During the fall months, Air Force Materiel Command will promote its managing anger campaign. Managing anger is the process of learning to recognize signs that you’re becoming angry, and taking action to calm down and deal with the situation in a positive way.
Anger is a natural emotion felt by everyone from time to time, and can be felt when we are frustrated, hurt, annoyed, or disappointed. Anger can help or hurt you depending on how you react to it. Sometimes anger can be used as positive energy: to help you exercise harder, work faster and accomplish more. Other times, anger can be harmful to yourself and those around you.
It is the behavior that follows anger that often gets people into trouble. When driving, reacting to being cut off in traffic by provoking an altercation with the other driver can get you into trouble. Screaming at an airport ticket agent because of a flight delay can lead to trouble. These destructive forms of anger can generate everything from hurtful comments to outbursts of violence to health problems. And while you can’t always control your feelings, your behavior and reactions when angry are something you can learn to control and express constructively.
There are warning signs that show you need help controlling your anger. These warning signs include:
• Frequent arguments with your partner, children or co-workers that escalate frustrations;
• Physical violence, such as hitting your partner or children or starting fights;
• Frightening or out-of-control behavior, such as breaking things or driving recklessly; and,
• Constant cynical, irritated, impatient, critical or hostile feelings.
The first step in learning to manage your anger is to know when you are angry. Learn to recognize the physical sensations and behaviors that precede your anger, such as muscle tension, clenched fists, increased heart rate, sweating or flushing, shallow and rapid breathing, knots in stomach, trembling and headache. Knowing these early warning signs of anger will give you a few moments to react before you have an emotional outburst or impulsive negative action.
Once you have identified the physical sensations and behaviors that occur in response to an anger-provoking event, you can develop strategies to effectively manage it. These strategies can be used to stop the escalation of anger before you lose control and experience negative consequences. Try one of these anger management strategies next time you realize you’re getting angry:
• Remove yourself from the source of anger. If you cannot leave because you are watching children, walk into another room.
• Calm yourself down when you begin to feel upset. Sit down and breathe slowly, until you feel as though you can speak clearly.
• Talk yourself out of anger. When you sense your anger warning signs such as fast pulse, knots in stomach, tell yourself “OK, relax” or “Stop, I’m getting angry.”
Support services available for the AFMC workforce on managing anger include professional counseling, classes, and educational materials. Professional counseling services are available through the Employee Assistance Program and Military OneSource.
Civilian employees may contact the Employee Assistance Program for free, confidential counseling services at (800) 222-0364 or visit the EAP website.
Military members and their families can use Military OneSource. For more information, call (800) 342-9647 or visit www.militaryonesource.mil.
Classes on managing anger are offered by the Family Advocacy Program. Contact your installation FAP for the class schedule.
For more information about managing anger education materials, visit www.AFMCwellness.com or contact your local Civilian Health Promotion Services team.