Anger - we've all felt it and have perhaps even projected it onto those around us, but are all feelings of frustration and aggravation bad? Not necessarily.

Anger is actually a completely normal human emotion, it's just when it turns destructive - to ourselves and/or others - that it becomes an issue and can cause problems in multiple areas of your life, including personal relationships, work and your overall wellbeing.

While feelings of anger can be overwhelming and all-encompassing, there are many effective, productive ways to manage them.

Breaking down anger

According to psychologist Charles Speilberger, PhD, anger is defined as "an emotional state that varies in intensity from mild irritation to intense fury and rage".

Like with other emotions, the feeling of anger is often accompanied with both mental and physical changes like increased heart rate and blood pressure, and levels of energy hormone adrenaline.

It's the response to what your body and mind deems as a threat or trigger, allowing us to defend ourselves. So, while anger is an important part of our survival, it doesn't justify lashing out at every person or situation that aggravates us.

Expressing anger

There are three approaches when it comes to dealing with anger: expressing, suppressing and calming.

Expressing your anger, in an assertive way, is the healthiest way to manage it. Essentially you need to make clear what your needs are (or why you're angry) and how to meet those needs (work towards neutralising the anger) without hurting yourself or others in the process.

Suppressing your anger is the most damaging approach. Keeping your frustrations in, not communicating them effectively or allowing yourself the full capacity to feel them creates bigger problems.

You might think that ignoring your anger and focusing on something more positive is a good thing, but you cab end up internalising your anger and taking it out on yourself; causing things like hypertension, high blood pressure and depression.

Suppressing your anger can also lead to problems with others, encouraging passive-aggressive behaviour on your part (spitefully 'getting back at' someone without addressing the issue head on) or even portraying yourself as a cynical, hot-headed, hostile person - when that isn't actually the case. This makes maintaining healthy relationships with others extremely difficult.

This is where the calming approach comes in.

Settling yourself down doesn't mean ignoring your anger, it means you control your outward behaviours, and your internal responses, by acknowledging your feelings and then allowing them to subside.

Anger management strategies

Here are some ways to not only deal with frustration, but keep them at bay as well.

Relaxation

Learning techniques like deep breathing and meditation will make managing your anger, and embracing calm, much easier - and with minimal effort!

Whether you download an app or take an in-person or virtual class, it won't take long for you to know how to apply these tools to your daily life.

Try these easy steps at home first:

  • Breathe in through your nose, into your belly - not your chest - hold for a couple of seconds if you can, then breathe out through your mouth. You can even make an audible sigh to really let go of any tension.

  • Slowly repeat a calming word, like "relax" or even "calm", while breathing deeply.

  • Yoga exercises, so long as they're not too strenuous, can relax your muscles and instil calm into your entire body.

Change your surroundings

Sometimes your immediate environment can cause irritation or rage - perhaps you're sitting at your desk at work, frustrated with a task or colleague.

Remove yourself from the situation. Get up, take a break, even for five minutes. Don't return to whatever that environment is until you feel calm and ready to re-engage.

Restructure how you think

Try replacing your angry thoughts with more rational ones.

Instead of telling yourself, "This is terrible, everything's ruined, I can't handle this", think "yes this is frustrating, and I'm allowed to be upset but this will pass and getting angry isn't going to fix anything".

Communicate better

Before you jump to conclusions about why you're angry, slow down and think about your response.

Don't say whatever pops into your mind first. Listen to what the other person you might be disagreeing with is saying before answering. When you do answer, don't raise your voice, calmly tell them you hear what they are saying - it's a conversation, not a battle.

If you're finding it hard to manage feelings of anger and your response to them, speak to a trained health professional or contact one of the below helplines, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week:


If you have any questions or need extra support, we're here to help you anytime in any language.

Article originally published by: American Psychological Association

Image credit: Elisa Ventur on Unsplash

All content is created and published for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Always seek the guidance of a qualified professional.

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