Anger is a natural emotion that serves as a response to perceived threats, injustices, or frustrations. It is often accompanied by physiological arousal and is intended to motivate us to take action to address the situation that is causing us to feel angry.
In a healthy sense, anger can serve as a signal that something is wrong and needs to be addressed. It can help us to assert ourselves and set boundaries in situations where we feel mistreated or disrespected. It can also motivate us to advocate for ourselves and others and to work towards resolving conflicts and injustices.
However, when anger becomes excessive or is expressed in unhealthy ways, it can cause problems in our relationships, work, and overall well-being. It’s important to learn how to manage and express anger in healthy ways in order to avoid negative consequences.
If you are struggling with anger management, here are six tips to help you better manage your emotions:
Identify the root cause of your anger
Excessive anger always has a root cause and it’s important to understand what’s causing your anger so that you can address the underlying issues. Identifying the root cause of anger can be challenging, as it may be rooted in past experiences or traumas, or it may be triggered by current events or situations.
Take some time to think about what specifically is causing you to feel angry. Are you feeling frustrated, annoyed, or hurt by something that happened or was said? Consider whether your anger is a result of a conflict between your beliefs and the actions or words of others.
If you are having difficulty understanding the root cause of your anger, it might be helpful to talk to a mental health practitioner.
Learn how to set boundaries with others
One common cause of excessive anger is the inability to set boundaries with others. A failure to set boundaries with others can leave them feeling powerless and controlled by everyone around them. Learning to set boundaries can prevent the underlying sense of powerlessness that a person may feel, which may be fueling their anger.
Take some time to reflect on what is important to you and what you are willing to tolerate in your relationships with others. This can include things like physical boundaries, emotional boundaries, and time boundaries. Once you have identified your boundaries, it’s important to clearly communicate them to others. This can be done through verbal communication, or through nonverbal cues like body language or facial expressions.
Practise relaxation techniques
When you’re feeling angry, your body’s fight-or-flight response is activated, which can lead to physical symptoms like increased heart rate and tense muscles. Relaxation techniques can be an effective way to manage anger and reduce its negative impact. Here are a few relaxation techniques that you can try:
Deep breathing: Take a few deep breaths, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. Focus on the breath and try to let go of any other thoughts or distractions.
- Progressive muscle relaxation. This technique involves tensing and relaxing different muscle groups, starting with your feet and working up to your head. As you tense each muscle group, hold for a few seconds before slowly releasing the tension.
- Imagery. Close your eyes and visualise a peaceful scene, such as a beach or a mountain view. Imagine the sights, sounds, and sensations of this place, and try to let go of any negative emotions or thoughts.
- Mindfulness meditation. This involves focusing on the present moment and accepting thoughts and feelings without judgment. Sit in a comfortable position and pay attention to your breath, or focus on a mantra or other word or phrase.
Use ‘I” statements
When communicating with others, try using “I” statements to express your feelings and needs rather than attacking the other person. For example, instead of saying “You’re wrong,” try saying “I feel frustrated when I see things done this way.” This technique is helpful for managing anger because it allows you to express your feelings and needs in a non-accusatory way. This can help to defuse conflicts and prevent them from escalating.
An “I” statement is a sentence that begins with the word “I” and describes how you feel or what you need. For example, instead of saying “You made me angry,” you could say “I feel angry when you do that.” This shifts the focus from blaming the other person to expressing your own feelings and needs.
Find healthy ways to release anger
Sometimes, it can be helpful to release tension through physical activities like exercise. Exercise and other physical activities can be a great way to blow off steam and release tension. Consider going for a run, hitting the gym, or participating in a sport or other physical activity that you enjoy.
Other people might prefer releasing their anger through something creative like writing. Writing about your anger can be a therapeutic way to release and understand it. Keep a journal and write about what’s making you angry, how it makes you feel, and any steps you can take to resolve the issue.
Whatever you choose, just be sure to avoid unhealthy outlets like substance abuse or aggressive behaviour.
Seek professional help
If you’re struggling to manage your anger and it’s causing problems in your life or relationships, seeking professional help can be a valuable step in learning to cope with and express your anger in a healthy way. Professional help might include either group or individual treatment.
Many communities offer anger management classes or group therapy that can teach you skills and techniques for managing your anger. These classes may be offered through community centres, mental health clinics, or other organisations.
If you are interested in getting a deeper understanding of your anger, you may find it more helpful to see an in-person or online therapist. Rather than just teaching skills for managing anger, individual therapy takes a more personal approach. This means that a therapist can help you identify and work through the underlying causes of your anger.
Managing anger is not always easy, but with time and practice, you can learn to control your emotions and live a more peaceful, fulfilling life. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you need it – a therapist can be a valuable resource in your journey towards better anger management.
Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. She is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.