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10 ways to manage anger: tips for brain injury survivors

10 ways to manage anger: Tips for brain injury survivors

We’ve put together a list of 10 ways to help control and manage anger

Damage to the brain can cause emotional and behavioural changes. Many brain injury survivors experience problems managing anger.

This can lead to unpredictable, destructive and sometimes aggressive behaviour that can put a strain on relationships, work life and everyday activities.

We’ve put together a list of 10 ways to help control and manage anger:

  • Learn to appreciate just how powerful your thoughts are. They are automatic and can cause you to become angry for no apparent reason.

  • It is only your interpretation of a situation that makes you angry. You may be right, but always think about other interpretations first.

  • Write down how you feel when you are angry. You can show this to someone you trust later and get another point of view.

  • Practise noticing how tense your body feels when you are angry, then relax and feel the difference. You will then be able to measure how angry you are, when compared to how you feel when relaxed.

  • Try to notice the warning signs of your anger, such as shoulders rising up, breathing faster, clenching fists etc. Remove yourself from situations when you feel those warning signs.

  • Practise relaxation and breathing exercises to calm down.

  • Distract yourself by doing something you like, for example listening to music.
  • Remember, everything becomes more difficult when you are angry. Remind yourself that you deserve to keep yourself calm in order to make good decisions or put your point across.

  • When you feel yourself getting angry think of someone who normally calms you down. What might they say to you if they were there? Or think of a special calming place, piece of music or picture. Try to make this part of a routine that you can use regularly to help you cope.

  • Record when these ideas have helped. This will make it more likely that you will use them again when you have angry feelings in the future.
man with head in hands

From our online communities

  • “I've learned, after a couple of years of frequently 'losing it' that I have to close my mouth and walk away as soon as my humour deserts me.”
    - Cat3

  • “How have I coped? Basically recognising the problem, which is not so easy. Oh, and learning to count to ten...even twenty when needed!”
    - Paxo05

  • “Sometimes it's a build up and the smallest thing can be the final straw! Mostly I'm fairly good and I try to rationalise everything. If I do snap at someone I apologise as soon as possible. However I cannot always blame it on my BI. Actually talking it over with them, they sometimes admit it was their fault or they can understand why I snapped. Be honest with yourself and those around you.”
    - FatigueMox  

  • “Acceptance of what had happened and who I am now was key to a lot of good changes in my new life as a survivor of massive TBIs.”
    - Gary Kearney

  • “When I feel myself getting stressed & worked up I think of my family.”
    - Rachel Ashmore

Remember, managing anger is not about taking it away it is about giving you control and choice. Anger is a natural emotion and you may need it one day to give you a serious message. Try to anticipate your anger in order to stay one step ahead it. Don’t forget, if anger is causing a problem you should always speak to your doctor, who may be able to refer you to a specialist such as a neuropsychologist for further assessment and support.

You can get more detailed information in our booklet, Managing anger after brain injury (PDF), and you can contact our helpline to talk things through.  

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