Anger is a normal human emotion that we all experience at some point or another. While anger has been commonly regarded as a ‘negative’ emotion, it is important to understand that feeling angry is not inherently bad. In fact, anger can be important for helping us recognize changes that we want to make in our lives or in the world.
An important part of mental well-being is letting all of our emotions rise to the surface instead of pushing down what seems too uncomfortable or painful. Ignoring or suppressing our anger can be extremely harmful to our health, as it can lead to depression and psychological stress over time. For more information about various mental health challenges, click here.
However, expressing our anger in uncontrollable and destructive ways is not healthy either and has the potential to do irreversible damage. The key is to learn how to tap into our anger and understand it, without letting it wreak havoc in our relationships and workplaces.
While managing your anger can be challenging, here are 5 helpful tips for starting to work with it in a constructive way.
5 Tips for Managing Anger
- Take time away from the situation
If you find yourself triggered by a certain person or event, and you feel anger rising up in your body, the best thing you can do is to walk away and take a time out. Instead of responding in the heat of the moment and saying/doing something you might regret, allow yourself the space to process your thoughts and re-engage at a later time.
- Process your feelings
In many cases, anger emerges to mask underlying feelings such as fear, embarrassment, disappointment or sadness. It can be easier for people to get angry than to allow the presence of these vulnerable emotions. However, understanding what you are truly feeling and labeling it accurately is helpful for letting the emotions move through you. You might consider processing your feelings through writing in a journal or talking with a trusted family member or friend.
- Practice relaxation techniques
Strategies such as deep breathing and mindfulness techniques are helpful when experiencing overwhelming anger. You might try progressive muscle relaxation which involves tensing and relaxing certain parts of your body, or slowly counting to 10. These strategies help to move your focus away from the intensity of your emotions and towards grounding yourself in your body and surroundings.
- Get moving
Channel your rage into physical activity! Going for a brisk walk or run, putting on your favorite music and dancing, or exercise classes such as boxing can help you to release stress and tension. During exercise, the body releases endorphins which produces positive feelings.
- Express your emotions calmly and constructively
Once you have calmed down to the extent you are no longer emotionally flooded, it is perfectly okay to express your anger. Remember to focus on using ‘I’ messages (such as ‘I feel ___’ when) and conveying your own experience instead of attacking others (like ‘You never help with the dishes’ or ‘You always criticize me’). Giving voice to your anger in a constructive way can be positive for advocating for your needs and setting appropriate boundaries with others.
When to Seek Professional Support
If you find that you are still having difficulties with controlling your anger, you may find it beneficial to seek out professional support from a mental health professional. A therapist can help work with you in order to help you develop tools for identifying your anger and addressing it before it escalates. It is possible to acknowledge your anger and work with it in ways that enhance your life instead of damaging it.
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with Mind-Diagnostics.org. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.