A disagreement with a friend; rush-hour traffic; a long wait at the doctor’s office; an untidy roommate; rumors about your recovery – these are just a few of the many mundane things that can trigger anger once you return to your sober life. Certainly it’s normal (and human) to feel anger, but if you find yourself feeling it strongly or very often or displaying aggression, it may be a red flag that you need to take control. If uncontrolled, anger can jeopardize your physical and mental health as well as your recovery.
After all, anger is the “A” in the famous recovery slogan “HALT,” which stands for the things that can trigger relapse including being hungry, angry, lonely and tired. The good news: A few relatively simple steps can go a long way in helping you better cope with anger and preventing it from having a negative impact on your health and your recovery.
Your first step: Get to know your anger cues. These are the warning signs that your anger is about to bubble to the surface and you’ll need to find a way to calm down, notes the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. This includes:
- Physical: Is your heart rate increased or do you have tightness in the chest? Are you feeling hot or flushed?
- Behavioral: Are you raising your voice, staring at another person or clenching your fists?
- Emotional: Are you feeling anger along with other feelings like fear, hurt, jealousy or disrespect?
- Cognitive: What is going through your mind at the moment when you feel angry?
In addition to becoming familiar with these signs, you can try the following relaxation strategies:
- Give yourself five. The next time you find yourself in a tense situation or heated discussion, take a deep breath and take five. You can excuse yourself and get some fresh air or just close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Whatever works to give you space prior to reacting.
- Wait at least two minutes. Along the same lines, a good rule of thumb is waiting a good two minutes before reacting to any anger-inducing situation. Forcing yourself to take a break will help youslow down. For some, watching the time count down can even be a calming tool.
Managing Emotions and More During Recovery
At Spearhead, we’ll help you learn how to identify and cope with anger, aggression, stress and other emotions that can harm your recovery. To learn more about our gender-specific treatment, call today: 866-905-4550.