What is Anger?
Anger is a normal and healthy emotion that is part of being human. Most people experience episodes of anger in their lives, which are manageable and often pass by without any big impact on their lives. Indeed, despite being arguably perceived as a negative thing, anger can in fact be a useful emotion. It is an uncomfortable emotion but for good reason; to get us to pay attention to it!
How can anger benefit us?
It can keep us safe!
Anger can help us stay safe in dangerous situations. It is often linked to the ‘Fight or Flight response’ which is a physiological reaction that happens in response to a perceived dangerous situation and attempts to prepares our bodies with the required energy and alertness to survive the situation.
It can help set Boundaries!
Anger can present itself in many different settings, including at home. An example of an anger trigger could be a parent, who constantly asks their young adult son/daughter, “When you are going to get a ‘proper’ job?” Recognising your feelings of anger can help establish boundaries with your parents in this situation by managing the conversation.
It can motivate you to get things done!
Anger can motivate you to get things done. For example, if you feel under-appreciated at work you may feel angry. These feelings can help you make life decisions and changes such as seeking out a job where you do feel appreciated.
It can motivate self-change!
If we can identify when or why we are angry, we can learn what we need to do to make changes and improve our wellbeing and lives.
When does anger become a problem?
Despite having useful benefits, anger can become problematic when it gets out of control and harms you or others around you. Here are some signs that this may have happened:
- You express your anger regularly through destructive and unhelpful behaviours;
- Anger is your first ‘go-to emotion’ and, in doing so, is blocking out your ability feel other emotions;
- Your anger is having a negative effect on your physical or emotional health;
- Your anger is having a negative impact on your relationships;
- You are unable to express your anger in a healthy way.
How do we recognise unhelpful angry behaviours?
How you behave or react when you feel angry can depend on a number of factors. One of these could be how you’ve learnt to express the feelings. Here are some examples of unhelpful ways to express anger:
- Ignoring people or refusing to speak to them, or deliberately doing tasks wrong or late;
- Being physically or verbally violent towards others, e.g.; shouting, breaking objects,
- swearing, and generally being threatening towards others;
- Turning your anger towards yourself resulting in self-harm, e.g.; not eating enough and denying yourself things that you enjoy.
What methods can you use to help control your anger?
There are various techniques that we can adopt to help control and manage our anger:
Look out for the warning signs!
The first important stage is to recognise your anger so that you are able to manage it. Some of the warning signs can include physical symptoms, e,g,; increased heart rate, faster than normal breathing, a tensing in the body (often fists or the jaw), and emotional symptoms, including; feelings of irritation, panic, or guilt.
Listen to your anger!
Ask yourself – what is your anger telling you? If you can identify what it is that is triggering your feelings of anger, you can learn to cope with it. Try and stop briefly and ask yourself what painful emotion you are feeling in the situation that has made you angry. Being more compassionate towards yourself and the pain you are feeling may help you stop taking the pain out on others.
Keep a journal!
If you understand what you are getting angry about, you can deal and cope with it better. Keeping a journal about your anger can help with this. You could try writing down what you were doing at the time when you got angry and the thoughts that you experienced. This may help you recognise any patterns of your anger and gain a better self-understanding of what makes you feel angry.
Try and take back control of your body through your breathing. One method is to count to 10 slowly – this can help focus your mind on taking care of yourself, reduce your heart rate, therefore allowing you gain control before your anger results in unhelpful behaviour.
Do something to distract yourself such as writing a journal, put on some upbeat music, go for a walk, or doing something creative. This can help you gain control of your feelings.
A few changes in our lifestyle can also help with managing our feelings of anger. Try to avoid drugs and alcohol as, despite appearing to offer short-term relief, they can affect your ability to control your actions. Try and increase your levels of exercise – the hormones that are released when you feel angry are adrenal and cortisol. Through exercise these hormones can be regulated better. Exercise also increases our levels of endorphins which can help us feel happier and less likely to feel angry. Try and get more sleep too – sleep can have a huge impact on how we feel and cope with things (sleep tips coming in a blog post soon!).
If any of these things affect you, why not book a free 30 minute initial appointment with us on email@example.com (693 554925), or firstname.lastname@example.org (654 065721).