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Managing Anger for Self-Advocates

A man is very angry.Everyone feels angry at times. It’s a normal reaction to many situations. Anger can help you stand up for yourself and protect yourself from others. However, anger can also become a problem if it interferes in your everyday living, such as at work or school, and affects your relationships with others. Learning ways to manage anger can help make sure it doesn’t affect you negatively.

Know Your Warning Signs

It’s unlikely you become angry without any warnings. Warning signs are clues your body gives to let you know you’re getting angry before it gets too intense. Learning your warning signs can help you know you’re getting angry and make changes while the anger is still manageable. See the resource “Anger Warning Signs” to learn more.

Take a Timeout

If you’re feeling angry, leaving the situation for a short time can help you calm down. This may mean taking a walk, going to another room, or removing yourself from what is making you angry. If other people are involved, explain to them that you need a break to calm down. When taking a time out, do something fun and relaxing, like listening to music, reading a book, watching TV, or doing something creative.

Deep Breathing

Deep breathing can be used to manage anger. It’s easy, effective, and can be done anywhere. Take a slow, deep breath in through your nose for 4 seconds, hold it for 1 second, and slowly exhale out through your mouth for 4 seconds. Be sure to count as it helps take your mind off the situation. See the resource “Deep Breathing” to learn more.

Visualization

Our brain can recreate emotions based on just our thoughts! Imagine a relaxing environment or remember a calming experience. Paint a picture of it in your head: image what you see, smell, hear, feel, and taste. Doing this can help you calm down, increase positive thoughts and emotions.

Exercise

Exercise helps reduce anger by releasing feel-good chemicals and giving our bodies a chance to physically release our anger. Go for a walk or jog, do some stretches at home, or join a gym or fitness class with your doctor’s permission.

Log Your Anger

Writing down your experiences of can help you learn from them. You can learn warning signs and triggers to your anger, which
can help you learn to recognize it earlier and avoid it if possible.

Express Your Anger

Once you’re calm, it’s important to express your anger. If you keep it bottled up and don’t let it out appropriately, you may end up experiencing the anger over and over. Write about your experiences or discuss it with a trusted friend or family member. Also, if another person made you angry, be sure to calmly discuss it with them.

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This information was developed by the Autism Services, Education, Resources, and Training Collaborative (ASERT). For more information, please contact ASERT at 877-231-4244 or info@PAautism.org. ASERT is funded by the Bureau of Supports for Autism and Special Populations, PA Department of Human Services.