Having previously explored a variety of coping skills for anger, such as reinforcement and seeking opinions (Part 1), honesty and brooding (Part 2), self-talk and visualization techniques (Part 3), Part 4 of the series how to control anger will now cover:
- Prayer and meditation
- Sport and exercise
- Breath control and deep relaxation
16. Prayer and Meditation
Some people suggest prayer and meditation as beneficial anger management techniques. Both of these suggestions involve very personal practices for an individual.
The act of praying and being alone with one’s thoughts is a good way to release tension and let the pressures of life wash away. Letting go of feelings of anger and negative thoughts will definitely make a positive change in a person’s life. Through prayer and meditation, a person is able to dig deep into their mind and soul for answers to their problems and comfort for their broken spirit. Even if a person is not of religious persuasion, learning to meditate effectively can be highly therapeutic.
Also, many people are benefiting from pastoral care organizations that offer anger support groups for congregation members who need encouragement and understanding when dealing with their anger problems.
Since stress is centered on your mind, learning to control this can be achieved by diverting it into something more productive, relaxing and fun. Maybe try to delve into games that require your mind to think. In order to stimulate the logical component of the mind, word and number games can be highly beneficial e.g. crosswords, Sudoku etc.
Chess, Checkers or Go are excellent in this regard, for in order to play them well, one’s mind will focus on strategies to beat your opponent rather than dwell on nagging personal issues. If this is not for you, put your energy into DIY, car repairs, making or building something, drawing or painting, gardening, studying or maybe playing a musical instrument etc.
18. Sport and Exercise
Engaging in exercise and sport is a well-established stress management technique that has been proven to have a positive impact on an individual’s mood. Stress/anger affects you physically, mentally and emotionally, and partaking in sporting activities addresses all 3 aspects.
Exercise helps the body release chemicals called endorphins (natural morphine) that interact with the brain and central nervous system. Endorphins not only counter pain but are feel-good chemicals that help improve mood and one’s sense of well-being.
An activity might be as simple as going for a walk or a more energetic jog in the park, visiting the gym to work out or taking part in a favorite team sport. Alternatively, hiking or spending a few hours in the beauty of nature will definitely allow a person to clear their head and release tension.
The key is to immerse yourself in the activity and enjoy it. Don’t spoil it by being over competitive to the point whereby the activity itself becomes self defeating. Frustration about you or your teammate’s performance will be counterproductive and lead to stress, anger and arguments.
19. Breath Control and Deep Relaxation
Learning to breathe correctly and deeply is highly beneficial for your health. At a basic level, whenever you feel that you are getting angry you should take deep breaths. Deep breathing slows down your heart rate and takes the focus away from your anger. Regular practice on deep breathing from the diaphragm region, whilst thinking about a happy place or a relaxing past experience, will help contribute to lower stress levels, a healthier cardiovascular system and assist in detoxifying the body e.g. Joseph et al. 2005. It has been shown that deep breathing stimulates lymph flow, helps eliminate poisons and toxins from cells and enhances the immune system e.g. Kochupillai et al. 2005.
Practicing Yoga or Pilates regularly will help a person develop breath control, body-mind awareness, self-control and the ability to relax deeply.
Yoga is known to be one of the most effective forms of stress relief and is a discipline that can be utilized on a number of different levels, as well as in various places and situations. For example, Yoga breathing exercises such as Anulem and Vinolum are used to calm the thought process and allow you to maintain focus when overwhelmed with too much information, too many thoughts or problems at one time. Yoga can be performed sitting in a chair, standing in an elevator or even while taking a bus ride.
The benefits from learning Yoga are many. For example, cramps and poor posture can make an individual irritable, but simply learning the correct way to breathe can align your body properly and solve many of the problems associated with these issues. By taking deep breaths and learning to focus on them, your body is pulled in to shape by this most natural of human movements. Other benefits include controlling obesity, joint pain, blood pressure, and even ailments of the kidneys can be treated with Yogic Kriyas. Also, problems like anger, tension, hypertension, stress and headaches have been treated successfully.
Aside from the physical benefits of Yoga, the mental advantages are well documented. Yoga has an ability to redirect our thinking to a more positive frame of mind. Hatha Yoga is a particularly potent form of physiological and psychological cleansing. In any environment, stress is a normal occurrence; the way we handle stress varies from person to person. Hatha Yoga, and Yoga in general, provides people with the tools they need for dealing with stress on a daily basis.
Pilates focuses on deep, lateral breathing control and targeted muscle strengthening. It is a safe, low impact method of exercise that minimizes the risk of body damage; it can be tailored to suit each person, whatever their age or physical condition. It is a superb conditioning, training and cardiovascular workout for everybody, producing a leaner and aesthetic body sculpturing-effect with less bulky muscles. Apart from improved coordination, reduced muscle stiffness, increased joint mobility and flexibility and flattened abs, Pilates is able to reduce anxiety and stress levels whilst invigorating and boosting energy levels.
Many famous people from the world of sport, music, dance, theater, modeling, TV and films practice Pilates e.g. Madonna, Tiger Woods, Rosario Dawson, Jennifer Aniston, Pat Cash, Sarah Jessica Parker and Cindy Crawford. Remember that stress is intimately associated with anger. When stress rises, so does the risk of anger-related issues. Stress accumulates over time and like the ‘hair that broke the camels back’, when the tipping point is reached, the spontaneous overflow can express itself as anger, or like an erupting volcano of explosive rage. Therefore, de-stressing is like popping a balloon and will help dissipate anger. Pilates can be practiced at home using a DVD (e.g. pilatesforbeginnersdvd.com is a site dedicated to helping people interested in starting Pilates) or one can attend courses.
Although this method is relatively new in treating or controlling anger, hypnotherapy is considered to be very effective. The treatment involves hypnotism which works by focusing on restructuring thoughts on a subconscious level. The treatment may also uncover some clues from your past to help determine the cause of your anger.
Someone who is undergoing hypnosis will be put into a state of deep relaxation. Hypnosis, when carried out by a professional, is a type of soothing therapy that is safe, gentle and positive. It is during this state of deep relaxation that the subconscious mind is the most receptive to new ideas and perspectives. As the state of relaxation continues, the individual will receive positive suggestions (e.g. motivational encouragement, confidence-building statements and a basic anger control plan) based on dealing with anger in a healthy, effective and constructive manner. Hypnosis can aid managing anger by helping to reduce stress and anxiety whilst boosting a person’s self-esteem and confidence.
A person who has undergone hypnosis will experience new thinking and behavior patterns. These new patterns are what allow a person finally to control their anger and to reach a healthy level of anger management. In addition, a professional hypnotist can teach their patient a variety of self-hypnosis techniques that the individual can employ whenever they feel stressed or are faced with aggravating situations. Most countries have an Association of Professional Hypnotherapists that can recommend competent and properly trained hypnotherapists in your area e.g. American Association of Professional Hypnotherapists (www.aaph.org).
Compared to psychotherapy, hypnotherapy is usually less expensive and, depending on the individual, it may produce faster results. Although some people may not respond to this technique, others find an improvement from just a single session. Most people will undertake a course over a number of weeks to achieve the desired outcome.
Part 5 in the series of how to control anger will cover the following:
- Acupressure and Emotional Freedom Technique
- Controlled diet