May is Mental Health Month

Since 1949, May has been observed as Mental Health Month, a time to highlight awareness about mental health. Every year, millions of Americans live with mental illness; however, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the mental health of people throughout the United States and the world. More than ever, it is critical to end the stigma around mental health struggles, because that stigma often prevents individuals from seeking help. Mental Health America, the originator of Mental Health Month, has continued the theme “Tools 2 Thrive” from last year and provided practical tips that everyone can use to improve their mental health and increase their resiliency. The Mercer County Division of Mental Health will share these tips each week. This week, we focus on six tips for coping with anger and frustration.In challenging times, you may ­find that you have little patience with other people or get upset over minor things. Anger and frustration are complicated emotions that often stem from other feelings, like disappointment, fear, and stress. Taking some extra steps to decrease your overall tension can prevent your feelings – and the reactions they cause – from spiraling out of control.lightbulb
Tips for Coping with Anger and FrustrationPause before reacting. When you feel yourself getting angry, take a moment to notice what you are thinking and then take a few deep breaths or count silently to 10. By giving yourself even just a few seconds before reacting, you can put some emotional distance between you and whatever is upsetting you – and you might even realize that you are actually tense because of something else.

Change your surroundings. Anger can make you feel trapped. Whether you are angry at someone in the same room as you or just angry at the world, sometimes physically relocating yourself can help you start to calm down. Go to another room or step outside for a few minutes of fresh air to help disrupt the track that your mind is on.

Get it all out. Keeping your feelings bottled up never works, so allow yourself time to be angry and to vent. As long as you do not focus on it for too long, venting can be a healthy outlet for your anger. You can open up to a trusted friend or write it in a journal. Sometimes it feels better to pretend to talk directly to the person (or situation) who you are angry at – pick an empty chair, pretend they are sitting in it, and say what you need to get off your chest.

Release built-up energy. Anger is a high-energy emotion, and we store that energy and tension physically in our bodies. Exercise is a great way to get rid of extra energy and can improve your mood. Some people fi­nd grounding exercises, like meditation or deep breathing, helpful to calm intense feelings, while others prefer more high-impact activities, like running or weightlifting. Think about what you usually do to decompress, such as taking a hot shower or blasting your favorite music, and use the tools you know work for you.

Manage your expectations. Negative feelings often stem from people or situations not meeting your standards or assumptions. It is frustrating to feel let down, but recognize that you cannot fully predict anyone else’s behavior or how situations will play out. Shift your mental framework so that you are not setting yourself up for disappointment.

Do not be afraid to ask for help. If you are working to cope with your anger but feel like you cannot get it under control, it is time to get some extra support. Anger can fester and become explosive if not resolved. Some mental health conditions can manifest as anger, so this may actually be a sign of depression or anxiety; treating an underlying condition can help heal your anger as well.

For more information on mental health services in Mercer County or the County of Mercer’s Stigma Free Campaign, contact Michele Madiou at mmadiou@mercercounty.org or 609-989-6529. We also invite you to sign our Stigma Free Pledge and read the archive of the Stigma Free Mercer News newsletters.
The Mercer County Department of Human Services fosters a comprehensive human service delivery system that enhances the health, safety, and quality of life for all residents of Mercer County. The department’s goal is to create an environment of public trust by empowering and strengthening individuals and families, advocating for sound policy, mobilizing resources, and acting as champions for those citizens who are most vulnerable and in need of services.Through its offices and divisions, the Department of Human Services provides funding to community-based organizations for those organizations to provide direct services to Mercer County residents. The department does not provide direct services to Mercer County residents, but directs Mercer County residents to where they can access services. With this funding, the Department of Human Services complies with procurement practices in accordance with the New Jersey Public Contracts Law 40:A:11-1 et seq.
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