Anger is a common emotion, and there will be times when an individual is upset, frustrated, or otherwise offset by aspects of their daily life. However, while being angry is common, it is still important to manage this anger to avoid unnecessary or negative consequences. Learning to process one’s anger healthily is not just important for a healthy mindset, but for those in recovery from an addiction to drugs or alcohol, it is an essential skill for continuing to prioritize one’s sobriety and newfound lifestyle.
Finding the Sources of Anger
Anger is an enigmatic emotion, despite being widely experienced at every age and throughout all walks of life. The way anger manifests in each individual can vary, and there are many ways an individual may react to these feelings. For some, anger may be a sudden burst of energy that manifests as a destructive force for releasing stress, either by physically lashing out at one’s environment or verbally expressing oneself through yelling or antagonistic language. Others may feel the simmer of anger beneath the surface, slowly building over time until it is difficult to contain any longer, and an individual feels compelled to release or process this anger in whatever way is most immediately possible.
Likewise, what upsets an individual can be different for each person. Some people may react drastically to even perceived slight inconveniences. While one’s rational thought may tell a person that such a reaction isn’t warranted, one’s mind may still be filled with an intense level of anger, making processing and rationalizing one’s behaviors incredibly difficult. Because of this highly personalized nature of anger, it is important to approach one’s coping strategies with just as much individualized focus.
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Facing Anger in Newfound Sobriety
For those recently discharged from a center for alcohol and drug treatment, just beginning their journey to a sustained, transformed lifestyle in sobriety, anger can be an incredibly intense emotion. Recovery is an emotional journey filled with change and uncomfortable new experiences. Learning to identify the swell of emotions that come with recovery is a practiced skill, and before an individual is able to identify, process, and release these emotions, it is easy for them to instead present as anger — a directionless force that is both confusing to experience and destructive in its potential.
The Importance of Anger Management in Recovery
Anger is an inherently volatile and irrational emotion, having many adverse effects on recovery. Managing one’s anger is essential in ensuring that one maintains a healthy focus on sobriety. Allowing emotions to run wild without check can cause anger to compromise one’s interpersonal relationships with peers, professionals, and supports. This can also dilute one’s focus and cause an individual to relinquish their own sober goals, increasing the possibility for slips and relapse as one’s anger overshadows one’s larger goals in their sobriety.
Tackling Anger a Day at a Time
Finding the right strategies to process anger is essential throughout the recovery process. While not all strategies will work for every person, there are many options available that can help achieve a degree of control over one’s anger responses, including:
By simply counting to a certain number — even as little as five or ten, an individual can take away much of the power of anger. When angry, many people are prone to acting quickly without giving thought or process to their actions or consequences. Counting provides an individual with essential time to force the brain to focus on something else before acting. Even just these few seconds can be instrumental in creating the context for one’s actions, allowing one to choose how they respond, relying more on conscious decisions rather than destructive instinctual responses.
#2. Regular Journaling
Journaling is a powerful resource for many reasons. While anger is something that can simmer beneath the surface, journaling one’s emotions can help an individual give their feelings form and direction with one’s writing. This approach also allows individuals to learn to better identify their feelings, including anger, as one explores their larger emotional growth retrospectively with one’s journal as a resource.
#3. Get Physically Distracted
Getting the body distracted can also help the mind distance itself from angering sources. Physical activity, such as going on a jog when upset, working on a project, or even practicing or playing sports, are all powerful strategies to process anger. Finding a way to get one’s body distracted can provide an individual with a new focus while also creating an outlet to move past one’s anger.
Anger is an ever-present hurdle throughout addiction recovery, and coping with its distracting, disruptive, and destructive implications is necessary to maintain one’s focus on sobriety and progress toward a healthy transformation. At Hawaii Island Recovery, we understand the prevalence of anger throughout the recovery process and are equipped to help you cope with its effects and continue on your best path. Your time at our Hawaii center for alcohol and drug treatment can be personalized to fit your needs and goals, from coping with urges and stresses to managing anger, anxiety, depression, and more. Individual and group therapies, meditation, yoga, mindfulness practices, Dharma recovery practices, and extensive cultural and experiential therapy programs are all available to you, backed by an understanding and supportive community of peers and professionals alike. For more information on how we can help you, or to speak to a caring, trained staff member about your unique situation, call us today at (866) 390-5070.