5 Healthy Ways To Cope With Anger Or Frustration
Many people in recovery have trouble regulating their emotions. After all, we live in a world that has a lot of natural ups and downs. As a result, life can be upsetting, frustrating and leave you feeling like you can’t cope. But those are just feelings! In recovery, you learn to live with your feelings and healthily express them.
Anger is a normal human emotion. You’re allowed to feel it. What you don’t have a right to do is hurt others because you feel angry. You don’t have a right to drive aggressively or mistreat your spouse.
If you’re angry, you don’t have to act out in anger.
5 Ways to Cope With Anger
Instead of freaking out when you’re angry, give yourself a minute. Coping skills don’t just naturally appear overnight; they must be practiced. By stepping away from a situation when you’re angry, you give yourself time to react.
Take a deep breath, then try one of the following:
- Go for a walk and practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is a type of meditation that can help calm anxiety, relax stress, and put you in a better mood. Youtube has a lot of videos you can check out or check your phone’s app store.
- Take a quick jog or bike. Getting moving can help calm your anger and fill your brain and body with the feel-good hormone, endorphins.
- Vent in a journal. If you don’t like to write, draw your feelings. These are private thoughts you don’t have to share with anyone. But once you’ve vented your emotions on paper, make a vow to leave them there for the rest of the day.
- If you’re in an argument, ask the other person to give you time to cool off. Then, sit down with your sponsor and plan what you’re going to say. Remember that each of you has the right to your own feelings. Try to look for solutions to the problem, not get “revenge.”
- Accept that sometimes you’re going to be angry. Sometimes life isn’t fair. Working on acceptance is a part of recovery; not everything will go your way all of the time. Talk to your sponsor about acceptance. Learn and practice the serenity prayer. And if things get complicated, take yourself to a 12-step meeting. There are plenty of people to reach out to and learn from there!
Consider Sober Housing
If you or somebody you love are looking for structured, compassionate aftercare, we’re here to help. Our community offers independence as well as structured therapy. Learn more about what we have to offer by calling us at 760-216-2077.
For people in recovery, coping skills can be a significant challenge. Unfortunately, when you were in active addiction, these skills may have been in short supply.
After all, when you were sad, you probably got high or drunk. When you were angry, you probably got high or drunk. When you felt lonely, happy, confused, or lost…you probably got high or drunk, if it was an option. When you get sober, you learn that you don’t have the best coping skills. Discovering new ones will be a lifelong process. But there are some you can try on for size right away. So what are some good ones to practice?
New Coping Skills To Try On For Size
Not every coping skill works for every emotion. Here are some ones to try on for size. If they don’t work for you, you can always try another one, instead. Keep what you need and leave the rest.
- When you’re angry: Go for a walk or a jog. If you don’t like that type of exercise, choose something like bicycling, surfing, or shadowboxing. Exercise can release calming hormones that also provide a mood boost.
- When you’re sad: Permit yourself to cry. Then, listen to sad music for 10 minutes, and let it all out. Or, pick up the phone and call somebody in your recovery network to talk it out.
- When you’re lonely: Send somebody a text message or get yourself to a 12-step meeting, pronto. People are the cure for loneliness. Yes, you can feel lonely in a room full of people. But, if you share that pain, it often is lessened.
- When you’re happy/excited/proud: Believe it or not, your coping skills for celebrating may not be the best! Many people use good news as a reason to use substances. Instead, make a date with a friend or your sponsor to go out for ice cream. Share your good news with friends in recovery. Happiness multiplies when it’s shared.
- When you feel like getting high/drunk: Call somebody who doesn’t, and make arrangements to get to a 12-step meeting. Share about how you feel, don’t hold it inside. The feeling will pass, but keeping it secret can be dangerous to your mental health.
Consider Sober Living
Are you or somebody you love interested in a living situation that offers structure and aftercare? Sober living may be the right decision for you. Learn more about your options by calling us at 760-216-2077.
Everyone gets angry from time-to-time. There is nothing wrong with feeling and expressing anger. However, many people in recovery have trouble recognizing anger and expressing it appropriately.
Anger in Early Recovery
Newcomers to recovery often describe their emotions as raw and intense. If this sounds like you, it gets better. This too shall pass. Much of the intensity of your emotions in early recovery has to do with getting sober. Your body is re-balancing chemicals after a time you were using substances constantly. You’re also not used to feelings. Addiction helped you drown a lot of your negative feelings out.
After a few months sober, you’ll start to see the world differently. The effects of the substances you were ingesting will basically be wearing off. You may find you’re no longer so angry or moody in general.
After you’ve gotten a little sober time under your belt, your emotions will start to stabilize. But some people have trouble managing their anger. Do you blow up easily? Are you constantly feeling frustrated? Have you hit or punched things or threatened people when you were angry?
Are You an “Angry Person? How to Change
If this sounds like you, then you probably need some help with anger management. Lots of people have trouble expressing their anger in a healthy way. Luckily, there are tools available to help you vent successfully:
- Recognize what anger feels like for you. Does your pulse race? Do you feel yourself getting hot? Practice recognizing these symptoms so that you can have a plan to interrupt the anger cycle.
- Practice “defusing” when you’re angry. When you feel yourself snowballing into anger, give yourself five minutes to cool off. That may mean going for a quick box or shadowboxing in another room. It could also mean spending ten minutes or so meditating in a quiet place. Learn what tools help you feel less angry.
- Learn to use nonviolent communication. When you’re upset, don’t blame the other person. Focus on your feelings and use “I” when you’re speaking. For example, “I get scared when you don’t text me back. I sometimes think you’re dead!” is something you may say to your kid. Don’t blame. Instead, search for solutions that will keep you from getting upset in the future.
- Anger is healthy. But don’t let it take over your life or ruin your day. Let yourself be angry for a few minutes. Figure out a healthy way to express that anger. Then let yourself put it aside for later.
If you’re having trouble expressing your anger, ask for tips from your support network, sponsor, or therapist. There are a lot of different ways people cope with their anger. Just make sure you do no harm with your new coping method. (Smashing up somebody’s car is not a way to manage your feelings, for example!)
Consider Sober Living
Sober living is an opportunity to live in a small, peaceful community of others who share the same goals and values. Start your journey in recovery in a structured environment that helps you stay grounded. Call us for more information at 760-216-2077.
Once you’ve been in sobriety a while, life becomes more interesting. When you were drinking and drugging, you probably had goals that you thought about. But as addiction takes over, goals and relationships go by the wayside. It’s hard to remember your sense of purpose when you’re using drugs or alcohol. But once you’re sober, you’re probably already thinking of the new possibilities in life. Setting goals is a part of your new life. Using to-do lists can help you stay organized on a daily basis.
Getting Started with Your List
Many planners and organizers online offer to-do list pages. There are many ways that people in recovery learn to chart their progress and set goals. A list of things you want to accomplish every day can help you set aside specific times to work on things.
How many goals do you have right now? Pick up to five to start out with. List them on a piece of paper. For each of your goals, there are steps to achievement. This is how you can begin to pursue them.
How to Create a List that Makes Sense
For example, if you want to go back to college next year, what are the steps that you would need to take? Break it down into easy steps, such as:
- For one thing, you’ll need to choose a school.
- You’ll need to apply and wait to be accepted.
- You probably need to get your high school or college transcripts and send them to the schools of your choice.
- You’ll need to figure out how to pay for school.
- You’ll need to decide what semester you’ll go back.
- Finally, you’ll choose your classes and take them.
For each of these goals, you can write a new to-do list to accomplish it. Once you’ve done this, you can break each goal into small tasks that move you forward.
Consider Sober Living
Many people who have completed treatment feel like they need more time to focus on their recovery. Sober housing, in a safe and serene environment, can help you learn more about what you want out of recovery. Learn more about how sober housing can help you learn more about life in recovery by calling us at 760-216-2077.
The holidays can be stressful for people in and out of recovery. Getting together with family can sometimes cause anxiety for newly sober people. There are a lot of potential triggers to deal with if it’s your first holiday in recovery. You may be seeing family or missing family. There will always be feelings to cope with.
Here are some ways to cope this holiday season:
- Reclaim your time. You don’t have to go to a family get-together all night. Stay for a few hours, and then give yourself time to do something for yourself. You’re not obligated to stay at any event until the end. Being in control of your own time is an excellent skill to practice.
- Plan to go to a 12-step meeting. There are often events for Christmas and New Year planned strategically to help people out who are struggling. Many cities with 12-step meetings will host “marathons” that have meetings back-to-back for 24 hours.
- Make a deal with your sober friends to check in with each other. If you’re feeling worried about triggers or emotions, let other people know ahead of time. Let sober friends you want them to check in on you, too. Texting at certain times and venting can help do wonders. You can also get advice if you’re feeling anxiety or anger. Make your network into a tight-knit group over the holidays.
- Speak with event hosts ahead of time to let them know you’re sober. If you expect there will be drinking or drug use at the party, ask them directly to keep alcohol away from the other drinks. Bring a two-liter of your favorite non-alcoholic beverage.
- Plan daily self-care. This may mean getting up earlier to meditate or go for a jog. Do what helps you feel safe and calm.
- Journal when you’re feeling angry or hurt. Holiday seasons, especially for people relatively new to sobriety, can bring up intense feelings. It’s not wise to get into heated discussions when attending family events. If something comes up, find a quiet spot to journal it out.
- Agree to disagree or speak later if sensitive discussions come up. You’re not the only one who may feel emotions this holiday season. If things get uncomfortable or intense during a discussion, ask the other party if the conversation can wait.
Staying sober during the holidays is essential. You’re not alone this holiday season. Reach out and go to meetings if you’re feeling lonely, angry, or scared. Many people have a tough time during the holiday months. You can get through it with the help of your support network and peers in recovery.
Sober Living is a Safe Place
Many people discover that they're not ready to confront the world alone after just thirty to sixty days of treatment. Are you interested in learning more about a safe, fun sober living environment? We offer a haven for the transition to a new life full of hope, progress, and camaraderie. Learn more about how a sober home can help you continue your journey in recovery by calling us at 760-216-2077.
We’re all human. We all make mistakes and feel sad, angry, and lonely at times. Part of being human is the ability to handle and process a multitude of emotions. In recovery, you’re learning how to cope with these emotions as well as recognizing them. It’s hard to learn emotional regulation, but it’s a skill to think of as lifelong.
What is Emotional Regulation?
In recovery and the world of mental health, you may hear this term without really understand what it means. Counselors and therapists especially like to talk about how you can regulate emotions.
A basic definition of emotional regulation is an individual’s capacity to both experience emotions and react – or not react – to them.
Feelings are natural and healthy. Everyone has them and has to cope with them in daily life. As a person new to recovery, you may experience your feelings intensely and feel like you have to “do something about them.” The truth is that many people think this way, but reacting may not be the most excellent idea. If you’re angry, and you try to “do something about it,” you’ll probably damage a relationship, put yourself in jeopardy, and feel guilty about your reaction.
Emotion Regulation Helps You Control Your Reactions
Emotional regulation helps put you in control of your actions and reactions. While you can’t change things that other people do, you are entirely in control of your response to them. You may feel awful, but you don’t need to retaliate for your feelings, even if you think that somebody else caused them. You'll need to learn to live through your feelings without using drugs or alcohol.
Your response to emotions can be unhealthy if you don’t try to regulate your emotions. Examples of unhealthy responses include using drugs or alcohol, reacting with violence or self-harm, and lashing out at others. Some of these coping techniques may be almost automatic because you’ve used them for so long.
In recovery, breaking unhealthy patterns is essential. You’ll probably find that these types of reactions to emotions don’t even “work” anymore. Now that you’re no longer numb, when you react poorly to something that hurts or angers you, you’ll find that you don‘t feel better. You probably will feel even worse about yourself and the situation that brought you there.
Creating New Responses to Emotions
When you’re feeling anger, sadness, fear, hurt, or anxiety, there are dozens of ways you can cope with those emotions. Creating new responses may seem a steep hill to climb at first. As you continue to learn new coping skills, healthy reactions will come more naturally.
Instead of using your older coping skills (using drugs and alcohol), try something new, such as:
- Go for a walk
- Go for a bike ride
- Talk to a friend or sponsor
- Go to a 12-step meeting
- Write in your journal
- Watch your favorite TV show
- Read your Big Book
- Do your schoolwork
- Do something fun!
Emotional regulation can take a while to get used to. Your emotional responses may be triggered more when you aren’t getting enough sleep or feel overwhelmed. Taking care of your body as well as your mind is important to helping you cope with your feelings.
Pay attention to when you feel negative emotions and take time to slow down instead of reacting immediately. It will take some work, but it will help you grow as a person. Don’t be so hard on yourself or beat yourself up. If you’re feeling lonely or down, seek out some friends or go to a 12-step meeting. You’ll be able to connect with others who understand what you’re going through.
Consider Sober Living
Have you thought about sober living? Many people in recovery find that living with others in recovery is a powerful way to start their new life. Aftercare can also help you back on your feet. We offer the highest sober living standards, structure, sober living culture, and a safe space to get back on your feet. Call us at 760-216-2077.
Are you angry a lot of the time? Many people learn to react angrily to life on life’s terms because they haven’t developed alternative coping skills. Some people blame others for their anger and avoid taking control of it and learning how to cope with it. It can be a toxic emotion if you haven’t learned how to deal with it. Being always angry is also a symptom of depression. It’s hard to have the right attitude in recovery when everything in your head is negative.
If the above description reminds you of yourself, it’s time to shift your attitude. Just like anyone, you can change your attitude and learn to let go of anger.
Owning Your Anger in Recovery
Owning your anger is an important part of coping. It’s okay to feel your feelings, but you don’t have to act angry when you feel mad. “They make me angry” is something a lot of people tell themselves. Not everyone is a mind reader, and not everyone lives to do your bidding! If you’re angry, it’s because there’s some hurt inside of you.
You may be angry because your feelings were hurt, or because a situation reminds you of something in life that has happened before. Either way, the anger is yours and yours alone. Blaming others for your emotions isn’t healthy. Think about why you feel angry – what triggered you? Did you have a bad day? Were you frustrated because you were stuck in traffic? Did you feel embarrassed about something?
There is always emotion behind your anger, and much of the time, it’s something deep inside of you that you haven’t ever examined before.
Things to Do If You’re Angry
Instead of telling somebody off, flying into a rage, or punching a wall, take ten minutes when you’re angry. Here are a few things to try next time you’re mad:
- Call your sponsor.
- Go for a 15-minute walk.
- Go for a swim.
- Write in a journal.
- Listen to your favorite music.
- Read a book.
- Take a long shower.
- Share at a meeting.
- Make art.
- Share your feelings with a friend.
- Write a letter to the person you’re angry with. (DO NOT send it.)
- Binge watch your favorite show on Netflix.
- Cook dinner for everyone.
- Take the dog for a long walk.
- Jump rope.
- Say the serenity prayer.
- Hand wash the dishes.
- Clean the house.
- Mow the lawn.
As you can see, there are a lot of easy ways to get “out of” your angry head and begin to cool off. When you’re less inflamed, you can start to examine the reasons for your anger and a better way to approach your anger next time you’re feeling it.
Remember that recovery is about progress, not perfection. It’s the little things that help you build new patterns and make changes. Try to let go of your anger one day at a time.
Considering Sober Housing?
Recovery is a process, and many people like the idea of transitioning to the “real world” after treatment. Living with other people who have the same goals, in a safe and hopeful environment, can help you stay focused on yourself and your recovery. Learn more about your options by calling us at 760-216-2077.