Anger is an innate human emotion that is a result of a perceived threat, extreme grievance or emotion. Anger is a healthy emotion! It helps release frustration and returns an individual to a baseline mood. It’s normal to get angry.
Emotions shouldn’t take over your health. Similarly, to anger, sadness shouldn’t rule your life or cause difficulties for you. Everything is healthy in moderation – emotions included.
Everybody feels anger; However, coping methods and reaction to this emotion can vary. For some people, the reaction to anger and stress levels can result in the worst case scenario of lashing out with aggression or violence.
There should be an intervention if anger is leading to negative consequences such as:
- Poor relationships
- Terminated employment
- Problems with the law
- Damaged property
- Poorly effecting day-to-day life
A therapist may use anger management as a tool for people who have an extreme reaction to anger. Anger management techniques can help the you: stay calm, lower health issues, improve self-esteem and provide a time-out.
An appropriate response to angry feelings helps with personal mental health and wellbeing. But without an appropriate response severe anger issues can lead to further mental health problems.
Anger management can be a long process. You have to retrain your brain and improve your behavior. However, there’s hope if you are struggling.
Anger should not dictate your life or damage your mental wellbeing. By implementing anger management techniques, you’re taking control of your emotions again.
Read below for a working definition on anger management and tips on anger management.
What Is Anger Management
Anger management teaches appropriate coping techniques in order to handle anger in more healthy ways. Anger management is “the process of learning to recognize signs that you’re becoming angry, and taking action to calm down and deal with the situation in a productive way.” (Mayo Clinic)
Anger management can really help people that have poor coping methods in reaction to their anger such as violence, threats, criticism, aggressive communication or yelling.
There is a wide spectrum of people who come in for anger management Typically, people that need anger management classes are not always angry. Anger might only flare up occasionally. Others might have a court order or are coming because a romantic partner has threatened to leave them if they do not get help. What they all have in common is that they all need better coping methods and stress management techniques to handle their anger, and this is the chief goal of anger management.
Anger management may be court ordered, or recommended to individuals that:
- Focus on negative situations that encourage an angry response
- Live in constant resentment and frustration
- Begins arguments with loved ones
- Cannot hold a job for long periods of time due to frequent outbursts
- Have poor and unstable relationship history
- Start fights
- Drive recklessly
- Frequently damage property due to a violent outburst
- Suffer from anxiety or depression over a previous violent outburst
How Does Anger Management Work?
A therapist may help a client recognize situations that fuel angry episodes. The therapist and client will explore the client’s past and present to really understand what’s going on. Following the analysis, healthy coping mechanisms and appropriate outlets will be taught and used such as learning to communicate effectively and assertively.
Anger management outlines the harm that anger causes. It also helps an individual process and work through the anger. A therapist or physician may discuss potential repercussions and consequences of anger.
A variety of tools can be recommended to create a more stable mental state when one responds poorly to anger.
We will outline some tools below.
Why Do People Get Angry?
Anger is a completely healthy and natural response. Even-tempered people get angry, too. What’s important is learning to control the emotion.
Anger is a physiological response to:
- Stressful situations
- Extreme emotion
- Lost patience
- Slow drivers/fast drivers
Anger causes: high blood pressure, increased heart rate, adrenaline, and a fight-or-flight response. Because anger is a biological response, it cannot be avoided. Based on genetics, medical conditions, and brain chemistry, it may lead to poor behavior.
Unhealthy anger can lead to health complications. Anger can result in heart disease, insomnia, high blood pressure and a weak immune system. Furthermore, it may make concentration difficult and lead to depression and anxiety.
Many clinicians believe that intense anger may be related to environmental challenges. If a child grows up watching parents have angry outbursts, they may begin to model this behavior. Thus, severe anger has a cyclic effect on multiple generations.
For environmental causes, a patient must retrain the brain to respond appropriately to anger. This can be a hard process, so working with a psychotherapist will help.
Managing anger productively is imperative for appropriate relationships.
How To Manage Anger
Depending on the person and the situation, a variety of tools and resources may be used.
It is essential that a client stay diligent in implementing the tools that best correct their individual behavior. Anger management is a life-long commitment. Here are a few anger management tips and relaxation techniques to use to control anger.
The hardest step in your anger management process is identifying the problem! It can be hard to recognize that you need resources to better control your anger. People who suffer from negative anger justify their actions with other’s actions. After all, there is a situation that ignites the angry outbursts. The client must acknowledge that he/she needs to manage their anger in a more productive manner.
After acknowledging the behavior, the client must dig deep to identify triggers. Some common triggers are slow walkers blocking the sidewalk, being interrupted, feeling you were disrespected, traffic, chronic lateness, et cetera.
Reevaluate relationships that result in intense, frequent anger.
Acknowledge that it is your responsibility to identify the cause and improve your behavior. As with most psychological issues, self-awareness is the first step to healing.
Using talk therapy is a common suggestion for anger management patients. Therapy may also be a healthy management option.
Group Therapy: Group therapy connects a group of people that have a common problem. It creates a sense of community. Group therapy is a good option for people that seek support.
One-on-One Therapy: During one-on-one therapy, you work directly with a therapist. You heal past trauma, identify triggers and determine coping methods. One-on-one therapy is personalized to your needs.
Assertiveness Training: Learning to communicate your feelings in healthy and respectful ways is key to using your anger positively rather than just being aggressive with others.
Some anger management experts suggest suppressing angry outbursts in the moment and coming back and dealing with the situation when calm.
Though this can be really challenging for some. Suppression can be used for individuals that overreact to minute situations. Some therapists will suggest using a stress ball to relieve tension.
Remove yourself from a situation that has the potential to escalate. Research suggests that an aggressive or frustrating situation lasts, on average, 45 minutes. Removing oneself from the situation for 45 minutes can often have a positive effect.
Following the cool down period, the conversation may begin to flow more productively.
During a time-out after a period of conflict, relaxing activities are recommended with the goal of calming down.
Take a walk in nature, drinking some water or reading a book. This period will allow the physiological responses to cool off. Allow Blood pressure and heart rate to return to normal.
Physical activity is an excellent tool when faced with a frustrating situation. Many anger patients enjoy running, yoga or weight lifting when angry.
During exercise, focus on deep, rhythmic breathing, and focus on flowing movements. Activity will help return your body to a steady state and give your mind a break from a stressful situation.
Working out is an excellent tool to work out your anger in a healthy way.
Laughter is the best medicine.
Use laughter as a tool during anger. Laughing releases endorphins and has a healthy biological response to your mood. When angry, watch a comedy or spend time with a funny friend. This is a great way to cut through the intensity of triggering situations.
Counting down from 10 is a traditional anger management technique that distracts the patient from the situation. It also creates a barrier from the anger by having another task at hand.
When anger is starting to overcome a client, it’s best to remove oneself from the situation and count backward from 10. If that doesn’t offer enough time to recovery from frustration, try counting down from 100.
When overcome with a frustrating situation, begin to stretch. Stretching can really help ease the tension in the body that results from anger. Often when the body relaxes the mind follows suit. Doing something other than what you are angry about can also bring the angry feelings down in intensity. Even as a temporary distraction while the angry feelings dissolve.
This gets your body moving, refocuses your brain and mimics yoga-like activity which is healthy for both the body and mind.
Repeating a mantra is an excellent technique for anger management and depression. This practice soothes the central nervous system while refocusing the brain.
Try repeating a simple mantra such as, “just for this moment, I will be calm.” or “Just for today I will treat everyone with kindness” . During your mantra, focus on deep breathing.
Get your thoughts out in a way that is productive and healthy! Journaling is a healthy outlet. Express yourself without causing harm to yourself or others. Jot down all the negative feelings you have to release your anger. Do it using your smart phone or on paper – it does not matter – as long as you externalize these feelings you are activating a solution.
Picture a Stop Sign or Imagine Your Anger as a Passing Wave
Picturing a stop sign is another healthy avenue to release yourself of your negative emotions.
This has been a tried-and-true psychologist tip for decades. Close your eyes and picture the stop sign as a symbolic notion.
Similarly, imagine your feeling as a wave. You’re standing in the ocean and you get hit by it. Feel it wash up over your body. Sometimes we get hit by big waves that last for a long time and sometimes it is short and intense ones that dissipate as quickly as they raise. The key here is to brace yourself and remind yourself that you can handle this wave. Acknowledge what size it is and remind yourself that it will end. Sometimes I tell myself, “my word, this ones gonna hurt” and I stand strong and confident and ready for it.
When To Get Professional Help
You’re Posing A Risk
If you’re posing a risk to yourself of others, you should seek a therapist.
Seek a therapist if your anger is resulting in damaged relationships such as:
- Romantic relationships
- Relationships with co-workers
- Relationships with family members
- Professional relationships
- Court orders
Anger should not manifest in physical violence or toxic relationships.
If you suspect that past trauma is contributing to angry outbursts, you may have deep, unresolved issues. In this circumstance, one-on-one therapy can identify triggers and uncover past trauma.
Damage To Property
Your anger should not result in damage to property. If you are punching walls or breaking personal belongings, then you have not implemented appropriate coping methods. Psychological intervention should occur in situations that lead to property damage.
Your anger should not make day-to-day life frightening for others or difficult.
If you feel that you’re struggling with poor anger control, get help now! Once you create better coping methods, anger will no longer take over your life.
Violent outbursts and unproductive anger can be frustrating. Due to the physiological response, it can feel as though your reaction is out of your control; However, it isn’t.
By addressing your anger, you can live a healthier life.
With any psychological struggle, some techniques can help and there is always hope! Psych Company therapists are well-trained and can support you overcoming your complicated behavior.
If you think you could use anger management, contact a Psych Company mental health therapist.
You should notice an improvement in your life, wellbeing and relationships.
By seeking help, you’re taking responsibility for your actions! Feelings of anger can dissipate with the proper intervention and resources.
The first step is acknowledging that you have a problem with anger. From there, you can work to fix it! It may be a long process, but it will be rewarding in the end.