When people talk about anxiety, they talk about the fight or flight system – a way that your body reacts to fearful stimuli. When you encounter a stressful situation, your adrenaline jumps, your body shakes, and your body prepares for action.
When you suffer from anxiety, you are essentially suffering from a broken fight or flight system. Your body is constantly in fight or flight mode, giving you that constant feeling of fear. Many people experience those symptoms and withdraw, but some people take the opposite route – their body goes more into “fight” mode than flight, and they experience unhealthy degrees of uncontrollable anger.
It’s anxiety that leads to things like road rage and bar fights, and for some people their anger may be even more difficult to control, putting them constantly on edge and making them very quick to anger. This type of anger leads to an anger management problem.
Controlling Anxiety to Control Anger
When anger problems are being caused by anxiety, relieving that anxiety is one of the most important methods of relieving some of the anger. Strong anger management programs are the first step, because these programs tend to include valuable coping strategies that can help those with anger control problems. In addition to anger management classes, there are lifestyle changes that can reduce daily anxiety and potentially lead to fewer anger outbursts. These include:
Leaving at the First Sign of Anxiety
Anxiety doesn’t always come at once. It often occurs gradually in different situations. Removing yourself from the situation can potentially remove yourself from anxiety and anger triggers that otherwise would create further anxiety. If you cannot control your anger, you can control the buildup that can lead to anger, and it may be a good idea to leave and relax on the first sign of anxiety.
Reduce Minor Anxiety Stimulators
In addition to anxiety buildup, anxiety has cumulative qualities. The more anxiety you experience in multiple areas of your life, the higher a starting baseline you have when you do experience other anxiety related issues. That means refraining from even small anxiety-producers, like horror movies, clubs, dark alleys, and other anxiety producing stimuli. On their own, these may be generally harmless. But when you suffer from anxiety, these only make the anxiety you experience worse.
Physical energy and anxiety go hand in hand. The more physical energy you have as a result of inactivity or simply unused muscles, the more anxiety you experience and the more your mind and body are on edge. Exercising releases a lot of that energy, which in turn makes it harder for anxiety and anger to be triggered. In addition, some exercises – like jogging – can release endorphins that improve your mood overall, and exercising itself is a powerful way to burn off feelings of aggression which may fuel greater anxiety.
There are relaxation techniques that are very effective at relieving anxiety, and can generally help mentally take you out of any situation that leads to aggression. Meditation is a good example, as is visualization (imagining a happier place), but one of the easiest is deep breathing, which involves breathing in slowly through your nose and filling your stomach first, holding for about five seconds, then breathing out very slowly through your mouth. These types of techniques calm anxiety, and also give you something to focus on other than the situations that make you angry.
Finally, one issue with anger in everyone – including those without anxiety related anger management issues – is a feeling of being unable to say what you wish to say. You’ll have something on your mind that upsets you, and the more you try to hold it in, the more anxiety you experience, which in turn leads to more anger.
Some type of written creative outlet, such as a journal or a blog, where you can write out your angry thoughts will help ensure that you no longer need to hold them inside, creating more anxiety. You will still need to take precautions to ensure it doesn’t get out to the public, but the activity can be very calming to your mind and provide you with some of the anxiety help you need.
Relieving Anxiety to Relieve Anger
Overall, it’s best to combat anger with anger management strategies provided by a specialist. But when anxiety contributes to your anger, there are also lifestyle changes that are valuable towards relieving it. The above list is a good example of some of the quicker changes you can make to reduce your anxiety, and ultimately reduce your anger.
About the Author: Ryan Rivera lived with intense anxiety for years before he discovered techniques to relieve the stress.