Anger is one of the most pronounced stages of grief, and many people with spinal cord injuries struggle with it for years after their injury. It doesn't come as a surprise that anger happens after becoming paralyzed, but it does no good for anyone to let your anger last for years after your injury. Especially yourself.
Anger usually occurs during the early stages of an injury when doctors tell you you will likely never recover. No one wants to hear such a finite statement, and this is when anger usually begins. Many people are also shocked that such an injury can happen to them. "It usually only happens to others," many people think. That is the reality of trauma - it can happen to anyone.
It is important to reign in your anger so you do not let it develop into a rage that can take over your life. It may feel like anger gives you something to hold onto, but it is important to remember that this feeling is just a facade. While anger in some instances can push people to work hard in therapy, it usually causes too much negativity in your life and in the lives of those around you.
To prevent anger from taking over your life, we created a list to help you lessen your anger.
One of the most popular classes for people with spinal cord injuries right now is adaptive yoga and it is available at many rehab hospitals across the country. Chances are if you live near a major city, it is available. Adaptive yoga, just like regular yoga, incorporates concepts like deep breathing and stretching which can help relax the mind and body and lessen anger. And if no adaptive yoga classes are available near you, there are many online videos showing how to do it.
Humor is one of the best ways to work through anger, and for some, tapping into what is called gallows humor is a great tonic. When you are in a difficult situation that you simply can’t change, like a spinal cord injury, gallows humor is perfect as it helps you laugh at what is an impossible situation and release tension. Famous comedians that are known for gallows humor are Lewis Black and Jim Jeffries.
Meditation is a great way you can stop being angry in a peaceful way. Deep breathing is also an essential part of meditation, as well as imagining something like a relaxing scene such as being on a beach or in the forest. Meditation incorporates relaxation techniques such as repeating a calming word, such as "I am still a strong and beautiful person."
It's important to remember that anger brings on bitterness, which is a negative thought process that hurts your healing. It can eat you up and cause unneeded negative energy in your life.
A good strategy to focus your thoughts and lessen your anger is to create new goals you can meet. These goals can be anything from fundraising, going back to school, driving again to trying to get approved for an exoskeleton, or standing wheelchair.
Exercising is a tried and true method for lessening anger. After a spinal cord injury, it’s important to get any kind of cardio 3x/week in 20-minute increments. If you don’t have access to accessible equipment or a trainer, HIIT workouts, wheelchair aerobics, and adaptive CrossFit are all exercise techniques you can do at home.
For many people, sometimes something as easy as taking a moment is all you need to relieve anger that’s bothering you. It’s not a permanent solution by any means, but closing your eyes and imagining you’re somewhere else, or just going outside to take in some fresh air, can help in a big way
If you feel your anger is too much to control, consider seeing a counselor or seeking professional help. Many people with paralysis see therapists with success. And ultimately, remember to take things on a day by day basis if you feel like you are too overwhelmed.