Eghagha, Ibiyokun Highlight Anger Management Strategies

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Anger, universally acknowledged as a negative emotion can also yield positive results, if managed properly. This was one of the takeaways from a webinar orgnised by Mind and Soul Helpers Initiative (MASHI), an international non-governmental organisation providing mental health education through strategic partnerships with experts in the field of psychology and psychiatry.

Declaring the webinar open on Saturday, 6 July, 2024, Convener and Host, Professor Hope Eghagha, observed that addressing mental health issues is becoming a significant task that should be accorded utmost priority, especially now that the national economy is in a very bad state. He added that most Nigerians are now grappling with anger and stress issues caused by financial pressures.

In order to be able to navigate these trying times without having one’s mental health affected, Eghagha said the ability to manage anger can be pivotal to the achievement of a sound and peaceful mind.

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Speaking on the topic, “Anger management and mental health”, Guest Speaker and Principal Clinical Psychologist, Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital Yaba, Dr Donald Ibiyokun, said anger can be symptomatic of an unresolved mental health issue. He added that anger, if not properly managed, can also lead to alcoholism and other forms of substance abuse. He therefore urged individuals to see anger as a normal emotion that can be managed positively through a series of reactions.
“To be angry is normal. Being angry does not make one a bad person. However, one must learn to manage anger to avoid aggressive behaviour. Not everything about anger is negative. Anger can be positive. It can become motivation for success. This motivation is embedded in man’s primitive instinct to live and protect himself”, he said.

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Ibiyokun enumerated the negative consequences of mismanaged anger thus: disruption of thinking, unnecessary self-defense, aggression and social tagging as an angry person. He also highlighted the potential causes of anger as stress, frustration, annoyance, disappointment, resentment and cognitive appraisal of oneself i.e. how one perceives anger or things that provoke him or her.

In order to properly manage anger, he said it is good for individuals to express the negative emotion rather than bottle it up for long. “When anger is bottled up for long, it can explode or express itself in other negative ways such as headache, depression or tension. Anger should be expressed carefully and not in an aggressive manner”, he advised.

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Concluding his presentation, Ibiyokun said individuals can manage anger properly if they develop the following coping mechanisms: repeating a calm word like “Relax” or “Take it easy”, using positive imagery by visualizing a relaxing experience and engaging in non-strenuous yoga-like exercise.

Others are taking a deep breath, breaking down usual patterns and forgiving those who annoy us.

Reacting to questions on whether alcohol can be useful in the management of anger, Eghagha and Ibiyokun agreed that alcohol consumption or any other form of substance abuse is a very poor anger management strategy. “Alcohol can only offer temporary relief whereas the problem(s) it tries to solve remains. Developing dependence on alcohol is in itself a problem to one’s health. So, it is not advisable to resort to alcohol when one is angry,” they said.

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