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4 Tips to Deal With Anger

Ask Ms. Vicki

Help Me Get This Monkey Off My Back!

Are your family, friends, and co-workers noticing that you get easily upset? Are you yelling, screaming, swearing, throwing things, banging your fists on the desk? Is your driving out of control to the point of road rage, as you "bob and weave" in and out of traffic lanes and make obscene gestures to other drivers?

Anger is a normal feeling and an emotional reaction to a frustrating situation or encounter. It can also be unhealthy. The physical consequences can be heart disease, stomach troubles, headaches, back pain and even sleep disorders. Moreover, the effects to your many relationships can be tremendous: your spouse, children, family, friends and others in the workplace. Anger can even ruin your self-esteem and self-worth.

The emotions of anger can be positive or negative. For example, I stepped on the scales and became angry when I discovered I had picked up a few pounds, but instead of throwing my bathroom scales across the room and shattering my bathroom mirror I decided to point my anger in a different direction. I decided to visit with a nutritionist and a personal trainer. I turned the angry feelings into positive and more adaptive ones, a healthy release. Perhaps you've been angry lately for many reasons. Maybe you've been angry at your spouse, your children, co-workers or friends and you're at a loss on how to resolve the feelings of anger: how to get the monkey off your back.

It's time for you to get this anger monkey off your back. It's not about never getting angry, because that's impossible. Rather, it's about finding more positive ways to cope and conduct yourself.

You may have an anger problem if you answer yes to any of the following:

  1. Other people are afraid of you when you become angry. They leave the room and your children may even run and hide.
  2. You have physical reactions when you become angry. You begin to sweat, your heart palpitates uncontrollably, your body tenses up and you clinch your fists tight.
  3. People avoid discussing things with you fearing you will become angry.
  4. Your nickname is the "boiling pot" or the "the big steamer."
  5. You've been told you have an anger problem.
  6. It's been suggested that you get help to manage your anger.

4 Ms. Vicki Quick Tips to Get the Monkey Off Your Back in a Hurry:

  1. Recognize the trigger and decide to relax instead of "going off". Simply counting very slowly from 1 to 10 or counting backwards from 10 to 1 is a great way to calm down and avoid saying or doing something that you will later regret.
  2. Stop, and think. This will help you change your thoughts about the situation. Instead of "coming unglued" ask yourself why you are angry and what you can do to change the situation instead of becoming angry. You may find out that it's out of your lane and not your battle to fight in the first place. There is no reason to overreact.
  3. Take a time-out and leave the situation. You can leave the room, or leave the house. What you need real quick is fresh air and to release some energy in a different way. The time out will give you the opportunity to take a walk, breathe, and think. This will help you avoid the need to blow your stack.
  4. When you have calmed down, take a piece of paper and write down what triggered your response and ask yourself why it triggered you in the first place. It's important to know what the triggers are so you can learn more about "who you are".

To get the monkey off your back, you should consider taking an anger management class, visiting a book store and reading some self-help books, or even have a few visits with a therapist or counselor. It's important for you to realize the underlying causes of your anger. On the surface you could assume it's about an uncaring boss or co-workers, or an unavailable spouse, etc. However, your anger could be about something much deeper that should be resolved. Unresolved anger can become worse and prove detrimental to you and your most important relationships.

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Contributor

Ms. Vicki is a native of Dallas, has been the Dear Abby for the military community since her column began in 2005. A licensed therapist and licensed clinical social worker, Ms. Vicki holds a Master of Science in social work and a Master of Arts in clinical psychology.

Ms. Vicki appears regularly on Military.com and in the Fort Campbell Courier. Her column has also appeared in the Washington (D.C.) Times and in the Heidelberg (Germany) Post Herald. She has been featured on CNN, CBS, ABC and NBC.

Looking for advice about your military life? Email Ms. Vicki here. Find Ms. Vicki on Facebook here.  Find Ms. Vicki on Twitter here.

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