For many, college life is an interesting mix of unbridled fun and high-pressure stress. One day you’re throwing back pizzas and going out with friends; the next, you’re putting in 10-hour days at the library preparing for exams that will determine your career.
At times, balancing the two extremes leaves students battling a range of emotions – including anger.
The Cost Of Unchecked Anger
Anger management has been lightly referenced in movies and TV, but it’s no joking matter. Sometimes the outcome of anger-infused actions lead to legal matters that can only be unraveled by a top criminal defense lawyer. It’s not a road you want to walk. College-age students are at particular risk for voicing anger inappropriately due to their high stress levels, lack of proper nutrition and sleep, and, as the stats show, their age.
While it’s OK to experience anger, uncontrolled outrage is dangerous. Road rage is one prime example – studies from more than 10 years ago found that the media reported on 4,000+ stories each year related to road rage, a number that has been growing annually. Assault and battery charges are another common result of poor anger management. When you take your frustrations out on those around you, you may have to get a criminal attorney involved.
In college, unchecked anger may lead to actions that cause bodily harm, expulsion from school, and mental issues such as severe depression.
Ask Yourself “Do I have Anger Issues?”
Just because you’ve never physically hurt someone doesn’t mean you don’t have anger issues. Frustration can appear in a number of ways. Threatening words may harm others. Bottled-up anger can also hurt you by creating anxiety, confusion, and lack of focus.
You may find relationships are difficult. After all, our actions shape the way people see us. Deborah Wadsworth, President of the Public Agenda Research Group, said in 2002 that anger is “about the daily assault of selfish, inconsiderate behavior that gets under people’s skin on the highways, in the office, on TV, in stores and the myriad other settings where they encounter fellow Americans.”
Anger can have physical symptoms. On its website, Iona College released the following early warning signs of anger:
1. Muscle tension, sweating, nervousness, racing heartbeat, physical pain or other physical symptoms.
2. Restlessness, anxiety, irritability, poor memory, excessive preoccupation with the angering situation, confusion, racing thoughts.
3. Outbursts of emotions, feeling on edge or hyper-vigilant, feeling guilty or fearful.
Make note of your circumstances when you feel these types of symptoms. Are you preparing for a major exam? Have you been struggling with a new roommate? Has a professor been difficult? These factors can contribute to angry episodes.
Find Ways To De-stress
School adds on a lot of pressure to many new students and usually they don’t know how to cope. The best advice you can get sometimes are from people who’ve been there for awhile and now how to deal with that stress. We asked the people at TheCollegeHelper.com for some advice in this area and Kali White, a junior at UC Davis, replied with a few key tips:
1) The best piece of advice I can give for easily frustrated college students is to find a healthy peace of mind. This could be anything from a hobby that you really enjoy to just sitting and listening to music. I don’t think violence solves anything, so finding a way to de-stress yourself and the situation is the best way to alleviate your frustration.
If you find yourself getting frustrated to the point of being harmful or hurtful to others or even yourself, instead try to think of a happier time in your life.. It can be easy to get frustrated at times, but take a couple deep breaths and wait till it passes or you may regret your actions.
2) My recommendations for students to have a less stressful approach to college life would be to not put so much pressure on themselves. I know this is easier said than done considering the amount of pressure you’re under to do your best, but getting worked up won’t solve anything. College can be a demanding time in your life, but it’s not the end of the world if you get a less than satisfactory grade here and there. I promise things have a way of working out in the end, so if you believe this it will you to get over the small speed bumps.
Try to get out in the open air and do something that will relieve stress. Even going for a walk helps me clear my head and get a better prospective on my schoolwork and life in general. Remember that by going to college is already a step in the right direction to ensue success in your future, so give yourself credit for making that decision and pushing forward to meet this goal.
Getting To The Heart Of The Matter
The next step in dealing with your anger is to manage it.
For some students, the anger comes from a place of difficult history and may require counselor intervention. If you’re concerned that your frequent outbursts are signaling a deeper issue, seek the help you need (many campuses have counselors who can help).
For those dealing with short-term anger issues related to stress and life choices, you have several options.
“My advice to manage reactions to frustration is to take a deep breath and remember that it’s not what happens to us that matters as much as how we react to such events,” said Darren Poke of Better Life Coaching. “When we are under pressure we have an opportunity to show that we can deal with stressful situations effectively, enhancing our reputation, or we can lash out and react poorly, diminishing our reputation.
Poke suggests these tips for de-escalating a situation:
1. Have hobbies or activities that aren’t related to your studies, giving balance to your life.
2. Look after yourself physically. We seem invincible when we are young but eating well, exercising regularly, not drinking too much and sleeping well make a massive difference in how you respond to stressful situations.
3. Surround yourself with positive and resourceful peers.
4. Have someone independent of the situation to talk to and put things into context.
Poke also reminds us that we have choices. “John Maxwell teaches that when you have a problem, imagine that it’s a small fire. You have two buckets, one full of water and one full of kerosene. Which one are you going to use?”
You can also change the way you think about a situation. After all, a professor didn’t downgrade you because he dislikes you. Your roommate may not be aware his hygiene habits are offensive. Don’t jump to conclusions that lead to frustration. Try, for example, to find the humor in a situation. At Anger Management Tips.com, the writer suggests that when you are cut off in traffic to “picture how silly you must look to other drivers, tooling down the road in your ‘cut-off’ vehicle. Parallel parking will sure be a breeze now, won’t it?”
The more we see through a positive lens, the better the view!
How have you diffused frustration in your own life? What warning signs do you have that anger is about to take over?