Anger is a common response to frustrating or threatening experiences. It can also be a secondary response to sadness, loneliness, or fear. In this article we will learn how to recognise our anger, ways to soothe ourselves and control the emotion through applying techniques of anger management.
How can I control my anger?
There are multiple ways of learning how to manage our feelings; especially anger. These are:
- Recognising anger
- Changing the environment
- Taking time out for yourself
- Relaxation techniques
- Effective communication
- Problem solving
- Cognitive restructuring
- Using humor
- Getting professional help
Let’s look at these techniques in further detail!
What is anger management?
Anger is a universal human emotion that affects everyone. Anger is frequently seen as an unpleasant feeling that happens when we perceive we have been wounded, mistreated, or opposed in our long-held beliefs, or when we are confronted with hurdles that prevent us from achieving our goals.
Anger management can be understood as a technique to lessen the negative impacts of anger on us or the people around us. Anger is a natural emotion, therefore, it’s impossible to not feel angry. Anger is also important for you, in the way that it plays a protective function against things that hurt you. However, anger can be overwhelming to deal with. And anger management can help improve the force of anger.
Anger is a strong emotion. When you’re upset, hurt, annoyed, or disappointed, it’s a natural and healthy emotion. It could be the outcome of anything that occurs to you, something spoken or done to you, or something you recall.
Depending on how you react to anger, it can either help or hurt you. It can be beneficial if you can react without harming someone else. It comes in handy when we need to defend ourselves, and it might inspire you to make changes. However, it can cause you to lash out in ways you shouldn’t.
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Anger can be difficult to control in the heat of the moment. Detecting the emotion early on, on the other hand, can be crucial. It can help a person refocus their thoughts in a more positive direction. This can look like different things for different people.
To begin, it is important to know specific situations, people or events that trigger anger. There are a few things that can indicate that anger is taking the front seat, these might be:
- a rapid heartbeat
- faster breathing
- tension throughout the body
- restlessness, pacing, and tapping of the feet
- clenched fists and jaw
- sweating and trembling
In the situation of having these physical manifestations coming on, it is important to assess the situation and decide whether anger is the appropriate emotion to the event. Recognising anger also allows you to take a step back and engage in anger management techniques.
Changing the environment
One of the easiest and the most accessible ways of dealing with anger can be to remove yourself from the stimulating situation. It is important to take a step back and look at the situation from a different perspective. It is even okay to not want to engage with people who stir up such feelings.
If there’s someone that you routinely get into heated disputes with, like a friend or family member, talk with them about the importance of taking a time-out and resuming when you’re both feeling calm.
It helps to hit pause and resume at a time when both of you are able to effectively communicate and express your feelings without letting anger take over.
Taking time out
It might sound childish but since anger is a primitive emotion, it might help to give yourself a strict time out of your day where you sit in silence.
This fosters deeper thinking and helps you schedule your day out better while preparing for things that might come up later in the day. Giving yourself short breaks during days that you know are going to be stressful can help tremendously.
Simple relaxation tools, such as deep breathing and relaxing imagery, can help calm down angry feelings. You might also listen to music, write in a journal or do a few yoga poses — whatever it takes to encourage relaxation.
Here are some relaxation techniques known to help anger:
- Slow Breathing
Slow breathing for relaxation involves inhaling with any specific count of numbers, and exhaling double the amount. This process of deep inhalation and deeper exhalation slows down the heart, opens your lungs up and relaxes your jaw, shoulders and stomach. These are the physical pressure points where anger most commonly manifests. Doing this exercise will help reduce the emotion.
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation
The opposite of relaxation and soothing can be accomplished by progressive muscle relaxation (PMR). This technique involves tightening and tensing the stressed muscles for a slow count of ten and then releasing them.
Moving from one muscle group to another, tightening and relaxing with each cycle can help achieve even better results than relaxation alone.
More accessible ways are:
- Imagery and visualization:
Visualizing is what imagery is all about. You must first avoid seeing what is in front of you in the external environment before you can generate internal pictures to use them as a remedy against anger. The first step in letting go is to close your eyes, which may be difficult. Once you’re able to disconnect, it is time to start creating your own safe place. This can be any vacation spot, soothing childhood memory or even a silent room.
- Listening to music or specific sounds:
A study has shown listening to heavy metal or extreme kinds of music helps purge emotions like anger and depression. Sounds of rain, thunder, and nature sounds may also be relaxing particularly when mixed with other music, such as light jazz, classical, and easy listening music. For some people this may also look like listening to heavy metal or even listening to ASMR.
Using alternative, positive thought affirmations to counter our negative thinking is an important tool for managing our anger. Anchoring onto a few phrases or quotes that resonate with you might help as a tool to curb anger. Some examples of positive affirmations are:
- My anger is a signal. Time to talk to myself and to relax.
- I will remember to stop, relax and think before I act.
- I can feel my anger and still stay in control.
Being angry can make us jump to and act on conclusions that we might not be right about. The first thing to do if you’re in a heated discussion is slow down and think through your responses. It is important to slow down and think before you speak.
At the same time, if anger is taking over, make sure you either ask for clarification on what someone means and take time to listen attentively. It may take a lot of patient questioning on your part, and it may require some breathing space, but don’t let your anger take the situation out of control.
In life, there are several situations which might be confusing and frustrating. Not all anger is misdirected; in fact, it’s often a good, natural reaction to these challenges. The best attitude to bring to such a situation, then, is not to focus on finding the solution, but rather on how you handle and face the problem.
Make a plan and keep track of your progress. Try to give it your all, but don’t blame yourself if you don’t get a solution immediately. Even if the problem does not get addressed right away, if you approach it with your best intentions and make a sincere attempt to meet it head-on, you will be less likely to lose patience and slip into all-or-nothing thinking.
Cognitive restructuring is a useful technique for understanding unhappy feelings and moods, and for challenging the sometimes-wrong “automatic beliefs” that can lie behind them. When anger rises to a fever-pitch, we often get strong urges to act. The more intense the anger, the shorter the time between the angry urge and our action. Thus we act irrationally.
A helpful way to get around this is to monitor the first automatic thought that comes up with anger, for example, “This is awful, my Life is ruined” and changing this thought with a more neutral approach, like, “it’s frustrating and it’s upsetting me right now, but it’s not the end of the world. I can deal with this.”
Using humor to cope
Humoring things might aid anger. Using humour can help deal with things that are making you upset, as well as any unreasonable expectations you may have about how things should go.
There are two cautions in using humor. First, don’t try to just “laugh off” your problems; rather, use humor to help yourself face them more constructively. Second, don’t give in to harsh, sarcastic humor; that’s just another form of unhealthy anger expression.
Anger is a serious emotion, but it’s often accompanied by ideas that, if examined, can make you laugh.
Getting professional help
Therapy, either group or individual, can be a great way to explore the reasons behind your anger and identify triggers. Therapy can also provide a safe place to practice new skills for expressing anger.
Start by talking to your physician about your mood and your behavior. If you’ve been using your anger as a weapon, you could benefit from adopting healthy tactics like asking for help or speaking up assertively rather than aggressively. If you need additional help, talk to your doctor about your anger control concerns.
Many people think that anger management is about controlling their emotions, but this isn’t a healthy goal. In fact, suppressing your feelings or thoughts may cause anxiety and depression, and does not necessarily lead to a more successful life. Anger is part of an individual’s response to feeling wronged – it can be used as a motivating force for change.
The goal of anger management then isn’t necessarily to stifle all angry thoughts or actions, it’s simply to learn how to release your anger in appropriate, productive ways while still maintaining control over your reactions.
When you’re able to do this, you’ll not only feel better about yourself but also be better able to meet your needs and successfully manage conflicts within yourself and in your relationships with others!