Habitually turning to drugs or alcohol to mute complicated feelings such as anger may have left you without any healthy coping mechanisms in your arsenal. Now that you are sober, you will need to deal with the aftereffects of your substance use, including learning anger management techniques.
Understanding Anger as a Relapse Trigger
Everyone experiences anger, but we don’t all respond to it in the same way. For people in recovery, anger can spark the flame that leads to a relapse. When you are angry at yourself for your self-destructive behavior or upset with friends or family members who aren’t supportive of what you’re going through, if drinking or using was your go-to approach for sweeping anger under the rug, you might find yourself experiencing powerful cravings for your former substance of use.
Getting to the root of your issues with anger requires you to practice some go-to strategies. The first of these is to identify what sets you off when you have an enraged outburst. In these cases, it can help to keep a journal where you describe each incident in detail. For example, write down where you were, who you were with and what happened to trigger your angry response. Over time, these journal entries might help you identify patterns you can use to spot signs of future flare-ups.
Healthy Anger Management Techniques
What are some constructive ways to manage anger next time you’re on the verge of losing your temper? Consider these strategies.
1. Deep Breathing
Deep breathing is an excellent strategy to try if you feel overwhelmed with stress, guilt, shame or anger. It causes a natural relaxation response in your body, during which your blood pressure decreases and the tension drains away from tight muscles.
For example, try closing your eyes and inhaling for a slow count of four, letting the air fill your lungs completely. Then, exhale for another slow count of four, emptying your lungs. You might need to repeat this cycle a few times before you feel calm enough to resume your day without lashing out or saying something you will later regret. It may help to repeat a soothing phrase in your mind, such as “It’s OK” or “Slow down.”
2. Talk Through Your Feelings
Sometimes, sharing your emotions with someone else can help ease your burdens and remind you that you’re never alone. Reach out to your therapist or a trusted friend or family member who understands your ups and downs. Be open and honest about your feelings and ask for their feedback and advice.
Exercise has a multitude of physical and mental health benefits. Next time you feel like a ticking time bomb is building up inside you, get your aggressions out with an intense workout like running, Tabata, HIIT or kickboxing.
Meditation can be an excellent release valve for excess stress and tension. You can reap the benefits of meditating even if you’re short on time. If you have trouble focusing, try a guided meditation that includes imagery of a relaxing destination such as a beach or forest.
Your Recovery Refuge
At Pillars Recovery, we understand what it’s like to be in thrall to addiction because we have experienced it firsthand. We are here to help you discover the joy, fulfillment and freedom that accompany a sober lifestyle. To learn more about our Southern California recovery community, please reach out to us today.