Anger is a common reaction to many of the stressful experiences people have during everyday life. The stress of military life, such as the emotional toll of deployments and separations, can begin to affect your psychological health. If anger is affecting your daily life, it may be time to reach out for help. Not handling anger properly can negatively impact relationships with loved ones or colleagues, as well as your overall health by increasing your risk of a heart attack, stroke, hypertension and more. Your health care provider can teach you how to manage anger, discuss how it affects you and help you gain new skills to respond to it more practically.
Signs of Anger
You may not even realize that anger is affecting your life. Anger can become a concern when those feelings become too intense or too frequent, or when they cause you to act in hurtful or overly aggressive ways. If you find it hard to control your anger you may become frustrated easily and have a low tolerance for any daily setback, such as a traffic jam or lines at a grocery store. If you are expressing anger inappropriately, you might do so in obvious and physical ways. This can include:
- Having outbursts (like cursing or throwing things)
- Being violent (for example, toward yourself, others or objects)
- Becoming physically ill (such as developing high blood pressure or heart palpitations)
Or, you may show signs of anger in less obvious ways that indicate you need help. These can include frequently feeling angry, withdrawing socially or having difficulty letting go of thoughts about perceived insults and mistreatment.
Manage Your Anger in a Healthy Way
If your anger is interfering with your life, it is important to seek help. Providers can help you access resources to support healthy anger management, such as anger management classes. They may also suggest cognitive behavioral therapy. This type of therapy can help you improve control of your anger and reduce hostility, aggression, and depression. While working with a provider, try these simple tips on your own:
- Talk to someone. Reach out to a friend or a non-medical counselor to help work through what’s triggering your anger. Anger can sometimes be a signal that you might be avoiding a problem.
- Relax. Breathe deeply through your diaphragm, repeat a positive, calming word or mantra, or try yoga.
- Use humor. Silly or lighthearted humor can help reduce stress you may be feeling. Humor is a good way to cope, but don’t dismiss your emotions.
- Take a break. If you start to feel angry, leave the situation before you become overwhelmed. Take some time for yourself. Even 15 minutes to take a walk or stand outside quietly can be helpful.
- Communicate effectively. Listen carefully to what others are saying and ask questions. Try not to jump to conclusions.
If you are feeling distressed as the result of military service or other life stress, know that reaching out is a sign of strength.If you or a loved one needs additional support, contact the Psychological Health Resource Center 24/7 to confidentially speak with trained health resource consultants. Call 866-966-1020 or use the Real Warriors Live Chat. You can also see a list of key psychological health resources here.
- “Strategies for controlling your anger.” (2011, October). American Psychological Association.
- “Controlling your anger before it controls you.” (n.d.). American Psychological Association.
- Mccloskey, M., Noblett, K., Deffenbacher, J., Coccaro, E. and Gollan, J. “Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Intermittent Explosive Disorder: A Pilot Randomized Clinical Trial.” (2008, October). Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.