Anger: Is it constructive or destructive?

In a survey, 1000 people were asked what their experience of becoming angry was. Over 86% of those who responded described it as being negative. For them, anger usually results in negative outcomes and emotional pain. Although many people experience this emotion as being negative, our anger can actually be very helpful. The critical difference between whether anger is experienced as negative or helpful is determined by whether we express our angry emotions constructively or destructively.

ANGER: THE BODY’S ALARM SYSTEM

In many ways, our anger can be compared to a car alarm. It is a warning system that is designed to protect against threat. At its very core, anger is a basic survival response. Insults, criticisms, or some form of unfairness can be seen as threats that cause us to become angry. Much like a car alarm that goes off when a thief attempts to steal a vehicle, anger acts as the body’s warning signal that something needs to be addressed. Suppressing our angry feelings or ignoring this warning can have serious and unwanted consequences. Likewise, expressing anger in a destructive manner can result in serious and unwanted consequences.

In order to avoid acting destructively, we need to learn to take a step back without impulsively reacting. Instead, we need to see our anger as a signal that something is not working. Responding constructively, when we feel anger, places us in a much better position to resolve the underlying problem. In fact, when anger is expressed in healthy ways, it can actually enhance our relationships and our mental health. When we express our anger destructively, it will tend to destroy our relationships and result in loneliness and isolation. The key to making this change from destructive to constructive expressions of anger is to shift from being furious to becoming curious about what your anger is trying to tell you. To accomplish this shift, we need to become aware of our own internal processes.  To create this awareness, take a step back and pay attention to the feeling arising inside of you. Be curious. Explore your thoughts. Identify your impulses. Notice the desire to react but refrain from reacting. This is the time to ask: What are my needs in this situation? What is not working for me? What do I desire? What would I like the outcome to be? Take a few moments to write out your answers to these questions. Now, reflect on how you might respond to the situation in a manner that is more likely to move you towards your desired outcome. When we take the time to examine our anger with curiosity, it enables us to gain greater understanding about our lives. Practicing this skill can become a powerful aid for enhancing your mental and relationship health.

BECOMING A STUDENT OF YOUR ANGER

Our anger management program works to help you develop greater awareness of how you respond to your anger. You will learn to develop new skills for making the emotion of anger serve you better.

To learn more contact our office to talk about how our program will help you make anger a valuable asset by seeing and managing it differently. 250 862 1927 or email vic@strongmentalhealth.net.

ANXIETY :

knowing how to make it work for you Everyone worries about things like health, money, or family problems at one time or another. But people with General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) or other anxiety disorders are extremely worried about these and many other things, even when there’s little or no reason to worry about them. They may be very anxious about just getting through the day and always think things will go badly. At times, worrying keeps people with anxiety from working or accomplishing other everyday tasks. Unlike the relatively mild, brief anxiety caused by a stressful event (such as speaking in public or going out on a first date), an anxiety disorder lasts at least six months and can get worse if left untreated. It can cause complete, albeit temporary, memory blocks or entirely inappropriate behavior. Effective therapies for anxiety disorders are available, and research is uncovering new treatments that can help most people with anxiety disorders lead productive, fulfilling lives. If you think you have an anxiety disorder, reclaim your life by seeking information and treatment now.

Causes

Several parts of the brain are jointly involved in the production of fear and anxiety. Through brain-imaging technology and neurochemical analyses, scientists have discovered that the amygdala and the hippocampus play significant roles in most anxiety disorders. The amygdala is an almond-shaped structure deep in the brain that’s believed to be a communications hub between the parts that process incoming sensory signals and the parts that interpret these signals. It alerts the rest of the brain when a threat is present and triggers a fear or anxiety response. Emotional memories appear to be stored in the central part of the amygdala and may be linked to anxiety disorders involving very distinct fears. The hippocampus is the region of the brain that encodes threatening events into memories. Studies have revealed that the hippocampus may actually be smaller in people who were victims of child abuse or who served in military combat. Anxiety can be triggered when an overload of stress on the nervous system throws it off balance, causing symptoms of anxiety. Overstimulation leading to frayed nerves is a common problem in today’s society. Besides the constant pressure of juggling work and family responsibilities, cell phones and pagers allow individuals to be available 24 hours a day. Late nights and continually changing sleep patterns have become serious problems: sleep helps to regulate stress, so a lack of sleep can promote and aggravate anxiety. Anxiety commonly occurs alongside other mental or physical illnesses, such as addiction, which may mask anxiety symptoms or make them worse. An overactive thyroid can also lead to anxiety symptoms by speeding up the body’s metabolism, as can strokes and illnesses that affect the central nervous system. These other health conditions must sometimes be treated first before a person will respond to treatment for their anxiety disorder.

Symptoms

If you have anxiety, you worry very much about everyday things for at least six months, even if there’s little or no reason to worry about them. You can’t control your constant worries, despite realizing that you worry much more than you should. You can’t relax, have a hard time concentrating, are easily startled, and have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Physical signs of anxiety range from trembling and sweaty hands to bouts of diarrhea, heart palpitations, and full-blown panic attacks. A feeling of a lump in the throat, also known as globus hystericus, is not uncommon for women during times of extreme stress. Other common symptoms of anxiety include feeling tired for no reason, headaches, muscle tension and aches, having a hard time swallowing, trembling or twitching, irritability, sweating, nausea, light-headedness, breathlessness, frequent urination, and hot flashes.

Avoiding Anxiety

Anxiety is directly linked to your ability to cope with stress in your environment. It occurs most commonly during, or in anticipation of, an event which depends on performance. Typical situations that arouse anxiety are working under deadlines, starting a new job, or meeting someone important. Change also causes anxiety, and the more serious the change, the more profound the effect. Death, divorce, and personal illness are among the most challenging changes that can trigger symptoms of anxiety and nervous tension. Many people benefit from joining a self-help or support group and sharing their problems and achievements with others. The Internet has many virtual support groups, but any advice received online should be treated with caution, since Internet acquaintances usually never see each other and often assume false identities. Talking with a trusted friend or spiritual advisor can likewise provide support, although it should never be used as a substitute for treatment from qualified health-care providers. Stress-management techniques and meditation may also help. There’s growing evidence that aerobic exercise has a beneficial effect on mental health. Hiking, walking, and swimming are all effective antidotes for tension, while deep-breathing exercises can help to oxygenate and relax you. Whatever the cause of anxiety, the result isn’t always debilitating. If feelings of anxiety cause you to work through unresolved problems, the results can be highly rewarding. Redefining who you are and what you want will reinforce a sense of yourself, build confidence, and help prevent the onset of a full-blown anxiety disorder.

To learn more about overcoming anxiety please call 250 862 1927 or email vic@strongmentalhealth.net