5 Tips To Cope With Anxiety When Anger Is Your Coping Strategy
by Ryan Rivera
(San Luis Obispo, CA)
While there are many different causes of anger, anxiety is the one that often gets overlooked. People see anxiety as fear, and anger as the antithesis of fear. But the truth is that anger can be caused by a number of different experiences, and anxiety is a surprisingly common one.
Why Does Anxiety Affect Anger?
Anxiety is your body experiencing a "fight or flight" response. It's a rush of adrenaline that affects your mind and your body. In general, most people experience "flight." They feel like they want to run away – as though their entire body is telling them that they should be fearful. But those with a predilection towards anger are more likely to experience a fight response. When they experience stress or energy or fear, their body goes directly into fight mode, and they respond with anger.
It's for these reasons that men and women with anger issues experience things like road rage, or bar fights. If someone comes up to you in a bar, for example, and they appear intimidating, the fight or flight response has you wanting to fight right away.
How to Control Anxiety to Control Anger
Anger management is about more than simply controlling anxiety, so anyone suffering from anxiety related anger will need to integrate successful anger management strategies in addition to any anxiety control tips. However, here are a few strategies to help you control your anxiety, and your anger.
The moment you realize your anxiety is starting to affect you, leave the situation completely. In the moment it's very difficult to control the fight or flight response, because the response is by its very nature uncontrollable. That will make it hard to prevent your anxiety from turning into anger. It's best to simply leave the situation altogether, and worry about controlling your anxiety in a safer place.
• Focus on Humor and Distractions
There are two ways to deal with anxiety – try to find a way to relax, and try to find something to take your mind off of the anxiety. For those with anger issues, the latter may be best. Healthy distractions (like listening to happier music) and humor (watching stand up comedies on TV or your smart phone) are a good way to calm down without allowing you to focus too much on your thoughts.
• Avoid All Anxiety-Producing Behaviors and Activities
Gambling, drinking – even watching horror movies and going on roller coasters – these are all activities to avoid when you have rage related anxiety. While on their own they produce only a mild amount of anxiety, they accumulate with the rest of your life anxiety to create more pressure, and ultimately more chances to get angry. Any anxiety-producing behavior or unhealthy coping activity needs to be avoided.
Some people go to the gym when they're feeling aggression, and it's certainly not a bad idea, but jogging is perhaps an even better strategy. Long distance running burns away stress hormones and has a unique ability to regulate mood once you've jogged beyond 10 minutes or so, because it releases a pain-killing endorphin that makes it easier to "feel better."
Sleep is profoundly important for adequate coping, especially if you have anger inducing anxiety. Sleep is a natural coping strategy and helps you think more clearly, while sleep deprivation is a common anxiety cause. If you're avoiding sleep, you're avoiding a key component of ensuring you're easily able to gather your thoughts and control your anxiety symptoms.Controlling Anxiety to Control Anger
Never underestimate the power of therapy. There's no shame in seeking professional help, especially if you've accepted the belief that your anger needs to be controlled. But the above tips should help you start to control your anxiety, and if you combine it with other anger management behaviors, you'll find that you'll be able to control your anger and experience a better quality of life.About the Author:
Ryan Rivera has decades of experience dealing with anxiety and the fight or flight issues it creates. He writes about anxiety and panic at CalmClinic.com