Let er Rip!

Coping with anger is an important skill, especially when you have PTSD  (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Individuals with PTSD may experience high levels of anger and, as a result, they may be more likely to experience arguments and conflicts with others. In some cases, violent behavior may also result. Therefore, it’s important for people with PTSD to learn ways of effectively  managing their anger.

One simple strategy is to take a ‘time out.’  And it’s not just for kids! Taking a time out means temporarily removing yourself from an escalating situation so you can cool down.

Here’s how:

  1. Before a heated situation escalates, identify what you are going to do, or where you are going to go if you need a time out. Find a place that is quiet and relaxing for you, and, come up with ideas regarding how you can cool down—such as deep breathing or other helpful techniques.
  2. Recognize when your anger levels are increasing or when a situation is getting too heated for you. Pay attention to how your body feels. If you notice that your heart rate is increasing, or the level of tension in your body is escalating, you may be experiencing an early indication that your frustration and anger are on the rise. The quicker you catch your anger, the quicker you’ll manage it.
  3. If interacting with another person, tell them that you need a time out. However, don’t just get up and leave—instead, be assertive and use “I” statements.  For example, don’t say, “You make me so angry, I just have to leave the room.” Instead say, “I’m noticing that I am starting to get upset. I want to continue this conversation, but I want to make sure that things don’t get out of control. I’m going to take a few minutes to calm down, and then we can continue our conversation.”

Plan what you wish to say. It’s important to be very clear and open regarding how you feel, as well as your needs.

Once you identify your needs and your proposed actions, take steps to manage your anger or frustration. A number of different coping skills are available that can be useful in managing stress, and if you’re not clear about your options, the Internet is a great source for effective ideas and solutions.

“Anger dwells in the bosom of fools.”
– Albert Einstein

Keep in mind that a time out is supposed to be a way of cooling down. Make sure you don’t get caught up in maintaining or increasing your anger, such as engaging in negative self-talk. Find a useful way to prevent yourself from riding the anger rollercoaster.

Once you feel your anger and tension have reduced to a manageable level, think about the situation, and the actions you are going to take prior to returning to the situation. Plan what you wish to say and do, and stick to that plan.  When you have a good plan, return to the situation. If you are interacting with another person, express your appreciation, and thank them for giving you the opportunity to calm down.

In other words, plan for your success!