What is anger management?
Anger management is indicated when you do not understand your anger and why it happens. It is about knowing the triggers and early warning signs of anger and learning ways to calm down. It is also about managing the situation before it gets out of hand.
How a psychologist can help you
Your psychologist will assist you to understand how the brain is involved in anger outbursts and this understanding will equip you to regulate your emotions. You will learn brain basics that underlie many of our seemingly involuntary behaviours.
There is a dangerous misconception that venting one’s anger is an effective way to reduce stress and anger. Another common strategy that is often heard is to redirect one’s anger into exercise. Research shows the opposite is true. Venting causes the person to stay angry and he or she is more likely to keep doing aggressive things in order to keep venting. Redirecting anger into exercise also maintains the angry person’s arousal level and may even increase aggressivity. While catharsis makes one feel good it also becomes an emotional hamster wheel. The aggressive action (venting, punching a bag, exercise) that led the angered person to experience emotional relief acts like a reward machine setting him or her up to seek more and more of it, like a drug.
Instead, managing anger begins with identifying the triggers and warning signs of anger. It is useful to notice the situations that make you angry. Then notice what happens to your body that warns you that you are getting angry. You may notice your heart pounding, face flushed, sweating, tense jaw, tight chest, jaw clenching and gritting your teeth. The earlier you notice the signs the greater the chances of controlling your anger. The second step is to identify the irrational thoughts that are associated with being angry and to develop self-talk to shift these thoughts.
You may need to take time out and you might use distraction and relaxation. It is also important to acknowledge what made you angry and learn how to be assertive, not aggressive.
Lastly, if you have a problem with managing anger, then rehearsing anger management skills is essential to staying calm.