By Lara Pickford-Gordon
Over the past five weeks starting May 26 the Catholic News has discussed anger, the physiological response, underlying triggers, the destructive and constructive sides. We conclude with information on ways to cope bearing in mind, some persons may have to seek professional help.
Counselling psychologist Anna Maria Mora shared the following information.
“Simply put the brain has two sides—the left side is our logical, clinical side that has the ability to make rational decisions, the right side is our creative, emotional side. It is this right side that is activated when we become angry. Because of this there are some coping mechanisms that can be used with both adults and children” she said.
The Butterfly Hug: Cross your arms in front of you with the palm of your hands gently touching the area between your collarbone, and your shoulder. Begin an alternate tapping—right, left, right, left—keep tapping alternate sides and you will begin to calm down. Why? Because the action activates the logical left side and a balance is created between the logical and emotional—the emotional side calms down and both the logical and emotional are now in synchrony.
Relaxation Exercises: Deep breathing is also very necessary to help to calm us down. We [psychologists] have recognised that when persons are angry or very emotional, their breathing is very short and hurried.
The brain uses three times as much oxygen as muscles in the body. Brain cells are very sensitive to decreased oxygen levels and do not function well without it. Continuing to breathe hard and short can cause us to get confused, dizzy and irrational. Many of us do not breathe properly. Breathing involves getting the oxygen into your lower stomach which is supposed to fill out like a balloon.
Breathe in for five counts and then breath out slowly of ten counts. Children can be taught to breathe properly. When you look at a baby or any person asleep the breathing is a perfect example of what must happen when we breathe to get oxygen to the brain to clear it and calm us down.
Physical Exercise: This activates our deep breathing process and the brain is fed with the necessary oxygen and we feel great after exercise. This is why we recommend that when the blood begins to boil and breathing becomes fast and short that you leave the area, go for a run or brisk walk. The activity naturally causes us to breathe deeply and the much-needed calming serotonin is activated in our brain. Serotonin is called the happy chemical and it contributes to well-being and happiness.
Art Therapy: Both children and adults benefit from Art Therapy as an anger management strategy. Putting paints, brushes and paper in front of them and asking them to express what their anger looks like helps both the therapist and the “angry” person to have a “picture” and now there is common ground for discussion.
Visualisation: Closing the eyes, breathing deeply and visualising the place or space where you would like to be at this very moment. Describe the place out loud and both client and therapist can have a conversation around this. Calm usually follows this activity.
Parents: Think out solutions to what is causing the anger. A teenager’s messy room? Close the door and go about your business. When you are calm, you can have a discussion about the issue and ask the teenager for help, maybe, getting agreement to clean their room once a week or however long she/he suggests.
Work with him/her not to eat on their bed or in the room and discuss the pests-cockroaches, rodents etc. At times agree to disagree but in the end a solution can be found.
You can do some visualisation of your own, discussing that you are raising a reasonable, bright, caring young man/woman and you being proud that she/he is now approaching young adulthood etc.. She/he will be out on their own in a few years (this usually raises a teenager’s eyebrows or causes wrinkles in the forehead) and the skills needed to live on his/her own. You must be calm and serious when doing this. This latter might send the teen to clean room immediately!
Adults (couples): Use ‘I’ messages. Do not begin the ‘blame game’.
Old communication: “You are so lazy. You never help me around the house.” The “you, you, you” puts the other person on the defensive and back and forth accusations follow. Here you must realise that anger does not solve anything, but can make everything worse.
New communication: “I am very upset because I had a really hard day at work and got home and saw all the wares in the sink. I really do need help tonight. I need a shower badly. I am going to have one.” See where this takes the relationship.