Being Aware of Anger

Family Health Diary

I was fascinated to read that the UK have an Anger Awareness Week in early December. Of all the awareness weeks that exist, this surely is one that all of us could pay some attention to, because everyone gets angry at some point. If you say you don’t you must be so emotionally disconnected that you either don’t recognise it for what it is, or it’s deeply suppressed. Neither are good.

The awareness week suggests we befriend our anger and find ways to calm ourselves and others down, rather than fuel it and let it grow unchecked which can be hugely damaging.

You only need to look at our unsavoury stats on crime, domestic violence, child abuse, bullying, and road rage to see but a few out-workings of anger. Then there’s the inwards anger …. depression, self-esteem issues, or inability to adequately communicate feelings. Plus, the myriad of physical ailments that might have anger (suppressed or otherwise) as a contributor, from stress headaches through to heart attacks and beyond.

Add this end of the year to the mix and that’s a real doozy of a situation that can edge you further towards doing your bun. There’s end of year exams for students, end of year performances like shows, dance recitals and the like, and end of year prizegivings.

For the employed there’s work deadlines that all clamber on top of each other as we try to effectively try and make a 12-month year into an 11 month one, by signing off work projects before Christmas and lining up more for January. Then there’s the various work Christmas parties which can be pretty ‘special’ occasions with potentially all sorts of emotions surfacing, after a bit of truth juice is imbibed.

Home life is also not without stress. Christmas Day, the run up to it, and any holidays that might surround it can be a classic trigger for anger. Apparently more than half of Brits say they have family disagreements at Christmas and a quarter of all adults say their relationships come under pressure at this time of year, with an eighth taking it a step further saying they’d had an argument bad enough that it made them want to dissolve the relationship.

And if you were interested in a fun fact about family unity on Christmas Day… the average family apparently has their first argument at 9.58am!

I imagine if you surveyed Kiwis about discord and arguments around Christmas Day you’d find a very similar picture. Sorting food, presents, people, etc to all come together as one has its pitfalls. No doubt. For others though, there is no coming together, and no occasion, which is equally stressful. The UK anger awareness week is across all this festive fallout and has produced a ‘Keep Your Cool Over the Yule’ kit, which you’ll find here.

It’s got a great bunch of practical tips for the run up to Christmas and some good things to think about on the day itself, based on managing expectation, behaviours (yours and others) and recognizing those ‘red flag’ situations that lead us down a known, ugly old route. And a reminder that alcohol does not help. Alcohol and anger are dangerous bed friends.

As they say – managing anger is an important key to controlling stress, anxiety and depression, none of which add to our lives in any positive way.  So deep breath…it’s December, and it’ll be ok…


Written by Jude Dobson

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