Do you have a bad temper? When something makes you upset, how do you respond? You may scream or yell at someone or break things. You might not realize that your inability to handle the situations calmly is hurting others badly. Anger issues can be problematic if they lead to frequent outbursts, aggression, or physical wrangle. If you have these issues, you should learn how to control anger. Here you will learn easy tips for anger management.
What is Anger
Before we tell you how to control anger, you need to understand what is anger.
Anger is one of the primary human emotions intensity of which may vary from mild irritation to fury or rage. Like other emotions, some physiologic changes also occur when you are angry. Your blood pressure and heart rate go up. You may get mad because of a particular situation, for example, a traffic jam or on a specific person such as a supervisor or colleague.
Anger is completely normal, and when expressed appropriately, can be healthy human emotion. Like any emotion, it conveys a message about the situation, which may be upsetting you or threatening.
It is ok to feel angry when you have been mistreated or wronged, but anger becomes an issue when you express it in the wrong way, hurting others, and in the end, you might end up regretting your behavior too.
Some people might think that anger should be vented out all then and there or you need to show anger to earn respect. But the reality is if anger gets out of control, it leads to a lot of problems in your personal life. It affects your relationships, health, and overall quality of life.
Suppressed or unexpressed anger can lead to many physical health problems including:
- High blood pressure
- Heart diseases
- Skin problems
- Digestive problems
It also affects your psychological health and interpersonal relationships. It may indulge you in substance abuse, alcoholism, crimes, emotional or physical abuse, and violence. So, it is vital to find out what are your triggers of anger and plan some strategies to cope with it.
The social norms and manners put a limit on how can we express anger. There are three ways to deal with anger.
- Expressing: Expressing your anger in non-aggressive and well-behaved manners is the healthiest way. It allows expressing your feelings and needs without hurting others.
- Suppressing: You can hold on to your anger and crush it at that time and try to convert it into positive, constructive behavior. But there is a negative aspect of suppressing anger. If it is not allowed to express other ways, the unexpressed anger can become passive-aggressive behavior. The person may look hostile or cynical all the time, putting everyone down. Also, there is a risk of health issues.
- Calming down inside: You can practice controlling your inward feelings and behaviors by calming you down. You can take steps physically to monitor your heart rate, understanding your emotions, and think rationally. You will learn some tips below about this.
So, why are some people angrier than others? Because they have a low tolerance for frustration.
Phycologists believe that some genetic and physiological factors are responsible for it. Some children are irritable and get angry and offended easily. Sociocultural factors are also important. Expressing anger is considered a bad thing, but like other emotions, we are never taught how to express anger in an appropriate way.
People commonly say anger should be voided out fully at that time in order not to keep a grudge. It is a dangerous myth as people may misuse this idea to hurt others. Expressing anger is a controlled, and well-behaved manner is the key.
Tips for Anger Management
Anger management describes some strategies and skills to help you recognize your situations and triggers and how to express them appropriately.
1. Calm down your mind
Keeping your calmness is the first step on how to control anger. There are some simple relaxation techniques that you can use to calm down. These may include:
- Breathe deeply as you feel from your abdomen. Slow and deep breathing for 4-5 minutes will help you decrease tension and worries.
- Repeat some calming words like “it’s ok” “take it easy” while you are breathing deeply.
- If you are standing, sit down or lie straight for a while. You can take a sip of water.
- Remember a calming environment you have been or just imagine one. It maybe alongside a lake or in a garden whatever makes you feel lighter.
- Yoga is the right way as a relaxation exercise.
2. Go around for a walk
Simple non-strenuous activities like a walk around a peaceful environment can help you relax your body and divert your mind from anger and frustration.
In research, those people who engage themselves in regular exercise have low anger issues and are better able to self-control their rage (1).
If you are angry at one time, it is a great idea you go out for a light walk. As a bonus, walking has many health benefits too.
3. Relax your muscles
Progressive muscle relaxation (Jacobson’s Relaxation) is a proven useful method of relaxing your body to get rid of anxiety, depression, and anger issues. It focuses on voluntarily contracting your body muscles group-wise and then relaxing in a sequence (2). Do this exercise for 10 minutes, and you will feel a lot better after it (3, 4, 5).
4. Take a timeout and play some calming music
Give yourself a break and sit somewhere alone. Play your favorite music, which can carry away the storm of anger for a while so that you can turn your emotions to neutral.
You can process your events later on. Taking timeout every day for a while in your routine is also a healthy habit.
5. Explore what the reason behind your anger is?
You may find yourself getting into arguments and fights over small things. The real reason for your frustration might be another thing. Try to identify the other big reason behind your anger and frustration. It will help you communicate your anger better in a constructive way and work on their solutions.
Ask yourself a question of whether your anger is masking some other feelings of embarrassment, insecurities, hurt, vulnerability, or shame? It is possible if you grew up in an environment where expressing emotions was not allowed.
Repeated anger outbursts can be a sign of underlying anxiety. You need to work on finding the reason what is making you feel terrible. These issues can also emerge from your childhood experiences, such as abusive parents and couple disputes.
Lastly, some health problems, such as chronic stress, depression, and trauma, can lead to uncontrolled anger. When you go deeper in understanding, you will control and express your anger in better ways.
6. Identify your warning signs
People often say they want to manage their anger, but they don’t know when and how they got out of control. Your body shows some physical signs before you explode out in anger. These warning signs include:
- Heartbeat becoming fast
- Tightness in chest
- Breathing fast
- Clenching fist
- Feeling hot
- Tense muscles
- Knots in stomach
Mentally you may feel tense or nervous and unable to relax. You may want to shout, break things, or hurt yourself. Recognizing these signs is not easy. But knowing these physical signs will help you take steps before the situation gets out of your hand.
7. The approach towards a problem-solving attitude
Sometimes the problems in our lives are real and unavoidable. There is not always a one-step solution to everything. Unfortunately, there is some cultural belief that every issue has a solution. It only adds up to frustration and does not help to better the situation.
So, you should get yourself tired to find a solution, always instead focus on how to deal with the situation and face the problem for now.
The best problem-solving attitude would be to make a plan and check on its progress, but do not punish yourself if everything doesn’t go according to your choice. Do not lose patience, and keep working with your best intentions and effort. You will not get frustrated with this mindset and better able to manage your anger issues.
8. Work on your negative thought patterns
You might think that it is always other people and situations that make you angry. Why not your thoughts and attitude towards social interactions can be a cause of your sufferings. Some common negative thought patterns usually flare up anger. Work on them positively if you have any of these. These include:
- Overanalyzing: Some people have a habit of using words “always” “never” “everyone” in their arguments. This will only flare up the conflict. Try not to overanalyze the situation and think rationally before you speak.
- Obsessions: Having rigid reviews and obsessive desires about a thing or condition like “this must be…” or “this should not be….” ruin your arguments and leads to conflicts. Logic defeats obsessions and compulsions.
- Assuming and jumping to conclusions: Thinking that someone intentionally hurt you or ignored or disrespected you. You cannot read someone’s mind!
- Blaming: Whenever something goes wrong or does not work out, you start thinking it must be something else’s fault, and life is not fair to you. Maybe you want to escape from your responsibilities and keep on blaming others for your failures.
9. Learn healthy communication to resolve conflicts
In the heat of arguing, an angry person is more likely to jump on conclusions irrationally and ruin their relationships. If you are in a heated discussion, the very first thing to do is to slow down and think about your responses. Listen to what another person is trying to say and take some moments of patience on your part.
It is ok and natural to get into a defensive argument if you are being criticized but do not hit back. Try to understand the behind meaning of the words the other person is complaining about. Fighting fair and expressing your point while keeping the respect and dignity of others is the main thing.
While arguing, try to focus on the present situation under discussion. Do not bring in past disputes into it. Maintaining and bonding your relationship is always better than winning an argument. Sometimes it is tough to resolve a conflict, primarily when resolution lies in a strong urge to punish others.
Show your big heart and forgive. Lastly, it is not always necessary to resolve all conflicts. Learn to accept differences of opinion and respecting other’s points of view.
10. Use humor to relieve tensions
Anger is a severe emotion but is often accompanied by ideas if you can construct them into silly humor; it can make you laugh. If you get angry at someone, before calling their name, use an imaginative phrase and think about how they would look like.
For example, if you think of a coworker at your office as a “dirtbag,” think of an “amoeba” sitting at your colleague’s desk. This activity will lessen your fury, and humor can help unknot a tense and rageful situation.
11. Change your environment, timing, and schedule
Sometimes your surroundings and environment weigh on you in the form of problems and responsibilities. You may feel trapped and frustrated. Take out your time in which you can relax and feel leisure. Modify your time table for things.
If you think discussing issues with your spouse at night leads to more conflicts because everyone is tired at that time, choose another time accordingly.
12. Avoid circumstances which flare you up
If you find out a specific situation always flare you up, and you have no control over it, simply try to avoid this and stay calm. For example, your kid’s messy room annoys you every time you enter; you simply don’t look at it every time you pass by. You can control things up to a certain level.
Try to practice self-control. Similarly, overcrowded traffic road annoys you, choose another route or public transport to avoid this situation.
13. Talk to a friend about your situation
Talking to a trusted and supportive friend about the situation might help you explore new aspects of your stressful situation. Do not keep stewing in events that made you angry. Sharing and analyzing a different perspective is always healthy in problem-solving.
14. Practice empathy
Place yourself in the other person’s situation and try to feel what you would have reacted in that situation. Practicing empathy will sharpen your emotional intelligence and handling your anger.
15. Find a creative channel
Find some creative ways of expression. Spend time in your favorite hobbies. You can try painting, gardening, or writing poetry when you’re upset.
When do you need professional help?
If anger has a chronic and long term negative impact on your life and relationships and you are always unhappy or involved in violent or criminal activities because of your temper, you should consult for the professional help from psychiatrists or doctors.
Anger is a natural and reasonable human emotion that everyone experiences in certain situations. Ignoring or suppressing your anger is not healthy. However, if you find your anger is out of control, and it often turns into aggression or outbursts, you can practice healthy ways to express and deal with it.
If the tips mentioned above are not useful, consider consulting with your doctor. A psychiatrist or mental health specialist can help you work through underlying factors that may contribute to anger and other emotional issues.