We all experience anger, whether as a short-lived aggravation or as full-fledged rage. While anger is a normal (often healthy) human emotion, it can be uncontrollable and in many cases, significantly problematic. Uncontrolled anger can affect various aspects of your life, including your work and personal relationships. People with anger issues often feel as if they are at the mercy of erratic and intense emotions.
Internal and external factors, such as a specific person (it could be your coworker or supervisor) or an event (a cancelled trip or being stuck in a traffic jam) can trigger anger. Other factors include worrying or brooding about your personal problems or traumatic memories.
Uncontrolled anger can lead to various issues, such as saying hurtful words, sending impulsive messages, threatening your partner, friend, or co-worker, engaging in physical violence, and even developing health problems. Anger can turn into a significant problem when it becomes frequent or too intense or when you cannot express it properly. It can take a toll on you physically, mentally, and socially. This is when anger management becomes crucial. It allows you to develop the necessary skills to deal with anger while expressing your emotions in a healthy way.
Why Is Anger Management Important
When chronic anger flares frequently or spirals out of control, it can have a serious impact on your overall well-being:
Physical Health - High levels of stress and uncontrolled feelings of anger can put you at risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, insomnia, and a weakened immune system.
Mental Health - Chronic anger can be mentally draining. It can also destabilize your thinking, leading to concentration problems or preventing you from enjoying your life. Also, it can also contribute to other mental health problems, such as stress, anxiety, and depression.
Career - Most of the time, creative differences, constructive criticism, and even heated debates can be healthy. However, lashing out at your colleagues will only alienate them and lead to them losing their respect for you.
Relationships - Anger can cause you to say hurtful words, which can cause lasting scars on your loved ones and hinder you from creating healthy friendships and work relationships.
One of the most common misconceptions about anger management is that people think it is all about suppressing anger. However, anger suppression is as detrimental as extreme or violent expressions of anger. If bottled up for too long, anger can soon break away and may result in an explosion rather than an expression. Anger will eventually find its way out no matter how hard you try to repress it.
The true purpose of anger management is not to force you to hide your feelings of anger but to help you understand and work with the reasons behind this emotion and express it in a healthy manner. Anger management helps you detect anger and address and resolve it in a way that may generate more favourable outcomes for you and those around you. Developing anger management skills does not only make you feel better but is also more likely to help you meet your needs and be better at managing conflicts and strengthening relationships.
Techniques of Anger Management
If you want to get your anger under control, here are several tips that will help you manage your strong emotions in a healthy way:
1. Count Down
Before your anger starts to escalate, counting down (or up) to 10 can help you calm down. If your anger is too overwhelming, start at 100. This simple technique to control anger helps slow down your heart rate and ease your anger. Counting down is a useful intermediary step to halt an impulsive explosive reaction and thus place you in a better position for dealing with the situation.
2. Focus on the Long-Term Picture
Intense anger can lead you to say something you will regret later on. Before you speak, take a few moments to think about the best ways to deal with the situation. Also, let others involved do the same. Think about what you can do now in this moment that you will still feel good about tomorrow, once anger has subsided.
3. Take a Breather
Anger can make your breathing shallower and faster at the same time. To let this feeling subside, use anger breathing exercises. Take a couple of slow, deep breaths from your nose and exhale out of your mouth.
4. Practice Relaxation Skills
Practicing relaxation techniques for anger, such as deep-breathing, imagining being in a calm place, or repeating a calming statement, like “take it easy.” Also, listening to relaxing music, doing some yoga poses or stretches, and writing in a journal can help promote relaxation and reduce general levels of stress and tension. Yes, it’s cliché… but for a reason – it helps!
5. Get Some Exercise
Performing a few exercises for anger management can help alleviate stress levels that can trigger anger. If you feel your anger starting to build up, go for a brisk walk or run, or engage in your favourite physical activities to let off some tension in a productive and healthy way.
6. Take a Timeout
Giving yourself a break and taking some time away from others can help you process what has happened, what you are feeling, and give you a bit of an emotional reset. However, keep in mind that this strategy works most effectively when you communicate to other people why you are using it (i.e. to stay calm, not to avoid the problem or ignore them) and ensure that you do return to solving and dealing with what is going on.
7. Use Humour to Release Tension
Bringing humour into challenging situations not only eases tension but also helps you cope with the triggers and unrealistic expectations you may have. However, when using humour, avoid sarcasm as it can be hurtful and can worsen the situation. Use humour cautiously; it may not always be appreciated. Sometimes, however, it can be the perfect thing to defuse a tense standoff.
8. Practice Gratitude
When you feel everything is going wrong, take a moment to focus on what is right. Taking time to recognize the good can help subdue anger and turn about the situation and your mood.
9. Look for a Creative Channel
Having a creative channel, such as playing an instrument, painting, gardening, or poem writing, can help transform your anger into tangible production.
10. Avoid Grudges
Forgiveness is a powerful tool that can help you move on from unpleasant past events that may have triggered your anger issues. People who let anger and other negative emotions overcome positive feelings usually find themselves engulfed by their own bitterness or sense of injustice. Forgiving someone who has caused you anger might help you both understand the situation and establish your relationship. It’s not always easy, and sometimes its not even appropriate. But it is another tool in your toolkit.
11. Once You Are Calm, Express Your Concerns
When you are thinking clearly, you are better able to express your emotions in an empathic but nonconfrontational way. Once you are calm, state your concerns as clearly and directly as possible, without hurting or trying to control others.
12. Know When to Seek Help
It can be challenging to learn how to control your anger at times. However, seeking professional anger management therapy can help you deal with the problem, especially when anger seems difficult to control.
Mastering the art of anger control takes time and plenty of effort. However, the more you practice, the easier it will get—and the outcome is great! Learning a healthy way to control and express your anger and frustrations can lead to a healthier and more satisfying life.
If you want to minimize stress, reduce anger outbursts, and improve emotional self-management, call Shlomo Radcliffe & Associates at (289) 801-4133 to book a free consultation for anger management with our Toronto therapists.