It’s a hard truth that recovery is not all serenity and pink clouds.
From your earliest days of abstaining from drugs and alcohol, you’re going to experience a tsunami of all kinds of new emotions – some positive, many negative, and some frightening.
It can be difficult to navigate an emotional tidal wave after numbing them all for years. Just stay clean and sober, and you’ll get through to the other side. But when it’s anger that surges up, your hard-won recovery may be threatened.
Anger can cause you to act out, harming yourself or the people around you. It may even cause you to relapse.
Here are some tips for anger management in recovery:
1. Look for the feeling underneath the anger.
Anger is such an overwhelming emotion that it can block out all other thoughts. But the reality is that anger and resentment most often a form of one of the more vulnerable emotions – fear, hurt, or guilt. If you’re courageous enough to look beyond the initial anger to figure out what’s really bothering you, you might be able to solve it at the root.
2. Take a 20-minute time out.
Researchers have found that it takes around 20 minutes for your reactive “monkey brain” to calm down after it is provoked. If you feel triggered, force yourself to take 20 minutes before responding. You’ll probably find that your response will be much more appropriate.
3. Call your sponsor.
Your sponsor gets it. They’ve been walking the road of recovery and have ridden the wave of anger many times. They can listen as you vent and help you find perspective – and maybe even ofa solution.
4. Get moving.
Taking a walk or exercising in some other way can help you get out of your head. Even better, exercise will help your body release endorphins that can boost your mood. Focused breathing during exercise will help center you, too.
5. Pray or meditate.
Working Step 11 each day can help you quiet your mind and clear out the negative thoughts that can keep piling up. Creating a prayer or meditation practice will help you learn techniques for centering yourself when triggering situations arise.