Anger is my least favorite anxiety symptom. Let me deal with the racing thoughts and increased heart rate any day. But as soon as I project my anxiety onto other people…that’s when I feel the worse.
But you know what? Anxiety is one hard mofo to try to control.
I’ll always remember feeling incredibly misunderstood as a child. Crying was my way of dealing with things. But I always got reprimanded for crying as a child, and I never understood why. I even remember being forced into diapers when I was 8 because of my “tantrums.”
But are tantrums even tantrums? Or are they something deeper? Looking back, I realize that my “tantrums” were nothing more than panic attacks of a kid who had no clue what was going on with their body.
And I never realized how much my anxiety caused my anger until a few years back. Now I’m trying every thing I can to try to combat both. Here’s how.
UNDERSTAND THE CAUSES
- Lack of Control: Those who have anxiety often feel that they’re not in control of things. This often starts an unhealthy cocktail for disaster.
- Fight or Flight: Many people with anxiety experience the need to flee a situation. Others take on the fight approach and feel an overwhelming urge to fight whatever is causing them anxiety.
- Irritation: Anxiety is a disorder that causes an exceptional amount of irritation. Irritation, more often than not, causes anger.
- Blame Game: A natural reaction to stress is assuming other people are causing it. Especially when that stress is as hard to understand as anxiety is.
Keep in mind that anger can also be a cause of anxiety. People with anger issues often experience a lot of anxiety, because they worry about their ability to control their anger. This just further perpetuates the cycle of stress and anxiety.
So what can you do to help deal with your anger caused by anxiety?
IDENTIFY YOUR TRIGGERS
The next thing you can do is come up with a list of all your triggers. What are the thoughts that get your mind pounding? What sets your heart racing? What makes you panic? What makes you angry?
Your list of triggers might go on and on and on, and they might even change depending on the day. But that is totally okay. Anxiety may be a constant energy, but it is not a constant, singular thought process.
I am most triggered about going somewhere new and being in an unfamiliar spot. I am also on very high alert when any of my OCD triggers are being flared up. Even though I also have severe social anxiety, anger isn’t usually one of my symptoms of it.
IDENTIFY WHAT CALMS YOU
On top of figuring what triggers your anxiety, try to figure out what helps calm you in these stressful times. Is it music? Is it breathing exercises? What about coloring books or word search puzzles?
Trial and error is the best way to figuring out what works best for you. Also note that what works for you today might not work tomorrow. Please try not to get discouraged. Remember, recovery is not linear.
TELL OTHERS ABOUT IT
If you know your anger is affecting your life, it’s time to tell the people you’re close to about your anxiety. Don’t try to justify your actions. Instead, try to describe what goes on in your head.
Explain your triggers to them. Tell them that when you spit vicious words at them that it’s most likely because you are feeling completely out of control. Tell them about the things that help calm you so they can better help you in the future.
Go into as much detail about your experiences as you feel capable. It’s best to have these conversations when you’re both in a more level state.
OWN UP TO IT
Even though our brains like to hold us hostage at times, we must remember that we are not the only ones affected by our anxiety.
We are not perfect, and I know for damn sure that I mess up. I hate that my anger overtakes me before I can even grasp what is going on. It’s embarrassing, and makes me feel like shit for days. But I try every day to make life a little easier for those around me.
I do this by asking others questions about how my anxiety makes them feel. I try to validate their experiences as much as I can without invalidating what I go through. Remember, they are also going through something that you can never fully understand.
Above every thing, I think the best way to help cope with anger caused by anxiety is to communicate openly.
Do you deal with anger caused by your anxiety? How do you cope?
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