Anger Awareness for Veterans

Anger Awareness for Veterans

Why am I always angry?

Are you a Veteran struggling to control your anger? Does it affect your relationships, day to day life and wellbeing? Or are you affected by a loved one’s anger issues?

Help for Heroes Psychological Wellbeing Advisor Kathryn Spence has some advice.

Experiencing anger is a natural human reaction to threat and can be a good way of protecting ourselves. However, if anger is used in a destructive way, it can leave you feeling guilty and full of regret for the consequences of your behaviour. Anger can be harmful to anyone who is exposed to it. Learning to manage and express feelings better can improve your life and the lives of the people around you.

If anger regularly controls you, rather than you being able to control your anger, then support is available.

Hidden Wounds is a free and confidential service run by Help for Heroes that offers treatment and support for people wishing to learn how to manage their anger better. You can reach them by calling 0808 2020 144 (free from UK landlines) or by requesting more information from them here.

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If it is left unresolved, anger has been found to affect us both physically and mentally. Out of control anger has been linked to high blood pressure, depression, poor sleep, anxiety and heart attacks. Keeping in anger can be just as damaging to your health as expressing it in an aggressive way.

In addition, chronic anger can cause problems between friendships and lead to breakdowns in relationships. Often people can feel uncomfortable and may be wary of how you might react to them. This can potentially damage trust in relationships. People who express explosive anger can be perceived by others to be showing bullying behaviours. Anger can be very emotionally damaging for children to witness.

Being able to handle other people’s opinions and control your emotions will mean people are more likely to listen to and communicate with you more meaningfully. Having a better awareness of how anger affects you can help you to take the first steps in calming yourself down.

“But I can’t stop myself getting angry…”

Learning how to express your opinions and needs without resorting to either a verbal or physical anger reactions is within your control. You may find that the situation you find yourself in may not be in your control, but how you respond is a matter of choice. You can learn new techniques to help you express your feelings constructively.

Invest in your own recovery

  • It might be worth asking yourself what the underlying reasons are behind your anger, in case it is masking other issues, for instance hurt, guilt, worry, insecurity, embarrassment or vulnerability. Addressing these issues could mean that you don’t experience anger as often, when your underlying needs are being met.   
  • Exercise can be a really good tool to release anger and irritation in a healthy way.
  • Take a moment to ask yourself the following things:
    • Is the situation worth ruining your mood for the rest of the day?
    • In the grand scheme of things how important it?
    • Is your response appropriate to the situation?
    • Is ‘winning’ the argument more important than maintaining the relationship?
  • Choose your battles! Any conflict can be physically and mentally draining for everyone involved.
  • Seeking revenge and wishing to punish others will not resolve the problems that were caused in the first place and will only reduce your energy further. Remember, anger can be destructive not only to others, but also to you.
  • Learn to be assertive, not aggressive, when you need to express your feelings. Make time to plan what you want to say. Be specific. Listen to the other person’s view. Explain what you need from them. Breathe steadily to remain calm. Return to the conversation later on if you feel that your emotions are being affected.
  • Get support. Talk through the situation with others and ask for help, either from people you trust or via helplines. You may then see improvements in your life and the lives of those affected by your anger.

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As well as Help for Heroes Hidden Wounds, support can also be accessed via your GP. They can link you in with courses or counselling services in your area that are right for you.

You can also get help from Men's Advice Line on 0808 801 0327 or Mankind on 01823 334 244 with issues of domestic abuse or violence. If you are worried that your own behaviour has become abusive, you can contact Respect on 0808 802 4040.

Support can also be sought from Refuge, Women's Aid or the Alternatives to Violence Project, if you feel that you are affected by someone else’s anger and it is leading to violence or threatening behaviour within the home. You can also access support from Hidden Wounds if you are affected by someone else’s mental health, including if they have issues with anger. 

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