How Does Anger Management Impact First Responders?


First responders work under intense circumstances that produce stress beyond what most people can handle. Over time, their immune systems learn to handle it but only because they have to. Public servants often deal with dramatic conditions where injury, death, accidents, and other things occur on an almost daily basis. Dealing with emotions like frustration and anger can boil to the surface and take over a person’s life. Anger management is important as a skill to keep people from developing poor coping mechanisms that interfere with their daily work.

Making the Connection

It is hard to make the connection between anger at others and anger within themselves that is coming from another place. Rarely is anger coming from being angry, it comes from a place of grief, pain, loss, sadness, fear, anxiety, worry, and many other emotions. People may not see their ability to control their behavior and conditions. It may lead to frustration and angry outbursts if they are dealing with emotional and physical stress nobody else understands. Making this connection helps first responders see how they are coping with stress and start to make the proper adjustments to find healing.

PTSD and Anger

First responders have developed PTSD as a result of trauma and loss on the job. One symptom is hypervigilance or being worried about what is happening around them. They overreact to stimuli and frequently experience angry outbursts. This sign of PTSD can be difficult for others to experience who are not the source of the anger. They are not the ones typically involved in the situation but are the ones that people direct anger towards. Symptoms of PTSD and noticing the right treatment can help improve symptoms. Training in how to recognize anger and properly manage it can also reduce stress and anxiety in their daily lives.

Learning to Manage Anger

It may be hard to deal with anger management but it is best to confront it head-on. No matter whether it is from PTSD symptoms or something else, it is important to find a healing way to deal with it. Constructive ways to manage anger mean learning to deal with the feelings properly. This can include many things. Try some of the following to get started.

Mindfulness and Meditation

A mind is a powerful tool. It is often challenging to move thought patterns around and change how they operate. Getting the mind to relax is important, especially for times when stress may occur on the job. Relaxation, taking a bath or shower, being in nature, or just practicing mindfulness and meditation is important to learn how to rest the mind for the journey ahead.

Change Thoughts

The thought loop happens when certain thoughts continue to move through the mind and brain and are habitually focused on the negative. Changing the way a person sees a situation can diffuse anger and grief. Learning the right tools means understanding how the brain works, why it responds the way it does, and what it will take to change the thought loop. Anger management classes often teach how to navigate this for individual circumstances and stay healthy. Changing thought patterns will take time because it took time to create the loop in the first place. Don’t worry about how long it takes. Simply focus on doing what feels right now and begin changing your mind if you want to release the anger.

Problem Solving

Learning to approach a problem with a solution-focused mindset is key. This means understanding, not all problems can be solved. Improved communication skills can help but so can learning to look at a situation as less problematic and more possible to navigate peacefully. Problem-solving means things like looking at the situation overall, understanding dynamics, being able to make quick decisions, and solving the issue without resorting to anger first. With the right tools, people can respond in a healthy way and move forward without being angry first.

Environmental Shift

If being at work is a huge trigger right now, it might mean taking a break. It might mean learning to recognize when a situation or person is causing anger to rise more often. Situations can be huge triggers for anger. If it is too triggering, writes down what is causing it and how it is happening. These actions may leave a person feeling tense and unable to cope if they cannot find a way to deal without being angry. Modify the environment by walking away, taking deep breaths, or not getting too into the situation. It might simply mean a shift away from this particular environment into a situation that is less stress-inducing, even for the moment. Learning to diffuse a situation is key to diffusing anger.

Work-related stress is common for first responders. There are helpful ways to deal with anger and not let it take over your job or life. Seek help from those who understand the situation and can offer support for a better outcome in the future. It is helpful to look at it from all angles and begin to look for help if it feels too overwhelming to deal with right now. There is mental health help available if things continue to be too overwhelming to deal with.

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