals to your brain to calm the rest of your body down, essentially telling your brain that you’re no longer in fight mode. 

Take a break 

Walk away from the situation and give yourself a break from whatever or whomever is contributing to you feeling this way. Once you’ve physically gotten away from the trigger, think back to what it was that started to upset you in the first place. In the heat of the moment our emotions can feel overwhelming and hard to control, but it’s worth noticing what has led up to us feeling this way so that we don’t continue to repeat the same patterns. 

Find an outlet 

Since anger is usually experienced as an intense physical sensation in the body, it can help to calm down by doing something equally physically intense. Going for a run after a long day of feeling frustrated is a great way to let off some steam and let go of the anger. If you get angry a lot during the middle of something when you won’t have time to do a lot of physical activity, get a stress ball that you can squeeze as hard as possible in the overwhelming moments. 

Express what you’re feeling

Once you notice that you’re feeling calmer and more in control of your emotions, set aside some time to write down what you’re feeling. Think about what was said to you, and the thoughts you had as you were starting to feel angry. Once you have a better understanding of what was going on for you in the moment, express your frustrations to the person you were angry with. Think about what you’d like to say first to avoid having another blow-up. Talk about your needs and your concerns assertively, without blaming the other person for how they made you feel. 

Start therapy today

Managing anger is difficult to do alone, especially if you’re hoping to start to understand what’s contributing to you feeling angry. Taking the first step to set up a counseling session can feel daunting, but therapy can lead to lasting change in your life. If you’re ready to take that first step and schedule a session, you can browse our therapist bios to find someone that is the right fit for you. You can also contact Symmetry Counseling today by calling 312-578-9990 to get matched with one of our Chicago counselors

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