Anger is a normal healthy emotion which ranges from mild irritation to rage but when out of control it can be destructive and have consequences on relationships and physical and mental health.
The feeling of anger in itself is not a problem, but how we react when we feel angry IS, particularly if it harms ourselves or others.
Anger problems are as common as Depression and Anxiety but if you don’t see it as a problem or feel you are at the mercy of an unpredictable, powerful and unmanageable force, the consequences can be very serious.
However, if you acknowledge that anger is a problem then you can discuss this with your GP who will carry out an assessment and may then refer you for a talking therapy or an anger management programme.
This support service will afford you the opportunity to identify the causes of your anger, work through your feelings and improve your responses to situations that make you angry. In the meantime below are some tips to manage your anger more effectively.
The first step in being able to manage your anger is to recognise the situations,events or people that make you angry and identify your body’s warning sign of anger.
Identify the things that can trigger your anger
eg. Traffic congestion,certain people,being wrongly accused,crowded spaces, being treated unfairly etc. If you know what these are, then you can avoid them or do something different next time it happens.
Identify how your body reacts when you are angry
eg. feeling clammy or flushed, racing heart, pacing or needing to walk around breathing faster etc. The earlier you recognise the warning signs of anger the more successful you will be at calming yourself down before your anger gets out of control. (Use deep diaphragmatic breathing to help – see below)
Time out walk away from the situation, person or event
If you feel anger is getting out of control then walk away from the situation, event or person and don’t walk back into it until you and everyone else has calmed down. You can use deep breathing during this time.
Distract yourself from the situation
by counting to 10, talking to a friend, listening to music etc
Use deep diaphragmatic breathing to alleviate stress or tension in the body. eg Deep slow breathing demonstrates that you are relaxed and calm. Fast shallow breathing indicates that you might be stressed. Practicing deep breathing can help slow your breathing pattern down, calm the mind and relax the body. (Lewis 2007)
Look at the way you think
Try to let go of any unhelpful ways of thinking.
“Thoughts such as ‘It’s not fair,’ or ‘People like that shouldn’t be on the roads,’ can make anger worse.”
Thinking like this will keep you focused on whatever it is that’s making you angry. Let these thoughts go and it will be easier to calm down.
Don’t use phrases that include:
- Always (for example, “You always do that.”)
- Never (“You never listen to me.”)
- Should or Shouldn’t (“You should do what I want,” or “You shouldn’t be on the roads.”)
- Must or Mustn’t (“I must be on time,” or “I mustn’t be late.”)
- Ought or Oughtn’t (“People ought to get out of my way.”)
Talk about it
Discussing your feelings with a friend can be useful, and can help you get a different perspective on the situation.
If uncontrolled anger leads to domestic violence (violence or threatening behaviour within the home), there are places that offer help and support. You can talk to your GP or contact domestic violence organisations such as Refuge or Women’s Aid.