Teaching Body Cues for Anger Management

Marcelina Hardy, MSEd, BCC
An example of anger body cue.

Teaching body cues for anger management will help individuals understand when their anxiety rises so they can use anger management tools to control their hostility.

The Angry Body: Why People Should Know Body Cues

Your body is first to respond to stressful stimuli. When people encounter something that makes them upset, physiological processes such as blood pressure and heart rate increases. These bodily changes usually cause people to behave or act differently. The problem is that people don't always notice the changes until they become so enraged and out of control.

The key to noticing changes in behavior and actions, when presented with an anger-provoking situation, is learning about body cues for anger. Identified body cues can help people notice them at the first signs of anger, making it easier to control.

Tips for Teaching Body Cues for Anger Management

If you lead anger management groups, counselor individuals with anger issues or want to help a loved one, use some of these methods of teaching body cues for anger management.

  • Presentation of stimulus

Find out what makes the person get angry and then present them with whatever it is. It might be useful to do role-playing or to discuss a recent situation that angers the person. As you go through the role-playing or discussion, have the person stop often to reflect on how he/she feels. Have the person consciously think about how he/she is breathing, moving hands, body stance, and other body movements.

  • Using a workbook

You can use anger management worksheets to teach body cues. Have the person fill out some information about what makes him/her angry or have the person take the worksheet with him/her to fill out the next time he/she encounters an anxiety-producing situation. The person should write down how he/she feels during the situation, not afterwards.

  • Observing others

If you lead a group, have people observe each other and identify body cues. This will help people start to understand how anger affects them. People should write down the body cues that others see as well as the ones they notice in themselves.

  • Videotaping

If you have access to a video recorder, you can videotape the person while angry and have him/her watch it afterwards. You and the person can then write down the body cues noticed during different stages of the episode. It's important that you look for body cues because people often have difficulties finding body cues in themselves.

Using Body Cues in Anger Management

If people ignore body cues, they become more frustrated and revert to releasing their anger in nonconstructive ways such as through yelling, making irrational decision and for some, violence. Once people learn body cues for anger, they can use them to manage their anger. Once they notice themselves reacting to an anxiety-provoking situation, they can take a step back and do what is most effective for them to lower stress. This can include imagery, breathing, meditation, or journaling. It's important people have access to something that relieves stress when body cues are noticed.

Teaching Body Cues for Anger Management