The other night I got mad. Real mad. I came across something online, something someone said about a person I know, and the mama bear in me raged. I wanted to act. I wanted to chase someone up a tree. I had my response and was ready to throw it like a pine cone.
Anger is an emotion we all have and we constantly are learning to navigate. I grew up around several individuals who had tempers and therefore I associate anger and being upset as “bad” emotions. I’m still learning how to be better at being mad. It is natural for things to upset us. It is okay for things to upset us. It’s how we handle them that makes the difference.
Anxiety is particularly good at stirring up our anger. We are prone to negative thought patterns, obsessive worry, and increased irritability. If you struggle with anxiety odds are you also find yourself struggling with angry emotions from time to time. But there are ways to help yourself through these moments…
1. Acknowledge That You’re Angry
Listen, telling yourself you’re not angry is not gona work. Plus, fully ignoring the anger and bottling it up is just like shaking a soda can and hoping that calms everything down. For your health and for your growth, accept and acknowledge that, yes, you are angry. Simply be in that anger for a few minutes.
2. Check-In With Your Body
If you live with anxiety, you know how it can affect your body. The same goes for anger. Spend a few minutes identifying the ways in which your body is reacting. Maybe you feel tension in your neck and jaw, your legs are restless, your arms and hands are tingling, your heart rate has accelerated…do you quite literally feel like you’re ready for a fight? Mama bear.
3. Breathe Dammit
If you’re body is gearing up for a fight no one has time for such trivial shit as breathing! You’ve got more important things to do! But this is exactly what you should do. Seriously. Because most likely you’re not breathing (what I mean is you’re probably taking very shallow, unhelpful breaths). Consciously breathe in through your nose while counting to 4, hold the breath as you count to 3, then release slowly. Repeat.
4. Identify Your Thought Patterns
Hey, what are you thinking right this second? Because if you’re angry, more likely than not you’ve got a broken record looping around in your head. And that record is also sitting in a pot of boiling water and it’s getting hotter and hotter and loopier and loopier. STOP. Force your brain to think of something new. Anything new. Preferably something with which you have positive connotations.
5. Turn on Some Tunes
Music is powerful. One way to re-track your thoughts and physical response is by putting on some mood-adjusting music. Whether you want loud music that matches your current mood or calming music that helps mellow you out, let the music help you through this moment.
6. Watch Some Funnies
Hop onto the internet and watch your favorite funny clips or start finding some new ones. Do you love watching kids fail with epic proportions as they try to do all the sports? Watch some of that shit. Do you enjoy cats sleeping in the sun? Dig up a few of those videos, I think the internet has at least, oh, 5,000 of those.
Help get some of the arterial tension and frustration out of your system. Move. Take a quick walk, do a few sit ups or push ups, stretch out your muscles. For long-term benefits, pick up a regular activity that helps you stay aligned with your physical being. Start a kick-boxing class, yoga, or take a walk every day after work.
8. Dig Up The Roots
“Where is this anger really coming from?” the cliche therapist asks its client on another daytime TV drama. But really, ask yourself this. Have there been multiple little things adding up for a while? Did you have a challenging day at work so your patience was already worn thin? Try and figure out why your reaction today is what it is. Anger is a wonderful way to tap into things in your life that need to change.
9. Write Things Down
Sit down for a moment and write a letter to the person with whom you feel upset. Outline everything you’re feeling, why you’re feeling it, and how you wish it would change. Don’t hold anything back, no matter how small or ugly. Next, try to see things from their perspective. Do your best to try and understand where they are coming from. Then, tear the letter up.
10. Go Easy On Yourself
People with anxiety are very talented when it comes to being their own worst enemy. We are awesome at seeing our failings, our faults, and our shortcomings. And if you find yourself losing your temper, saying something you wish you hadn’t, or thinking negative thoughts it’s easy for us to quickly turn on ourselves. But remember that you are human and anger is an integral part of the human-emotion-spectrum. It will exist whether you want it to or not. So instead of beating yourself up, take a deep breath and tell yourself you are going to learn and grow.
When I was mama bear’ing the other night and was ready to fire off my thoughts, I told myself to get a nights sleep first. If I woke up and still felt the same way, then I was welcome to proceed.
It was HARD to turn off my brain and to fall asleep. I wanted action. I wanted it NOW. But the following day I was grateful I hadn’t acted. The situation is not something I want to engage in. While I don’t agree with the manner things unfolded, there are other ways I can support and help the people I care about instead of adding fuel to a fire I didn’t start.
There will be things in life that make you angry. But holding onto that anger is like holding onto Poison Ivy and then complaining that you’ve got this hideous rash.