Let's be really honest for a second. Honest to the level you might not be expecting to see here in this blog. It can feel a lot easier to get pissed off at the world than to deal with life sometimes. If you look around you, there's probably a lot happening that could make you angry. People don't agree with what you think or have mistreated you. There are problems all over the place. And nothing seems to be going the way that you want. When you focus on all that, it's really easy to get angry. And that's why it's so important to learn anger management tools and strategies that work.
Life is full of obstacles. It may look like other people are out there living these perfect, easy-going lives, but they're likely facing their own challenges that you just don't know about. But either way, you can learn to control your anger in a healthy way.
Your anger is trying to protect you
Protection isn't typically a word that comes to mind when we think of anger, but it's true. While we tend to think of "anger" negatively, the emotion is trying to serve a purpose in your life.
Anger is a secondary emotion. Hidden underneath your anger are the primary emotions that you're feeling. This could be things like hurt, sadness, shame, disappointment, or guilt.
Those are emotions that tend to make people feel vulnerable. Once you know this, it leaves you with a choice. You can address those difficult emotions that you're feeling or you can get angry.
For a lot of people, it's easier to get angry than to feel and process those more vulnerable emotions.
What causes anger?
Anger is a normal emotion that everyone feels at times. There are many different things that can trigger anger in our lives. Some examples of anger triggers are:
Lack of control
Violation of personal space
Physical or mental health challenges
As you can see, there are many different things that can trigger feelings of anger. Learning to identify what triggers it for you can be a helpful step in learning how to manage it. Once you know the common anger triggers you have, you can start to identify them early which allows you to be more aware of choosing how you respond in the moment.
Signs you're struggling with anger
While anger is a normal emotion that everyone experiences, it can turn into a larger challenge for some. This can be linked to many different reasons such as lack of knowing how to manage anger, past trauma, or a mental health disorder.
Signs that you're struggling with anger issues include:
Verbal or physical outbursts
Thoughts of hurting yourself or others
If you notice these signs in yourself, the following anger management tips may be able to help.
Anger management tips
There are several anger management strategies that you can try on your own to learn how to control and manage your anger.
1. Learn to recognize what anger feels like physically
It's easier to work with anger when it's less intense. This is why it's helpful to learn how to recognize what anger feels like in your body.
Notice how you feel anger in your body. This can include things like:
A racing heart rate
Short, quick breathing
Hot and sweaty
Shaking or trembling
It can feel a little differently for everyone. This is why you need to pay close attention to what anger feels like in your body. You may notice that your shoulders get tight or your neck starts to hurt.
When you can recognize the physical symptoms of anger, it can help you catch the emotion early so you can manage it before it continues to grow.
2. Walk away temporarily
If you're feeling really angry in a conversation with someone, it may be best to walk away for a short time. This can help you recollect yourself and use some of the other techniques to lower your intensity level. This can also help you avoid doing or saying something that you'll later regret.
You can use a simple sentence like, "I just need a few moments to myself." to excuse yourself from the situation.
When you're alone, think through where the anger is coming from and what the primary emotion is you're feeling. Then, when you've had a chance to clear your head a bit, you can reenter the conversation with a new perspective.
3. Ask yourself what primary emotion you're feeling
When you start to feel angry, pause for a moment and look for the underlying emotion. Ask yourself where the anger is coming from. The simple act of pausing to do this can help you shift your energy from anger to taking a proactive step to address the root cause.
Learning how to recognize the early signs of anger can help you catch address the root of it sooner.
4. Get some exercise
Studies have found that exercise can help with anger management, especially when paired with therapy and other anger management techniques.
When you exercise, your brain releases endorphins that help you to relax and boost your mood. In addition, exercise is effective at lowering blood pressure and reducing anxiety. Exercise can also be an effective way to release the emotions and energy that build up inside you.
Don't feel the pressure to have to do a certain exercise routine. Find what works the best for you that helps you to relax and lower your anger.
5. Learn relaxation techniques
There are a few different relaxation techniques that you can use to make sure your anger doesn't take control:
Visualize a relaxing scenario
Meditate on a positive word or phrase
These techniques can help in the moment, but they're also helpful to add to your daily routine.
6. Replace negative thoughts
Our thoughts have a way of working themselves out in our behaviors and actions. If you want to address the behavior, it's helpful to address the thoughts behind it.
If you struggle with anger, you may find that you have a lot of negative thoughts surrounding a situation or person. With anger issues, these thoughts tend to be exaggerated. It can help to choose more realistic and rational thoughts to replace negative thoughts with.
The act of replacing thoughts can feel challenging at first, but the more you practice it, the easier it becomes.
7. Look for solutions
If you're struggling with anger repeatedly in the same situation, evaluate if there is a solution. For example, if you become angry with your spouse when discussing important topics often in the time between arriving home from work and eating dinner, that might not be the best time to have important conversations. You may be able to better control your emotions when you've had a chance to relax and eat something first.
Not all situations have simple solutions, but if one is available, give it a try.
Why anger management is important
If you continue to let your anger go unchecked in life, it will likely have a negative impact on your life.
Unchecked anger can lead to the loss of relationships. This can include both personal and professional relationships including the loss of employment. If you continue to be controlled by your anger, there may come a time when the people in your life need to step away in order to protect their own mental and emotional health and wellness.
Unchecked anger can also lead to deteriorating health. This can include complications such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and other types of heart disease.
In addition, some of the times when people contact me about anger management help in Minnesota, it's because they've run into legal problems such as domestic assault charges. This complicates the situation even further and is a good example of why it's important to learn effective ways to manage your anger.
When to get anger management help
The best time to get anger management help is when you realize that you're struggling with it. Here are some more specific examples:
Your relationships are being negatively impacted due to your anger
There are areas of your life that feel unmanageable because of anger such as parenting or work
You've tried the DIY anger management route and continue to struggle
You feel exhausted from trying to control your anger on your own.
If you're struggling with anger, you're not alone and help is available. Don't hesitate to seek help from a licensed mental health professional.