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Relax! National Anger Awareness Week starts today – here’s how to enjoy a cool yule

This year has certainly tested everyone’s patience. We’ve been in and out of lockdown like the hokey cokey on repeat, everyone’s feeling stressed, anxious, depressed and, above all, angry.

The UN has described the worldwide increase in domestic abuse as a “shadow pandemic” alongside Covid-19.

It’s thought cases have increased by 20% during the lockdown, as many people are trapped at home with their abuser.

And to add to the angst Christmas is on the way. Just take a look at the stats!

• More than half of all Brits have family disagreements at Christmas.

• A quarter of all adults say their relationships with their partners come under pressure over the period, and an eighth say a festive argument made them want to split up.

• Calls to Relate go up – by 59% over Christmas.

• The average family has their first argument at 9.58am on Christmas Day morning.

Most likely reasons for increased anger are…

• Who’s doing the washing up

• Spending more time with family than usual

• Too much alcohol

• Battles over the TV remote control

So to take the heat out of the situation this year BAAM (British Association of Anger Management) encourages the British public to ‘own our anger’ and dispel some of the shame around this complex but widespread mental health condition.

American rapper Azealia Banks

BAAM says up to 50% of people in the UK are suffering from some form of anger. The celebrity world is certainly no stranger to rage. Famous names ordered to take anger management classes recently include rapper Azealia Banks, UFC fighter Conor McGregor, singer Justin Bieber and model Naomi Campbell. Tennis great John McEnroe has admitted that he’s taken anger management classes for many years.

With so many of us suffering from anger issues, Anger Awareness Week’s goal is to shatter taboos around this widespread and damaging mental health issue.

So, are you in denial about your anger?

Anyone suffering from ‘active aggression’ is usually easy to spot. Their anger takes the form of shouty outbursts (‘angergasms’), regular ranting and road rage-style confrontations. Active aggression is seen more in men than women.

‘Passive aggression’ though is internalised and more subtly expressed. Examples of passive aggression include office gossip, social media trolling, and ‘gaslighting’ a romantic partner. Passive aggression is usually, though not exclusively, seen in women.

Neither active, nor passive aggressive people want to undergo anger management! But eventually the active aggressive is given an ultimatum by their partner or employer. However, passive-aggressive sufferers require a trained eye to spot and are usually referred by a health professional or HR specialist.

To help passive aggressive anger sufferers identify their issues and begin addressing them, BAAM’s experts have created the ‘Which Anger Type are You?’ test which is available for anyone to take absolutely free on BAAM’s website. The public also have access to BAAM’s Covid-19 Anger and Anxiety Test and its ‘Keep Calm this Christmas’ downloadable PDF kit, plus anger guru Mike Fisher will be holding a special podcast in the first week of December offering practical anger management tips.

Mike says: “Anger is often simply anxiety and stress unhealthily expressed. Passive aggression in particular can be seen as a forerunner of depression. Anger and depression break down the immune system, encouraging ailments and more serious conditions such as cancers. They encourage self-medication with sugary foods, cigarettes, drink and drugs.

Conor McGregor

“With the C-19 pandemic forcing us to evaluate our lifestyles, now is the time to address the growing anger epidemic and ‘own our anger’.

“National Anger Awareness Week encourages people to think about how anger impacts their lives and find ways to deal with this powerful feeling. In fact, if channelled correctly anger can be a creative rather than a destructive force,” explains Fisher.

“BAAM constantly monitors the causes of anger and we have noticed an increase in rage caused by unavoidable, everyday events such as traffic incidents, queue jumping, social media and frustrations with modern technology. We need to find ways to cope and with the media highlighting anger and rage in our leaders and media stars, none of us are immune from experiencing this behaviour.”

Tips on how to have a cool Yule

Try not to give yourself a hard time about making Christmas perfect – it’s not all your responsibility and it is just one day in the year.

Think about what sets you off and figure out in advance how you are going to deal with it.

Plan ahead and think of the big picture (whatever the other person / thing does, it will all be over within a day (few days) and getting angry may not be worth the long term effect.

Think about the person who might make you angry: now write a list of their good points and think about the things you appreciate about that person (there is some good in all of us). Try to focus on those good things.

Plan to share the responsibility for the day. Share out chores with the children and the other adults. Get some firm agreements on what each person will do, so the success of the day isn’t on your shoulders entirely.

Agree beforehand with other family members some rules and arrangements that will help things go smoothly.

Listen carefully to what the other person is saying, and show you understand their point of view, even if you don’t agree with it. Choose your words carefully: rather than saying “you always…..” try saying “you sometimes……”.

Keep the volume down. Don’t shout, speak. Don’t argue, discuss.

Lessen your alcohol intake – alcohol is responsible for lots of arguments, and it is more difficult to keep a perspective when under the influence of drink. Drinking lowers your defences and changes your mood.

Try not to tackle controversial matters over the phone, email or texts. Body language and facial expressions are vital to appreciating the other person’s point of view.

Learn to break recurring conversations that always lead to an old argument. Take action and change the subject as smoothly as you can.

Take deep breaths and count to 10 if you are getting frustrated. Think about the consequences and step back.

Diane Cooke
Diane Cooke is a three times award-winning journalist who has worked for UK national/regional newspapers, magazines and websites.

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