The MLRA Therapy Blog

Insights and ideas from the therapist team at Meghan L. Reitz and Associates.

Mood Management: Anger

Anger management is a common subject that people look for help with. It can stem from years of abuse.....or seemingly come out of nowhere, for no good reason. Either way, anger, hostility, and aggression are on the rise in our culture. This may be due to the more graphic nature of video games, television programs, movies, etc. that children at ever younger ages are being exposed to. It could also be attributed to individuals never learning how to deal with their emotions (like fear, sadness, confusion).

"Anger" can come in many different forms as well. For instance, I was driving in downtown Chicago traffic where a cab was stopped, blocking multiple lanes of traffic. After awhile, I honked. The cabbie jumped out of his car and run up to my driver's side window. He was yelling and screaming at me- in a language I didn't understand. I opend my window a crack- enough to say, please go back to your car or I'll call the police. Only when another cabbie pulled up beside me, asking what the problem was, did the guy get back in his car and pull away. It definitely was frightening and could have been much worse. What if he had had a gun?

So, as you can see anger can come in forms of emotional, verbal, psychological, and physical abuse. Even road rage! It's something that everyone experiences. Anger is a normal emotion. It's when it gets out of control that it becomes a problem. There are negative and positive ways to handle situations, and people with anger management issues tend to be dealing with issues with negative ways. To get a handle on whether or not you may have an anger management problem, see what other people are saying about your behavior. Also, do you feel a loss of control when something negative happens to you? There are plenty of quizzes and such all over google if you'd like to see if you're anger is dealt with normally, or if you may be needing to institute some anger management skills. There are also tons of self-help books out there (search Google or Amazon) and websites/blogs.

One technique that proves to be particularly helpful when you are feeling your anger thermometer rising is progressive muscle relaxation. I also recommend some of the methods of de-stressing from my previous blogs as well. However, for now, we'll focus on this one tool.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation:

You systematically and intentionally tense muscle groups and then completely relax them, moving throughout your entire body using the process. You can start from your hands, your feet, or from your head.

Example: If you decide to start with your head.....you'll want to find a place where you can comfortably sit. Relax your whole body. Then, focus on your forehead and eyes- scrunching them tightly for at least 5 seconds, then completely relax that are for another 5 seconds. Move to the rest of your face- tightening your mouth, cheek muscles, etc. Move to your neck- pull your shoulders up and feel the tightness in that area of your body, and so forth. After this exercise, your body should feel more physically relaxed, your focus should be less on what was making you so angry in the first place, and you should feel more calm emotional/psychologically.

 

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