Anger is often a volatile emotion. However, anger is a common and normal experience despite its intense effects. Still, it can be destructive if an individual is not prepared to cope with its effects.
There is no question that veterans of the armed forces face many challenges as they transition to civilian life. This includes overcoming personal stresses and anxieties to navigating traumatic experiences from one’s time on active duty. Knowing how to process and release anger safely is crucial for veterans to live healthy civilian lives. Regardless of how intense feelings of anger can be, it may help to know that it is always possible to overcome the effects of anger.
The Prevalence of Anger Among Veterans
While anger is a ubiquitous human emotion, veterans of the armed forces can be uniquely susceptible to anger and its effects. For some, anger can stem from feeling lost in one’s transition to civilian life. Military culture and values are a unique microcosm. While civilian life may be filled with people thanking one for their service, it can also be an isolating experience to feel as if one has fundamentally different life experiences, skills, and culture. This can often manifest as anger, either by feeling abandoned by one’s culture or disconnected from one’s community.
Other veterans may struggle with feelings of anger pointed inward. This is common among those suffering from trauma or grief as a result of experiences during one’s time in service. The loss of a fellow brother or sister in arms or other traumatic experiences can cause a veteran to harbor anger and resentment towards themselves, thinking that they either could have or should have acted differently during high-stress scenarios, despite how unrealistic or unfair such thoughts may be.
Between many veterans returning from active duty with traumatic experiences to the stresses of transitioning to civilian life, anger is a familiar feeling among many members of the veteran community.
The Dangers of Anger in Daily Life
Even though anger is a common, universal experience, it can still come with several risks. Because anger is a volatile emotion, it often causes an individual to react directly to the stimuli in front of them while providing little time for one to consider more rational responses. This can cause an individual to say things they don’t mean or exhibit physical outbursts that involve the destruction of material things or even physical abuse.
Anger can also lead to an increase in self-destructive behavior. For some, this can mean feeling as if one has to turn to drugs or alcohol to calm down or feel normal again, while others may act with less regard for their safety or well-being while angry. The emotional impact that unchecked anger can have on veterans is intense and can result in further emotional turmoil as the consequences of one’s actions come to light. Therefore, managing anger appropriately is crucial for mental and physical health. Thankfully, it is always possible to channel these intense emotions more healthily for the betterment of oneself and one’s family and peers.
Learning to Better Manage Anger
Managing anger does not consist of repressing or avoiding the emotion altogether. Instead, managing anger involves adopting strategies that allow an individual to remain in control of their behaviors, even if intense feelings of anger are present. Where repressing feelings of anger can cause them to bottle up and beget further unhealthy consequences, effectively processing and expressing anger can lead to a healthier outlet.
Practice Breathing Techniques
The idea that breathing is something one must practice can seem odd at first. However, breathing practices are instrumental in managing anger. Taking a few deliberate, deep breaths, or counting out seconds between breaths, can all add a necessary degree of control to one’s life. The most destructive parts of anger come when an individual feels they have to act immediately without time to think through the consequences of one’s actions or words. Taking these deep breaths provides a few precious seconds to analyze one’s feelings and react with deliberate intent.
Write It Down
Anger can also be incredibly enigmatic. When feelings of anger arise, they can change one’s perspective about everything. Writing down exactly what upsets an individual and why one is angry is incredibly powerful, as it provides a safe outlet to be a conduit for any emotion. Looking back over journal entries or other records of one’s feelings allows an individual to create more specific goals for approaching a particular topic rather than feeling overwhelmed all at once.
Seek Professional Help
For some, professional help may be necessary when learning how to manage anger. Finding that one’s anger is manifesting at all hours of the day or affecting one’s professional or family life could indicate the need for professional support. Therapy and other professional treatment options can help individuals address the effects of anger in their life. They can also help individuals identify and overcome other self-destructive tendencies resulting from uncontrolled anger, such as substance abuse.
It is vital to understand that there are centers for alcohol and drug treatment nationwide. If one is using alcohol and other drugs to cope with anger, treatment can help. Professional support can be incredibly valuable for veterans as they work to better their civilian lives.
Anger can be an overwhelming emotion, and we at Hawaii Island Recovery are prepared to help you understand and overcome the effects of anger on you or your loved one in civilian life. Our effective alcohol and depression treatment programs are all personalized to veterans’ unique needs and goals, including addressing the prevalence of anger and its effects on one’s continued mental health and sobriety. From detox and residential treatment to our ongoing support as a resource throughout your recovery journey, we are committed to creating a community of peers for veterans to overcome anger and other challenges you may face. For more information on how we can help you, call us at (866) 390-5070.