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A First Steps guide to

Controlling anger and frustration

First Steps, Version 2, March 2013


Controlling anger and frustration

Wound up Rage I cant take any more Frustrated Boiling over

are just a few of the words commonly used to describe anger.

Anger is a normal healthy emotion that is part of our bodys survival mechanism. However, at times it can be triggered at a time when it is not helpful which can have a significant impact on a persons function, happiness, relationships and self-esteem. Anger and frustration are often associated with loud and aggressive behaviour, but it is just as common for a person to withdraw and bottle up their emotions. This booklet aims to give some information on anger with self-help strategies that are known to be helpful in managing anger in a more positive and helpful way.

In a recent survey for the Mental Health Foundation, 28% of adults said they worry about how angry they sometimes feel, and 32% have a friend or relative who has problems dealing with anger.

Using self-help tools The strategies/tools suggested in this handout and during this session are evidence based methods of managing emotions and reducing the effects the way that we feel has on our everyday life. We are all individuals and respond to situations in different ways therefore not every tool will work with everyone. For example, some people find meditation and reading really relaxing, whilst for someone else this could be a cause of stress and their preferred relaxation method is to go to the gym. There are no set rules for managing emotions. A helpful way of thinking about this could be to think is my current method working for me? If the answer is yes, then great, but if not, these strategies may be an alternative way that is more productive for you. As with any new skill, self-help can take time and practice. In the same way that reading a cookery book will not instantly make you a great cook, simply reading this material will not make you instantly happy and healthy. But with time, practice and exploration it is possible for everybody to experience emotional well-being. Self-help alone may not be adequate for everybody. If you feel that you need more support, it is important to discuss this with your GP. In addition please look at our website (, or call our phone line/email us for more advice.

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Controlling anger and frustration

What is in this booklet?

Page Why do we feel angry and frustrated What is anger What causes anger The vicious cycle of anger What an angry episode does to our body Becoming aware of the effects anger has on our physical health Helpful facts about anger and frustration The stress jug analogy Beliefs about anger that can be unhelpful Strategies for controlling anger and frustration Unhelpful thinking styles Challenging angry thoughts Coping strategies Distraction techniques Relaxation techniques to help control anger Lifestyle changes Useful contacts 4 4 5 7 9 10 10 12 13 14 15 17 19 21 22 25 27

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Controlling anger and frustration

Why do we feel angry and frustrated?

Anger is a normal emotion that we all feel at times. Things that can make you feel angry include: Feeling upset, sad or low in your mood Feeling anxious or stressed Being tired, hungry or in pain Losing someone you love (grief) Feeling undervalued Feeling misunderstood Feeling threatened Medical conditions or coming off certain medicines Stimulants Lack of sleep and/or feeling tired Alcohol Sexual frustration Feeling out of control Situations that feel unfair or unjust

What is anger?
Our levels of anger can vary from being felt as a mild annoyance or irritation to an extreme feeling of rage. For some people, anger can get out of control and cause problems with relationships, work and even the law. Uncontrolled anger can lead to arguments and physical fights, but sometimes it causes people to bottle up emotions and feel withdrawn. It can cloud your thinking and judgment and may lead to actions that are unreasonable and/or irrational. Uncontrolled anger often leads to feelings of depression and low self-worth.

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What causes anger?

When a person thinks of their cause of anger they often look for something that has happened to them, a situation, event or other peoples behavior. We call these our external causes of anger. We also have a second cause of anger: our own thoughts, feelings and beliefs and interpretation of the event or situation which we call our internal causes of anger. The two are very closely linked and it is a combination of both the internal and external causes that leads us to feel the way that we do.

Events There may be certain events or situations which are more likely to trigger an angry reaction. This will be different for different people and could include things such as debt, inconsiderate driving, rude behaviour or harm to a loved one.

Our thinking styles Our interpretation of an event and thoughts that we have about the situation may account for us feeling frustrated or angry. For example, a situation in which we feel wronged in some way can be particularly difficult. Or where we feel that an injustice has been made that we feel is unacceptable. The way we think about anger may also influence the way we express or control it. For example, we may we think that anger should be hidden or bottled up rather than expressed. This style of coping may be beneficial in the short term, but will often have a long-term cost. Finding other ways to manage emotions in a more appropriate and sensitive way will have a more positive effect.

Behavioural causes Throughout our lives we learn to react to events or situations in certain ways. This is shaped, and continues to be shaped, by our role models and experiences from birth to the present day. Our learnt experiences often account for the fact that some people seem better able to manage their feelings of frustrations or anger in a constructive and helpful way, whilst others may bottle up their feelings or have unhelpful outbursts. As a consequence a learnt pattern of unhelpful behaviours can build up, which in the long term can become more and more difficult to overcome. It could be that you may not have had the opportunities to learn effective ways of managing and expressing your emotions in the past, but everyone can learn to constructively express their emotions in the future.

In reality it is likely that a mixture of all these causes will affect how someone experiences anger. However, in some ways it is more important to know what stops us moving past anger, than what causes it

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What are your common triggers for anger? Outside world (people, events, noise)

Inside world (thoughts, worries, memories)

What maintains anger? There may be a noticeable pattern of triggers to feeling frustrated or angry. For example, whilst driving, looking after the children or when you start talking about money. It might be that our thoughts and experiences in these situation affect how we anticipate the outcome to be in the future, which can cause people to feel stuck in a vicious cycle. There may be consequences which reinforce angry behaviour; both costs and benefits. In some instances people learn that angry behaviour can achieve short-term gain. For example, having others respect your status or getting your own way. It can also be associated with significant long-term costs, such as damaged relationships. Considering and recognising your own benefits and costs is important when looking for more helpful ways of managing frustrations and anger. When looking more closely at what prevents us from overcoming unhelpful anger, it becomes clear that our behaviour, thoughts, feelings and physical sensations all interact and combine to create a vicious cycle of anger.

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The vicious cycle of anger

The diagram below illustrates the link between the situation, the thoughts we are having in the situation, how we behaved, how our body felt and our mood. When we are angry we are usually aware of our emotions, angry and frustrated, however we are sometimes less aware of the way we are thinking or feeling physically, which are often the things which maintains the emotion. OUTSIDE WORLD Debts and practical problems Problems with people Not enough time for yourself INNER WORLD

THOUGHTS Youre making a fool of me People think Im stupid Im not being heard Im always being let down I hate this place

EMOTIONS Frustrated Angry Guilty Low

BODILY FEELINGS Tense Shaking Racing heart Chest pains

BEHAVIOUR Shouting Getting into fights Slamming doors Avoiding situations

Bodily signs of anger can lead us to feel out of control and this can make our mood worse. The angry hot thoughts can make us feel even more enraged

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Your own example Does a similar vicious circle of anger happen to you? Using the cycle of anger diagram below, see if you can think of a situation in which you felt particularly angry and/or frustrated and identify the thoughts that you were having at the time.







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What an angry episode does to our body

Anger is a last-ditch survival response, designed to help us survive when faced with a life-ordeath situation. This response is called our fight or flight response. Our bodies are not designed to sustain a prolonged period of heightened arousal. Hence constant anger in a person can lead to physiological problems due to the strain on the body. Other emotions that trigger this response include fear, excitement and anxiety. The adrenal glands flood the body with stress hormones, such as adrenalin and cortisol. The brain diverts blood away from the gut and towards the muscles, in preparation for physical exertion, whilst our heart rate, blood pressure and respiration increase, the body temperature rises and the skin perspires. The mind becomes more focused and alert. Heres how anger affects a person

Dilated pupils

Flushed/pale face as blood is diverted to the major muscles

Increased breathing rate to increase the bodys oxygen levels

Increased sweat production to help to cool the body

Palpitations and/or chest pains to transport oxygenised blood to fuel the major muscles and organs


Cold hands as blood is diverted away from the extremities

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Becoming aware of the effects anger has on our physical health

The constant flood of stress chemicals and associated metabolic changes that accompany recurrent unmanaged anger can eventually cause harm to many different systems of the body. Some of the short- and long-term health problems that have been linked to unmanaged anger include:

Headache Digestion problems, such as abdominal pain Insomnia Increased anxiety Depression High blood pressure Skin problems, such as eczema Heart attack Stroke

Helpful facts about anger and frustration

Anger can be a positive and empowering emotion if used constructively. Anger is a normal emotional response which everyone experiences from time to time. The goal of effective anger control is not to eliminate anger altogether, but to learn to channel it into behaviour that is productive not destructive. The use of more positive behaviours such as problem solving and assertiveness can improve your life. Aggression is a learnt behaviour that can be changed. Motivation and commitment to change are essential to successful anger control. Although we may be born with the potential to be aggressive, we learn different ways of behaving as we develop and mature, which are influenced by those around us. For some of us this might mean we learn to be aggressive or to bottle up our feelings. However, in the same way as our body may have learnt to react in an unhelpful way, we can teach our bodies to react in a more helpful, constructive manner. The beliefs that we develop influence the way we understand people and situations. Our learnt beliefs affect how we see a situation and can lead us to behave in a certain way. Holding irrational beliefs can lead to irrational behaviour. This relates to long-term thoughts and our views about how the world should be. For example, believing that life should always be fair inevitably leads to disappointment and frustration, and can ultimately result in us taking our frustrations out on others. Recognising that life is not always fair can give us a different perspective on life.

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An understanding of what we think affects the way we behave. This increases our ability to control ourselves. Recognising our thoughts and feelings about an event or situation, and the impact they have, is one of the first steps to controlling our behaviour. Recognising patterns of thinking, such as the tendency to think in an all or nothing way may help you to identify your negative thoughts so that you can then challenge them. Learning to challenge these thoughts by considering alternative explanations can reduce conflict and the potential for aggression. What you feel affects the way you think and behave. Positive and negative feelings are common to us all. The degree to which we experience these emotions affects our perceptions of situations and also the way that we react. Recognising our negative emotions and learning to reduce their impact on our thoughts can help us control our behaviour. Anger has a physical component. An awareness of how the body reacts physically can be used as an early warning sign to help you calm down by using coping strategies before it is too late. Symptoms such as increased heart rate and tense muscles can be alleviated through techniques such as relaxation. Aggression almost always results in negative consequences for ourselves and others. Knowing the negative short- and long-term consequences of aggression reinforces the understanding that it is always better to manage anger and frustration. Managing aggressive impulses can result in better relationships, increased self-esteem and more positive consequences in general. Knowing the specific factors that are likely to make you aggressive will help you to cope with them as they arise. Underlying factors such as negative life experiences can influence the way that you view the world and make you particularly sensitive. Loss of control is usually a result of a build up of small irritants that have not been dealt with. These, along with everyday pressures can work together to create an aggressive reaction that is out of proportion to the actual situation. Sometimes the final trigger or last straw can be a relatively minor incident. An imbalance of chores and pleasures in your general lifestyle could increase the likelihood of feeling angry or frustrated. Looking after yourself and your needs will make life more pleasurable and rewarding.

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The stress jug analogy

As humans, we only have a certain capacity for managing stress. Imagine that all of your stress was in a jug. The fuller your jug is, the greater the symptoms of stress will be. Once the jug is full, your ability to manage any situation that arises is greatly compromised, which is why you may feel less able to cope with matters that would normally have no effect on you. Some of your jug is already filled with the anxieties of life that we cannot avoid, (i.e. money, illness, family, not having enough time for yourself, etc.). Therefore, if you have a large source of stress in one area of your life that is filling your jug, your capacity to manage stress in the other areas will be compromised. You may feel that you manage your stressful job very well, for example, but feel that you are unable to cope with any stresses at home or vice versa. If you partially empty your jug on a daily basis, you can avoid it over-flowing which will help you to reduce your symptoms and to feel more in control. It may be that you are unable to change the main contributor to your stress, but if you can do something about your other sources of stress, you will feel better able to cope.

You can empty a little out of your jug on a daily basis by using self-help techniques to: Look at your stressors to see if there is anything you can do to reduce the level of stress they produce or if you could manage them in a different way Identify if the stressful situation is really your responsibility. If not, could it be delegated to someone else or could your energy be better used elsewhere? Have time to relax. This may be by completing a relaxation routine, playing a sport or socialising, etc.

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Beliefs about anger that can be unhelpful

There are many beliefs surrounding anger that only help to maintain feelings of stress and anger. The beliefs are sometimes held because of life experiences or personal values. Some people may have lived with these beliefs for a long time and have become to accept them as truths. It is important to question these beliefs and see how true they really are. Ive inherited my anger from my mother/father so I cant do anything about it Although people can be born with tendencies towards being more emotional, it is the way we react to our environment that is the cause of our anger and this is a learnt behaviour that can be changed. If I dont let my anger out, Ill explode Whilst it is true that keeping your anger in can be bad for your health, it is important to make sure you release and manage your anger in a way that is assertive rather than aggressive. Anger protects me If you are feeling vulnerable or afraid, you may feel that it is safer to communicate in an angry or aggressive way. This will only mask your anxiety, rather than allow you to address the situation and move forward. It often leaves you feeling more vulnerable in the longer term as relationships and support break down. I have good reason to be angry Anger is a natural reaction when we are mistreated or taken advantage of. Maybe at some point someone was unfair to you, but you must ask yourself how staying angry will benefit you in this situation. Is maintaining your anger really working for you? Letting go is an important step to take when nothing can be done about a situation. It is not about accepting or agreeing with the situation, rather just recognising that whilst it was unfair, continuing to be angry is not helpful to you or those around you.

Examining long term held beliefs about anger and then challenging those beliefs that have been unhelpful in the past can help to improve the way we view a situation

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Strategies for controlling anger and frustration

So far we have looked at what anger is, the different parts of anger and what causes it. The next part of the booklet is looking at useful strategies to help you learn more effective ways of managing anger. The good news is that whilst we cant control the events that take place in our everyday life, we can start to challenge the ways in which we respond to them, and in turn break the vicious cycle of anger. Get to know the signs The first step to breaking the cycle is to become more aware of the ways that anger affects you. Think about this and make some notes on when youre angry: The way you feel physically The emotions you experience The way you think The things that you do Notes:

The second step is to try to break the cycle which can be done in a number of ways Challenge any negative thinking Challenging unhelpful thoughts and the unhelpful thinking patterns and distortions Learning personal coping strategies Communicating your anger in a positive way Change your behavioural patterns or actions Distraction techniques Change your behavioural patterns or actions Relaxation and lifestyle Techniques to reduce the physical feelings of anger Lifestyle changes Alcohol
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Unhelpful thinking styles

If we look back to the vicious cycle of anger on page seven, it becomes clear that if we can challenge our angry thoughts and reduce the physical symptoms of anger then we can really start to control anger and avoid getting to the point were we behave in an unhelpful way.

Remember, some people find it difficult to recognise their unhelpful angry thoughts as they have become so automatic. If you feel that this is the case for you, it can be helpful to try to recognise any thoughts after the event or if this is not possible just recognise that these thoughts are there

Taking things personally People can often take things personally which results in increased emotions including frustrations and anger. Do you often assume criticism is a personal attack on you or an attempt to help you perform? Think about both at work and/or at home. Do you assume that if a person doesnt speak to you it is because they are ignoring you or that they may just be shy or have not seen you?

Does this sound familiar to you? Can you think of times when you take things personally and feel hurt or angry? Write down some examples . . . .

Ignoring the positive People tend to ignore the positives in life and this can particularly be the case when somebody is experiencing emotional distress. When people are frustrated or angry, they tend to focus more on the negative aspects of a situation, when there may be an alternative, more balanced perspective. This can increase their feelings of frustration.

Do you sometimes ignore the positives? Write down any recent examples . . . . .

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Perfectionism Sometimes anger can be caused when we expect too much of ourselves. When you set a goal, set a realistic target. Push yourself, but only within what you can realistically achieve. Otherwise, we set ourselves up for disappointment when we do not meet the targets, which in turn can lead to anger directed at both ourselves and others. Using the should or must words puts unnecessary pressure on ourselves. I should be able to do this, for example, could be changed to I will do my best.

Can you sometimes expect perfection from yourself or others? Write down some examples . . . .

Black and white thinking There are often shades of grey in life, or compromises to be made, but we sometimes see things as if they are black or white, or all or nothing. These can be pressures we place on ourselves or on other people. If someone does not always keep to their word, for example, there are often reasons that the person has let you down. We have a tendency to automatically blame people, but might be better served if we try to see things from the other persons point of view. Black and white thoughts about our own performance may be if I dont do it brilliantly, there is no point in doing it at all.

Do you sometimes think in black and white, all or nothing terms without comprising? Write down some examples . . . .

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Challenging angry thoughts

Once we learn to recognise our unhelpful thinking styles, we can then start to look at alternative ways of thinking.

What is the evidence? What evidence do I have to support my thoughts? What evidence do I have that tells me that the thought is not true?

What alternative views are there? How would someone else view this situation? What would I say to my friend if they were in same situation?

What is the effect of thinking the way I do? Does it help me, or does it keep me from getting what I want? How?

What thinking distortion am I making?

What action can I take? What can I do to change my situation? Am I overlooking solutions to problems on the assumption they wont work?

What is the worst possible outcome? What is the worst thing that can happen and how bad would that really be? What is the probability of that actually happening?

What is the best possible outcome? What is the best thing that can happen and what is the probability of that actually happening?

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Try completing the follow questions. Select and note three unhelpful thoughts with which you most identify:

1. 2. 3.

For each of these thoughts, identify how you act when you think that way:

1. 2. 3.

Now look again at the thoughts, can you think of more realistic alternatives?

1. 2. 3.

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Coping strategies
Self-calming statements What we think affects the way we feel. Distorted thinking can increase the likelihood of negative emotions such as anger, while calming or challenging thoughts can reduce the impact of these feelings. In effect we are balancing our angry hot thoughts with positive, calming thoughts. Self-calming statements are thoughts that can be: 1. prepared in advance to anticipate and cope with a situation or trigger 2. used to cope with the situation or trigger when it arises 3. used to calm ourselves down after the situation or trigger has passed For example: Distorted thought Self-calming statement Hes getting at me Dont take it personally

It is also important to note that distraction is a specific coping strategy for rumination and should not be used to avoid dealing with and resolving situations.

Personal coping strategies

Try to thinking of some ways in which you can start to challenge your angry thoughts by completing the examples below.

A. Self-calming statements Before a situation. For example, Remember, stick to the issues and dont take it personally

During a situation. For example, I dont need to prove myself

Coping with physical tension. For example, Its time to take a deep breath

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Afterwards If the conflict is unresolved. For example, Ill get better at this as I get more practice

If the conflict is resolved. For example, Ive proven I can do it

B. Distraction Note at least two ways of distracting yourself that you could use:

C. Rationalising Note at least two things you can say to yourself to help you see the situation from another perspective:

D. Self-praise Note at least two things you could say to yourself to reinforce your success:

E. Focusing on the task Note at least two things you could say to yourself to keep you focused on what you are doing:

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Distraction techniques
These are not long-term solutions to anger or frustration, because they are not challenging the root of the problem, but you may find them useful in the short-term. As with all strategies, some will work better for you than others Take a walk Take several slow, deep breaths Describe an object to yourself Tense and relax your muscles Call a friend, neighbour, family member for a talk Try to find the humour in an angry situation Think of what you may say to a friend. This will help you gain a different perspective. Keep in mind that we are all humans, subject to making mistakes Take a time out stop what you are doing when you feel your anger growing and walk away until calm Count to 10 (or even 100) Drink a glass of water Do you have any useful techniques of your own?

Change your behavioural patterns or actions

Think before reacting Pause before reacting. Impulsive reactions can be unhelpful and may lead to feelings of regret. Giving yourself time to think helps you rationalise any automatic thoughts and to think of any consequences to your actions.

Focusing on the task This technique helps us to focus on the objective or task that needs to be accomplished. It is easy to get side-tracked into irrelevant and personal issues. Reminding ourselves of our goal (for example, getting permission to have the day off work or getting the car repaired) will help to detach ourselves from the negative feelings we may be experiencing in the situation.

Self-praise After a difficult situation has passed, we may still be left with unpleasant feelings, particularly if we have held ourselves back from losing control. Praising ourselves for remaining in control, for example, can help to make us feel better about the situation and ourselves, and increases the likelihood of future success.

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Relaxation techniques to help control anger

When we feel angry we may be very aware of how tense we feel, our heart may be racing and we begin to feel shaky. Trying to control these bodily reactions when we start to feel angry can help us to break the vicious cycle of anger. It can take time to learn these new relaxation skills, but they can be very effective in reducing the physical symptoms of anger and to help you to stay in control.

Deep breathing If you can restore youre breathing to a slower, more even and calmer pace, your body will begin to relax. As your lungs move rhythmically and gently in and out, there is a soothing effect on the muscles of your whole body. This exercise helps to reduce the physical feelings associated with anger and also just as importantly distracts you from the hot thoughts that you may be thinking. Targeting the physical symptoms and the thoughts that are causing you to feel angry will help to break the vicious cycle of anger.

How to control your breathing Instead of using the upper chest area, you need to learn to breathe from the stomach area, using your diaphragm. Correct breathing will help to relax you. To learn to do this: 1. 2. 3. 4. Sit back comfortably in a chair before beginning breathing control. Become aware of your breathing. Breathe gently and slowly. Place one hand on your upper chest and the other over your tummy. Transfer most of your breathing to your tummy so that the movement occurs there. Your stomach muscles should rise and fall as you breathe. As you inhale your stomach moves out slightly. As you exhale your stomach moves in slightly. It will help to count as you breathe. Concentrate on the number three. Breathe in for three counts and out for four counts. Maintain a steady, comfortable rhythm and try to avoid holding your breath in between each count. Imagine that as you exhale you are breathing out tension from your body and letting it go. And when you inhale that you are breathing in fresh strength and energy. In order for this technique to become beneficial you will need to practice it regularly so that your body can benefit from its value. Practice twice a day for 5 minutes at a time. Return to normal breathing if you start to feel dizzy.




When you are familiar with the exercise you will be able to apply it routinely in situations where you notice the physical symptoms of anger starting within you

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Square breathing This is a simple exercise that helps you to control your breathing whilst distracting yourself from your thoughts or the situation. Look at something square or imagine a square in your head Breathe in to the count of four. Imagine moving up along the side of the square Pause briefly whilst you imagine moving across the top of the square Then breathe out to the count of six, whilst imagining moving down the side and across the bottom of the square Continue as above Pause

Breathe in

Breathe out

Visualisation A quick way of getting away from a situation without physically leaving. Imagine yourself walking to a door Open the door and walk down the three steps, taking a deep breath for each of the steps You walk into an environment where you feel relaxed and calm. This could be a familiar place, a happy memory, or somewhere in your dream. What can you see? What can you hear? What can you smell? What can you touch? Spend a few minutes in this place, enjoying the feeling of relaxation. When you feel ready, start to make your way back up the steps, taking a breath for each of the 3 steps. Make your way back through the door and back into the present situation

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Muscle relaxation Sit comfortably and take a few deep breaths. Now focus on your body, tensing and relaxing each of the muscle groups in the following order: Feet point your toes away from your body, hold, then relax Calves bend your foot at the ankle towards you, hold, then relax Thighs push your knees together, hold, then relax Bottom clench your buttocks together underneath you, hold, then relax Stomach pull in your stomach muscles, hold, then relax Hands clench your fists, hold, then relax Hands (again) stretch the fingers wide apart, hold, then relax Arms bend your arms at the elbow, bringing your hands up towards the shoulders, hold, then relax Shoulders hunch your shoulders up towards your ears hold, then relax Neck pull your chin forwards on to your chest hold, then relax Neck (again) stretch your chin up, pushing your neck back, hold, then relax Jaw clench teeth together, hold, then relax Lips press tightly together, hold, then relax Eyes screw up eyes tightly, hold, then relax Forehead frown hard, wrinkle forehead, hold then relax

In each case, as you relax the muscles feel the tension draining away. Notice the difference between tension and relaxation.

Unhelpful strategies Constantly dwelling on a past event you can not change history, but you can change the way that it affects you now. It is not about accepting or condoning an event or situation but is about finding a way of it not continuing to adversely affect your life not. Keeping thoughts and feelings bottled up this can cause anger and/or health problems and sooner or later pent up feelings will have to be let out Blaming taking responsibilities for your own actions and feelings (including positives as well as negatives) Using alcohol or other drugs to dull anger they may mask angry feelings, but this will only be short-term and wont solve the anger

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Lifestyle changes
Physical activity and healthy eating There is a strong link between emotional well-being and general good health. Your general emotional well-being is an important part of how well you get by on a day-to-day basis. Feeling emotionally and physically well may mean that you feel more inclined to socialise and spend time with others which can reduce feelings of low mood and loneliness. We often say to ourselves that we will do what we enjoy when we feel better. More often than not, though, we feel better when we do what we enjoy. As part of this, it can be useful to look at your eating and activity patterns. A balanced, healthy diet can make you feel better about yourself as well as being beneficial to your body and immune system. A balanced diet will help your body and mind work more efficiently. Regular exercise is good for us in many ways: it increases our confidence and self-esteem; it stimulates "feel good" chemicals in our bodies; it provides an outlet for tension and frustration; it relieves anxiety; helps us relax; helps us sleep better and helps to prevent physical illness, such as heart disease and osteoporosis. The type of activity that you do will vary according to your physical health, fitness, the amount of time you have and how much you enjoy it. It is recommended that you do 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity across a week; this can include shopping, gardening, housework, etc. You might find that it is easier to break this into three ten minutes bursts, or thirty minute sessions, on five days of the week. It is important to try to focus on things that you are able to do rather than the things that you cannot.

Healthy eating tips Base your meals on starchy (carbohydrate) foods for energy e.g. wholegrain bread/cereal/pasta, brown rice, jacket potatoes Eat lots of fruit and vegetables Eat more fish including 1 portion of oily fish per week Cut down on saturated fat and sugar sugary and processed foods can increase irritability and emotional fragility, plus reducing these foods reduces the risk of high blood cholesterol and cardiovascular disease Try to eat less salt 6g max for adults the effects of excess salt, sugar and caffeine can mimic stress responses Drink plenty of water or other fluids Cut down on caffeine as it can increase mood swings, symptoms of anxiety and interfere with sleep try herbal teas instead Do not use alcohol, drugs or cigarettes to cope Dont skip breakfast

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Alcohol Alcohol is a depressant which can have a negative affect on how we feel too, it also increasing our blood sugar levels, which alters our mood. Alcohol can have a significant affect on how we behave. Alcohol can interfere with our ability to restrain impulsive behaviour and can cause us to misread social cues. We can also overreact to situations which normally wouldnt bother us, and our ability to accurately anticipate the consequences of our actions can also be impaired. As a result, some people may experience an increase in boisterous behaviour whilst others can become withdrawn. At the most severe end, inappropriate expression of anger and aggression can lead to abusive behaviour and violence.

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Useful contacts
First Steps 0808 801 0325 - Monday and Wednesday 10 to 4.30pm and Thursday 11 to 5.30pm. The helpline will be open on a Tuesday following a Bank Holiday

The Samaritans 08457 90 90 90 - 24 hour helpline

Relate 01788 573 241 or 0845 456 1310 Counselling for adults with relationship difficulties Me ns Advice Line Mens Advice Line Advice and support for men in abusive relationships including a telephone helpline and for men who are concerned about their abusive behaviours 0808 801 03278 -

Everyman Project Helpline: 0207 263 8884 Information and support for men who have anger management issues

Mind Infoline Tel: 03000 123 3393 Provides information on a range of topics: types of mental distress and where to get help.

National Debt Line Tel: 0808 808 4000 Help for anyone in debt or concerned they may fall into debt

Surrey Domestic Violence Helpline 01483 776822

Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services Surrey now has a number of services providing guided self-help and therapeutic interventions for people with mild to severe mental ill health. All require a GP referral

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Books The Surrey County Council Library has a very helpful list of self-help books that can be accessed from the following libraries: Camberley, Dorking, Epsom, Farnham, Godalming, Guildford, Horley, Oxted, Redhill, Staines, Walton-on-Thames, Woking

You can find the list at if you search Read Yourself Well. Many of these libraries also have a self-checkout option, which means you can take out a book without anyone knowing the book that you choose.

First Steps

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Controlling anger and frustration