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Anger and Aggression - Self Help

When you are experiencing or expressing anger you are not using the thinking part of the brain (the cortex), you are using the emotional centre (limbic system). If incoming data (triggers, events, memories etc) causes an emotional response the limbic system will override the cortex and we move into either fight (anger etc), flight (anxiety etc) or freeze mode (depression etc). This is true of all emotions; we lose access to the thinking part of the brain – it gets bypassed/overridden. Take a minute to really think about this, maybe think about a time you felt anger (or any unhelpful emotion) and wondered why logic might not have stepped in. I’m not going to delve into the neuroscience of the brain or physical responses, however just thought it was useful to let you know what happens.

Once this hijacking takes place after the emotional incident occurs, it can take up to 20 minutes for you to calm down. For some it might take longer due to chemical reactions following the emotional incident.

When we move into fight, flight or freeze any bodily function not directly related to fighting or fleeing is put on hold. Functions such as cell production, body maintenance, digestion, circulation (except for the muscles), immunological defence to name but a few. The more anger and aggression we feel the more we place stress on our bodies which in turn will have a long term effect.

So, if you don’t want to express your anger or aggression in ways that you currently do what else can you do? There are lots and lots of things you can do, once you understand the triggers.

  • Punch a pillow / mattress / anything that won’t hurt you (or anyone else)

  • Crumple some papers and throw them or tear up an old newspaper

  • Write it down… get it out. I usually write it down, crumple it up and throw away the paper (or rip it up). This symbolises to me that I’ve let the feeling go

  • Have a good scream – into a pillow, in the shower, on a walk

  • Listen to some music or have a mad dance

  • Go for a fast walk or a run or anything that will use up your excess energy

  • Use a breathing technique that works for you (deep breathing is best). Take a look at this handout I put together

  • Start practicing Yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, Meditation… anything that helps you control stress, anxiety, anger etc (rather than it controlling you)

  • Watch or listen to some comedy or call a friend that you know will make you laugh… laughter is very powerful and releases endorphins (our bodies natural feel good chemical)

Don’t repress anger or internalise it because that can lead to other issues such as depression, anxiety, lack of self-confidence/self-esteem and many physical complaints.

Hope these tips help if you are suffering with the effects of anger or aggression. Remember, you don’t need to suffer alone, speak to someone and if you can get help. Much Love Jo xxxx

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