Anger is an intense emotion. It is a natural and healthy response to being upset, offended, irritated, or disappointed. You might become angry because of something someone said or did or because of a memory that triggers you.
Anger is a normal human emotion that everyone experiences.
Failure to manage anger can result in various negative consequences.
Long-term suppressed anger has been connected to many serious health issues.
Anger management involves identifying the cause of your anger and developing appropriate coping techniques.
Failure to control your anger can result in a range of negative consequences, such as saying things you later regret, shouting at your children, threatening colleagues, sending impulsive emails or texts, or even committing acts of violence. Managing anger doesn't mean becoming angry. Instead, it requires learning how to identify and express your anger in a healthy and meaningful way. Anger management is a skill that we can all learn.
What is anger management?
Anger management helps you ensure that you are in control of your anger and not that it controls you. When you are in control of your anger, you can express it in healthy, safe, and beneficial ways. If you allow your anger to take control, you can become verbally or physically abusive. This endangers the people around you.
Keeping your anger bottled up can lead to stress, which is detrimental to your health. To help deal with the anger, you may overindulge in alcohol, drugs, or other medications.
Anger management uses a variety of methods to help a person control their thoughts, feelings, and actions more healthily and helpfully. This is important because uncontrolled anger often leads to aggressive behavior. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), support groups, and, in some cases, medication can help rein in out-of-control anger.
Dangers of suppressing anger
Without proper management, anger may escalate into heightened anxiety and depression. It can destabilize relationships and increase the risk of disease. Researchers discovered correlations between crime, abuse, and other forms of violence and suppressed anger. Occasionally, a history of excessive anger might indicate a mood disorder, a personality disorder, an addiction, or a range of other mental health disorders.
Long-term suppressed anger has been connected to the following health issues:
- Elevated blood pressure
- Coronary problems
- Skin disorders
Where does anger come from?
When we get angry, our "fight or flight" reflex kicks in, releasing a surge of hormones bringing about physical and mental distress. This anger manifests in behaviors such as rage, shouting, agitation, frustration, or derogatory comments.
Anger is an emotion triggered by various factors. Some of these factors can be deep, underlying problems that haven't been addressed. For example, as a child growing up, you may have learned or observed ways to express anger that were harmful or abusive. Perhaps you inherited unhealthy emotional patterns from your parents, caregivers, or other older family members who did not know how to communicate their feelings.
Other reasons for anger include:
- Being humiliated or unfairly treated.
- Feeling intimidated or abused.
- Being physically harmed.
- Feeling depressed.
- Feeling powerless.
- High amounts of anxiety or stress.
Anger management strategies
Cognitive behavioral treatments have repeatedly been shown to be successful in controlling anger. These therapies help modify your thoughts and actions. They are predicated on the idea that your emotions, thoughts, and behavior are interconnected. By becoming aware of your negative thoughts, you can learn to change them into more positive ones, which will lead to mood changes. The following are 10 effective strategies to help manage your anger.
1. Recognize your triggers
If you have a quick temper, keep track of the things that provoke you by writing them down in a journal. Knowing what causes you to get angry allows you to prepare in advance for potentially difficult situations.
2. Don't engage in the blame game
You will not be able to overcome your anger by blaming others, and blaming yourself will only exacerbate and prolong the negative emotions. As hard as it might seem, it is important to accept responsibility for your anger and how you respond to it when things don't go your way.
3. Learn to walk away
Sometimes walking away from a high-pressure environment is all it takes to get your emotions under control. Whenever the temperature of a discussion rises above comfortable levels, it's time to take a break. If you feel like you're about to lose your cool at a meeting, excuse yourself. Taking a break will help restore your mental and physical equilibrium.
4. Compose yourself
When you have a conflict with someone, wait until you're composed before approaching them. Speak to a counselor or jot down your feelings if you don't feel like you can controllably express your emotions.
5. Exercise regularly
Exercise and physical activity are, quite literally, the best practices for managing anger. It will help you relieve stress, whether you work out at the gym or take a brisk walk. Exercise also helps you mentally unwind. You will notice that after a challenging workout or a long run, you have a clearer insight into what was upsetting you.
6. Control your thoughts
Negative, angry thoughts only fuel the fire. Reframe your thoughts when you find yourself thinking about things that anger you. Focusing on the facts without bringing in dire prophecies or extreme exaggerations will help you maintain your cool. You might also create a positive statement or mantra that you can repeat to drown out the negative thoughts that are fueling your anger.
7. Emotional intelligence
It is beneficial to pause and consider what feelings may be underpinning your anger. Anger is often used as a protective mask to keep you from experiencing more unpleasant feelings, such as shame, grief, or disappointment. Ask yourself, “What am I feeling right now?”, “Am I feeling sad?”, or “Am I feeling hurt?” Gaining insight into underlying emotions can assist you in developing healthier coping strategies. This is called emotional intelligence — the more you develop this skill, the healthier you will be.
8. Use “I” statements
Try to get into the habit of using "I" statements to explain the situation. For example, don’t say, "You don't care what I think or how I feel." Instead, say, "I feel upset when my feelings are not acknowledged." Or avoid saying something like, "You constantly leave your mess all over the place." Instead, try, "I feel frustrated when I get home and the house is in disarray."
9. Don't keep grudges
Forgiveness can be very therapeutic. If you can let go and forgive, there are several health benefits. When you harbor grudges, you get trapped in a cycle of obsession, bad feelings, and frustration. Forgiving someone who has hurt you helps you both learn from the experience and can deepen your relationships.
10. Use relaxation techniques
When your anger erupts, use relaxation techniques. For example, perform deep-breathing exercises, visualize a soothing environment, and repeat your mantra. You could also relax by listening to music, writing in a journal, doing a few yoga poses, or try using mental health apps.
Anger is a normal and generally healthy human emotion. However, when it grows harmful and out of control, it can cause issues at work and in personal relationships and affect your overall quality of life. Anger management strategies are a proven way to control your anger and healthily deal with your emotions.
- American Psychological Association. How a psychologist can help you manage anger.
- American Psychological Association. Control anger before it controls you.
- National Library of Medicine. Anger and aggression treatments: a review of meta-analyses.