5 Tips To Manage Your Chronic Illness Anger

This blog was originally published on upwell.com

Don’t let chronic illness get the best of your emotions. Learn what can help you reduce and control your anger.

There is not a single chronically ill person who hasn’t been angry, sad, and/or irritated by his or her illness at some point. I have struggled with anger over the years, sometimes lashing out at myself and at others because of all the emotion that illness brings with it. And that is definitely not healthy!

Chronic illness and pain can cause people to be angry—angry at life, their bodies and limitations, and the attitudes of others. While anger, in some regard, is healthy, it becomes a problem when you choose to deny that you are sick and don’t take action to better your health.

Here are five healthy steps you can take to alleviate anger associated with chronic illness and pain:

1. Get support
Talking with others who have experienced similar frustrations can help you release feelings of dissatisfaction and rage. Illness-specific support groups are great places to vent, express concerns, and feel accepted and understood.

Let the important people in your life know how you are feeling. They can motivate you, offer support, and help you manage angry reactions. Further, you can alleviate stress and angry feelings when you spend time with people you care about.

2. Share your experiences
Putting your experiences in words—whether written or spoken—can be helpful. Research has shown that people who write or talk about traumatic events in descriptive and emotionally filled ways have fewer health problems than those who do not.

Giving verbal or written form to your emotions brings about a better understanding of what you are feeling. Moreover, it allows you to see things with a different and better perspective. When you can understand what you are experiencing, your emotions can change from anger and frustration to relief and awareness.

3. Change your beliefs
Anger is often the result of unreasonable expectations and demands on yourself. We have this notion that life should somehow be fair, but unfairness exists. The idea of inequality gives people a reason to be angry, especially when it comes to health issues and chronic illness. Insisting that life should be fair is unreasonable, and if you think the universe has simply picked you to suffer, your beliefs can fuel angry feelings that lead to depression.

Learn to let go and accept that life is just unfair sometimes. You can work constructively toward management of your illness and transform your anger into passion. Enjoy life in spite of the unfairness that chronic illness brings. Focus on what you can control, and don’t waste your time and energy dwelling on what you have little power over.

4. Get professional help
If your anger is negatively impacting your relationships and causing you to feel stressed, consider getting professional help. Talking to a therapist can ease pressures created by living with a chronic disease. Look for a therapist who helps people dealing with long-term health conditions.

5. Acknowledge and accept anger
For many chronically ill people, accepting and acknowledging feelings of anger and frustration can help them make sense of what they are feeling. In doing so, you can be honest with yourself about finding ways to manage angry feelings.

Managing anger
Once you recognize you are angry, choose healthy methods to manage those feelings. When you start feeling angry, try one or more of the following techniques:
• Use deep breathing to help you relax. Yoga and meditation are also great relaxation options.
• Tell yourself to stop. This thought can interrupt the anger you are feeling.
• Count to 20 before you respond.
• Distract yourself by thinking positive thoughts, or try listening to your favorite song, daydreaming about an upcoming vacation, or taking a walk.
• Talk yourself out of these feelings and consider the facts of an angry situation or feeling.

Anger is a natural part of living with chronic illness, and it is also a part of life. Even the most positive people experience anger from time to time. Anger is an emotion, and it is okay to feel it, provided you deal with it constructively and don’t harm yourself or anyone else in the process. Feel your anger, but once you have felt it, let go and move on!