Let’s Talk About Anger
By: Megan Maurer, N.P.
You’re driving on your way to the grocery store.
Someone cuts you off in the parking lot, makes a face at you, perhaps shouts a derogatory word or showcases a hand gesture.
You feel your face get red; your hands tighten around the steering wheel. You might bite your lower lip or even shout back. You’re angry.
Maybe you were already running late. Maybe you’re carrying the stress of an illness in the family, experiencing challenges parenting or simply having a bad day. Whatever the case – it happens to everyone. Everyone gets angry or frustrated.
Negative emotions like anger or frustration are perfectly normal – and in fact, healthy! But often times as individuals, we try to avoid those feelings, ignore or gloss over them as a defense mechanism from sitting with a valid emotion. Anger plays a critical role in letting us know that something isn’t right and in activating us to do something about it.
Beloved children’s host Fred Rogers taught millions of children and adults how to process and identify emotions, as well as how to be kind, on his show Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. Behind the scenes, however, was child psychologist Margaret McFarland, who coached and mentored Rogers. McFarland suggested that facing, rather than abandoning emotions, is key in helping process them. Sometimes, that can just mean having a constructive outlet or hobby for your anger and frustration like listening to music, exercising, calling a trusted friend or simply saying out loud "I am angry".
Here are some other tips to manage your anger/frustrations:
- Do not suppress your anger, as it can often turn more internal and impact your physical health (increased blood pressure, heart rate, etc.). Anger is a healthy emotion and should be expressed. Be assertive but not aggressive or disrespectful with communicating your anger.
- Get away from "auto pilot" response for your reacting-in-the-moment anger. Reflect on why you might be angry and how you want to respond.
- Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, imagery, non-strenuous exercise.
- Be mindful with "all or nothing thinking".
- Focus not on the solution, but rather on how you will handle the problem.
- Practice active listening. If you’re in conflict with someone, try to listen as much as you speak.
- Get a change of scenery! Change your environment or location, or do a different activity or task for at least ten minutes.
- Connect with resources. Whether it’s watching a show like Mr. Rogers, or talking to a therapist or behavioral health professional. You don’t have to suffer.
If you are having trouble with the above steps, consider reaching out for professional help. There are so many ways to develop healthy outlets for anger and frustration and the team at Behavioral Health Partners (BHP) can help.
Behavioral Health Partners is brought to you by Well-U, offering eligible individuals mental health services for stress, anxiety, and depression. Our team of mental health professionals can accurately assess your symptoms and make recommendations for treatment. To schedule an intake appointment, give us a call at (585) 276-6900.
Alessandri, Mariana. “It's a Terrible Day in the Neighborhood, and That's O.K.” New York Times, 29 Nov. 2019, g-mnc.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Opinion-_-Its-a-Terrible-Day-in-the-Neighborhood-and-Thats-OK-The-New-York-Times.pdf.
Caron, Christina. “Overlooked No More: Margaret McFarland, Mentor to Mister Rogers.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 8 Jan. 2020, www.nytimes.com/2020/01/08/obituaries/margaret-mcfarland-overlooked.html.
“Controlling Anger - before It Controls You.” American Psychological Association, American Psychological Association, www.apa.org/topics/anger/control.
Flecker, Sally Ann. “When Fred Met Margaret: Mister Roger's Mentor.” When Fred Met Margaret | Pitt Med | University of Pittsburgh, www.pittmed.health.pitt.edu/story/when-fred-met-margaret.
Wollan, Malia. “How to Become Less Angry.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 23 Jan. 2019, www.nytimes.com/2019/01/23/magazine/how-to-become-less-angry.html?.%3Fmc=aud_dev&ad-keywords=auddevgate&gclid=Cj0KCQjw7MGJBhD-ARIsAMZ0eetqQEnvwUgPiwJs4Fhp44NkuA0aY96ulko0qM4Bqk5_-yHCb4kUEesaAhcVEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds.
Keith Stein |