Anger is a perfectly normal human emotion which when dealt appropriately can even be considered as a healthy emotion. Everyone feels angry from time to time but sometimes it can lead us to do or say things that we later may regret. Anger is a very powerful feeling that happens when you are frustrated, hurt, annoyed or desperate.
Anger management is a term used to describe the skills you need to recognise the triggers for anger as early as possible and to express these feelings and frustrations in a cool, calm and collected way.
In this article, we will learn some easy steps to manage our anger. But, a word of caution- one should seek professional help if anger is having a long-term negative impact on your relationships, is making you unhappy or is resulting in any dangerous or violent behaviour, harming yourself or others.
The main basis of anger management is that:
You can’t get rid of or avoid the things or the people that enrage you, nor can you change them, but – you can learn to control your reactions.
Mastering the art of anger management takes work, but the more you practice, the easier it will become.
The Ill-Effects of Out-Of-Control Anger
Here I am going to mention some of the ill-effects of anger which will motivate you to manage your out-of-control anger.
It hurts your physical health
Constantly operating at high level of stress and anger makes you more susceptible to:
- Heart diseases
- A weakened immune system
- High blood pressure
It hurts your mental health
Chronic anger consumes a huge amount of mental energy, leading to:
- Makes it hard to concentrate
It hurts your career
Constructive criticism, creative differences and heated debate can be healthy. But lashing out alienates your colleagues, supervisor or clients and erodes their respect.
It hurts your relationship with others
It causes lasting scares in the people you love most. It may be your partner, children, parents or friends. Explosive anger makes it hard for others to trust you, speak honestly with you or feel comfortable with you.
Steps In Anger Management
Step 1: Explore what’s really behind your anger
- Anger problems often stem from what you’ve learned as a child. If you watched others in your family scream, hit each other or throw things, you might think this is how anger is supposed to be expressed.
- Anger can also be a symptom of underlying health problems, such as depression, trauma or chronic stress.
- If you grew up in a family where anger was out of control, you may remember how the angry person got his or her way by being the loudest and most demanding. Compromising might bring up scary feelings of failure and vulnerability. So it becomes harder for you to understand other people’s point of view and even harder to concede a point leading to anger when other person does not see eye to eye with you.
- If your immediate response in many situations is anger, it’s likely that your temper is covering up your true feelings such as embarrassment, insecurity, hurt, shame or vulnerability.
- If you have a strong need to be in control or a fragile ego, you may interpret other’s point of views as a challenge to your authority, rather than simply a different way of looking at things.
Step 2: Recognise anger warning signs and triggers
There are physical warning signs that your body is preparing to react in anger. Recognising these signs allows you to take steps to manage your anger before it boils over. Think about ways to avoid these triggers or view the situation differently, so it doesn’t provoke anger. Some of these signs may be:
Note the physical symptoms
- Clenched jaw
- Clenched hands
- Tense muscles
- Knotted stomach
- Pounding heart
- Faster breathing
Identify negative thought patterns that trigger anger
- Having a rigid view of the way things should be and getting angry when things don’t match.
- You blame others for bad things that happen to you or around you.
Recognise situations that trigger anger
- Does the traffic on you daily commute drives you crazy. ( try a different route that has less traffic )
- Do you get into a fight every time you go out for drinks with certain friends?(talk this out with your friends, try to go out with a different set of friends or include some cool-headed friends in your existing group of friends,)
Step 3: Learn ways to diffuse anger
Once you recognise the warning signs, you can take steps to manage your anger before it spins out of control.
Deep breathing exercises can help you to relax and slow your heart rate to more normal levels.
When you start to feel tense and angry try to isolate yourself for 15 minutes and concentrate on relaxing and calm steady breathing.
- Inhale and exhale deeply 3 or 4 times in a row.
- Count slowly to 4 as you inhale.
- Count slowly to eight as you exhale.
- Focus on feeling the air in and out of your lungs.
- Concentrate and feel your ribs slowly rise and fall as you repeat the exercise.
Stop and revert to normal breathing if you start to feel dizzy at any time.
Even just a brisk walk around the block can release pent up energy and enable you to approach the situation with a calmer mind.
- Exercise relieves stress, lowers blood pressure and releases powerful endorphins that improve your mood.
- It can also put some welcome time and space between you and the stressful or frustrating situation.
- Rather than focusing on your anger as you exercise, focus instead on how your body feels as you move, such as the sensation of your feet hitting the ground or the rhythm of your breathing.
The more stressed you are, the more likely you are to lose your temper. To help relieve stress following methods can be adopted:
- Adopt a healthy lifestyle: getting enough sleep, reducing your caffeine, alcohol, nicotine and sugar intake and making time for fun in your life can increase your resistance to stress and make it easier to manage anger.
- Connect regularly with family and friends: having meaningful conversations with your family members and friends, especially those who are good listeners can help to reduce stress.
- Practice relaxation techniques: this help to reduce stress and boost feelings of well-being. Some of these techniques are:
- Progressive muscle relaxation: This powerful relaxation technique requires that you lay down somewhere comfortable and firm, like a rug or mat on the floor or a firm bed. Choose a warm – but not hot – dark room if possible. This technique involves progressively contracting and relaxing the main muscle groups around the body that store tension. If at any point during this technique you feel pain or cramp then stop.This technique is widely practised but may take some time to master.Step One:Make yourself comfortable, wear loose clothes and ensure that you will be warm enough. Lie down on a firm surface and relax your muscles. Check that you are really comfortable before moving on, if not use some pillows or cushions and adjust your position.Step Two:Relax and try to let your mind go blank, breathe slowly, deeply and comfortably. Let your arms rest by your side, relax your knees and legs, and allow your feet to fall outwards. Let your shoulders sink into the ground and feel the weight of your body. Unclench your teeth, close your eyes and relax your face and neck.Step Three: Start the exercise. Do not rush, take your time and concentrate on relaxing. Work around the body one main muscle area at a time, whilst doing this breathe deeply, calmly and evenly:
- Clench the muscles tightly and hold for a few seconds
- Relax the muscles completely
- Repeat steps 1 and 2
- Feel a warming and numbing of the area worked.
Follow the steps above for:
- Left Foot – curl your toes and clench your foot
- Left Calf
- Left Thigh
- Right Foot
- Right Calf
- Right Thigh
- Buttocks – clench tightly
- Left Hand – make a tight fist
- Left Arm
- Right Hand
- Right Arm
- Shoulders – hunch up towards the ceiling
- Face – yawn, pout and frown to clench the various muscles in your face
Stay laying down and rest and relax for 10 or 15 minutes after you have finished this exercise – when you do get up, do so slowly gently shaking your legs and arms.
Anger management On The Moment
- Slowly count to 10. Research has shown that the neurological anger response lasts less than 2 seconds. Beyond that, it takes a commitment to stay angry.
- Focus on the physical sensation of anger. It lessens the emotional intensity of anger.
- Take some deep breaths. Deep slow breathing helps counteract rising tension. Breathe deeply from the abdomen getting as much air as possible.
- Stretch or massage areas of tension. Roll your shoulders, if you are tensing them, gently massage your neck and scalp and feel yourself relaxing.
- Take a moment to think about the situation. Ask yourself- How important is it in the grand scheme of things? Is it really worth getting angry about it? Is my response appropriate to the situation?
Know when to seek professional help
If you’ve tried these anger management techniques and your anger is still out-of-control, then you may need the help of a professional therapist. Remember:
ASKING FOR HELP IS NOT A SIGN OF WEAKNESS.