Anger management is a learned skill, when anger gets out of control, it can lead to problems and make you feel like you’re at the mercy of an unpredictable and powerful emotion. Anger is a basic human emotion, and we’ve all felt it. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with feeling angry – it is a completely normal, usually healthy, emotion, and can actually help you to be honest or to stand up for something you believe in. What matters is how you respond to and express that anger.
Modern science knows that anger raises blood pressure, heart rate and restricts blood vessels, and is associated with an increase in health risks such as coronary heart disease, diabetes, bulimic behaviours, and injury caused by increased road accidents. Anger manifestations also strongly affect interpersonal relationships.
Expressing anger in an abusive or negative way is inappropriate. Rather than trying to suppress the anger, you need to learn how to manage it in a way that acknowledges the feeling while not harming anyone else.
Controlling Your Anger
To control your anger, you first need to be able to recognise the signs that you are getting angry. Some warning signs are:
- Elevated heart rate
- Muscular tightening
- Raising your voice
- Feeling hot and flushed in the face
- Being defensive or snappy
- Feeling argumentative
- Losing your sense of humour
- Being critical of others
- Gritting your teeth.
Once you recognise that you are getting angry, you’ll be in a good place to do something to diffuse the situation before you get really worked up or lash out.
Anger Management Strategies
Managing anger can be difficult, particularly when there are stressors in your life that contribute to the anger you feel. It is important to learn helpful ways of managing your anger to prevent yourself from hurting others and damaging your personal and professional relationships.
Short-Term Anger Management Skills
- Time out Give yourself short breaks during times of the day that tend to be stressful. Stepping away from a situation when you are starting to feel angry gives you space to think clearly and calm down. A few moments of quiet time might help you feel better prepared to handle what’s ahead without getting frustrated or angry.
- Visualise yourself calm Become a witness rather than a participant in an angry situation. Closing your eyes and imagining a relaxing place may help you reduce your anger.
- Controlled breathing Practice deep-breathing exercises. Slowing and deepening your breath can help diffuse the anger. Focus on relaxing your muscles, especially in your face and arms.
- Think before you speak Think carefully before replying. It’s easy to say something you’ll regret later, in the heat of the moment. Take a few moments to collect your thoughts before saying anything. Writing stuff down can also help you work out why you’re feeling angry, and may help you to put things in perspective.
- Stop and listen Make an effort to stop and listen to the other person in the conversation before reacting. This may help your anger drop and allow you to better respond and resolve the situation.
Long-Term Anger Management Skills
Exercise For a quick way to manage anger, go for a walk, run, bike ride, or hit the gym. Regular exercise is very effective at reducing stress. Try to get some exercise every day.
Work out why you’re angry Take a minute to step back from an angry scene, observe it, and gain a new perspective on what is happening. If you’re not sure why you’ve just snapped at someone, consider whether or not you’re under a lot of pressure, you’re hormonal, you’re frustrated with your life, you’re depressed, or you’re just tired. These can all have an impact.
Identify possible solutions Instead of focusing on the cause of your anger, work on resolving the issue. Remember that anger won’t fix anything, and will only make things worse.
Use humour to release tension Use humour to help you face what’s making you angry, and help diffuse tension.
Muscle relaxation Muscle tension is a sign of stress in the body. To help calm down, try the progressive muscle relaxation technique that involves slowly tensing and then relaxing each muscle group in the body, one at a time. Start at the top of your head and move down towards your toes.
Know when to seek help Anger is a strong emotion. It can also cause you to act unreasonably or aggressively. This can result in social isolation, mental and physical health problems, and abuse. Help and support is out there. Research has found that anger management exercises improved well-being and reduced the number of angry outbursts in each of these at-risk groups.
American Psychological Association
If you would like more information about anger Management or would like to make an appointment you can contact Diana by telephone or email.