Ever felt how the fire creeps from your stomach when someone cuts you off in traffic? Do you have that one coworker you know is going to make you furious the moment he opens his mouth? Scientists and doctors agree anger is a natural response to certain things – but letting it go too far can result in serious issues for you and those who are around you. That’s why it’s important to learn how to manage anger.
It’s best to understand what anger is, how to differentiate it from wrath, what are the anger warning signs, and how to deal with it before and after it happens. That way, you’ll be able to express discomfort without burning entire bridges in the process.
Defining anger: between healthy expressions and all-out wrath
Simply put, anger is an emotional response – an emotional state triggered by something internal or external. In small doses, anger is completely healthy and even necessary – bottling up your emotions may seem healthy at first but it is a detrimental strategy in the long-term.
The problem with anger lies in letting it roam free, doing whatever it wants to ourselves and those who are close to us. Cursing a little bit (and promptly calming down) because the vending machine won’t take your money is okay; trying to go three MMA rounds with the vending machine because it doesn’t have your favorite brand of chocolate is not okay.
Having big angry outbursts or continuous anger bouts is not only terrible for your personality, but it can also affect your health. Plus, what type of life would you rather lead? A tranquil life where you are in charge of your emotions or a life where you’re reacting to everything impulsively and you’re always enraged? Learn how to manage anger to manage a better life.
What is wrong with anger?
Anger issues can lead to health risks and social problems. Usually, both happen at the same time. The angrier you are, the bigger the issue you will have because of it. It’s also not a great state of mind to constantly be in. If you find yourself asking “why am I so angry all the time?“, this article is for you.
If you’re unable to control your anger around people, you’re bound to have social-related problems: you might say something you don’t want to say to your family or friends, you may lash out at your boss or co-workers, jeopardizing your job, or you might make brash decisions when you are driving, putting yourself and other people at risk.
If you let your anger control you, it’s bound to put you in danger. It can also lead to a lot of health issues, such as:
- High blood pressure
Anger can also develop into further problems down the road, like depression, substance abuse, or passive-aggressive behavior. Past a certain point, anger can take hold of you and it can change your personality. Because of that, it’s always better to practice anger management or let go of angry feelings the moment it presents itself, and not let it take over.
Think of anger as you giving power to other people, things, or events. Imagine people, things, or events having so much control over you that they change or affect your mood. Allowing yourself to get angry when someone else insults you, is giving them power over you. Take the power back and be the king of queen of your emotions.
Man conquers the world by conquering himself.
When you’re able to manage your emotions, especially the more passionate emotions such as anger, everything else unlocks for you in life. The world is yours.
Keeping the fire at bay: anger prevention
The best form of anger management is to avoid it altogether. If you can’t help but get angry about something, it’s best to not deal with that thing, unless you absolutely have to. When you find yourself in all-out anger bouts after your favorite team loses the championship once more, it’s time to walk away from sports for a little while. Finally, if your significant other drives you crazy past the point of healthy anger, or you’re feeling trapped, you might want to take a little time off from the relationship.
You should also be able to ask yourself if you are the problem, instead of the situation you are dealing with: if you are constantly getting worked up at everything, the issue may be internal and not external – something you’ll have to work out no matter what. It takes a lot of maturity to come to this realization and see that the common denominator in these bouts of anger is you. When you’re trying to understand how to manage anger, it needs to start with you, not the things that make you angry.
Signs you need to look out for when anger is taking over
Several telltale signs can warn you when your anger is about to come to town. It’s in your best interest to pay attention to these signs and act accordingly. Otherwise, you might suffer another anger-related episode. If you begin to feel any of these symptoms, it’s best to realize what’s going on and analyze the situation. The worst thing you can do is ignore them altogether – if you know what to expect and ignore it, you’ll get twice as angry because you didn’t care.
If any of these physical warning signs begin to show, you might be about to feel angry:
- Multiple muscles start to get tense
- Your heartbeat increases quickly
- You start to breathe faster
- You begin to clench your fists
- Your bite down on your jaw
Meditation for anger
Before we finally dive into the 9 practical tips to help you manage your anger, we first wanted to introduce and talk about meditation for anger. If you’ve never meditated before, it may be worth trying before going into any of the below tips, or using it as a supplement for the below tips.
Meditation is a way to help you change your relationship to your emotions, in particular strong emotions such as anger. You might not be able to make anger go away, but you can change how you respond or react whenever that emotion arises. It will help improve your mental health and even support healing mental health problems you may have, which play into anger problems.
Mindfulness is what is taught and learned through a regular meditation practice. It’s nothing mystical or spiritual. It’s a practical exercise of watching your thoughts and emotions as they enter your consciousness, without judging them or following them with more thinking. It will give you the quiet time you need to start feeling calmer and reduce stress levels.
9 tips to manage your anger
If you didn’t pay attention to the anger warning-signs or things happened all too quickly for you to do something about it, don’t worry. It’s not all lost yet. There are a couple of anger management strategies and methods you can follow to calm yourself down, or at least, work on your issues later on as not to repeat the same scenario over and over again.
1. Concentrate on your breathing
Take deep, conscious breaths, and breathe deeply. While you are doing so, pay attention to your breathing pattern. Feel how the air fills up your lungs and stomach when you inhale, and how the air travels from your lungs through your mouth to the outside world when you exhale. Repeat the process as many times as necessary. The first couple of breaths are going to be shallow and quick – you need to keep going in order to breath deeper and eventually calm down.
When you don’t know how to manage your anger, focusing on the breath and deep breathing is a good place to go. Before reacting and responding, go to the breath. Stay here for a few seconds. See what happens to the anger as you stick with the breath.
2. Start counting
It doesn’t matter if it’s from 1 to 10 or 1 to 1000 – you have to count your way into a more relaxed mental state. Some people need to count to three for them to calm down and begin to control anger they feel. Other people might be dealing with bigger issues and need to keep going until they get back to normal. Just as if you were taking deep breaths, count slowly and with no intention of finishing anytime soon. If you try to rush your way through the count, you’re going to get worked up – and that’s not what you want.
3. Laugh at the problem
If the problem is not as serious, try to laugh at it. Sometimes the best way to let feelings subside, when it comes to knowing how to manage anger, is laughter. Let’s say you spilled coffee on your shirt, there’s no reason to get worked out about it. Have a laugh and move on – you can clean it after. Try to be positive and you may avoid anger altogether.
Laughter, humor, and self-deprecating humor are the easiest (and even the more enjoyable) ways to diffuse and disarm your anger. Most things are not worth getting so worked up over, and most things that happen to us are so absurd or random that one can’t help but find the humor in it.
4. Take a step back
If things are a little bit serious and you feel justified anger about to turn into complete and utter wrath, take a step back immediately. It doesn’t matter what it is, remove yourself from the situation – angry solutions never fix anything. Go for a brisk walk or a drive, clear out your head. The solution is waiting for you when you calm down, if you decide to stay angry you’re only going to harvest more problems later on.
A clear head is where you’re able to apply your best thinking to come up with a solution to your problems. Anger only clouds your judgment and leaves you making poorer choices.
Sometimes you’ll need to physically get rid of your anger. Anger will energize you enough to do a killer workout at the gym or to push yourself more than usual when you go practice the sport you love. The moment you step into the gym or wherever you train, is the very same moment you stop thinking about whatever that’s making you angry. If you keep your anger-baggage with you, you’re going to have a sloppy workout, not an intense one. By the time you’re finished, your problems are going to seem small in comparison – or you’ll be too tired to care.
Find a physical outlet for your anger. For some it’s going for a walk or run, for others it’s hitting a heavy bag or lifting some weights. Getting physical is how many people manage their anger.
6. Find a way to channel your anger
Art is often thought of as a way to express your emotions. Anger, whether good or bad, is an emotion. You can try to draw, paint, sing or dance your problems away. Playing drums is a great mixture of this and exercise. Just as if you were working out, whatever is causing you pain and anger should leave the room when you’re doing art. You’re only there to express what you feel, not to submerge yourself into what got you upset.
7. Keep an anger diary
If you decided to write it down as a way to channel your anger into something useful, that’s great! If you don’t know how to do any of the things above, you can always write something down – like your own story. Keep a journal where you talk to yourself about what caused your anger, how did you react to it, what did you do to fix it, and how can you evolve as a person from the incident. You have to be completely honest with yourself – that way, you’ll be able to read it later on and see how better or worse you’re doing, and what can you do to improve.
If nothing is working for you, it’s best to seek professional help. Anger is a serious issue for some people, and it might be affecting you more than you think. An anger management program is an effective option when everything else seems to not help. Doing therapy or taking anger-management counseling might be the difference between constant wrath and healthy living, so it could be in your best interest to consider this option.
9. Express anger productively and positively
Clearly, when angry feelings surface, there are times when these feelings are justified. When you’re learning how to manage anger, not every option has to appear as though you’re bottling up angry thoughts and angry feelings. Expressing anger can be done in a positive and productive way, especially at something that’s unfair, unjust, or just plain wrong.
Some of the most important change in human history has come when people got angry about something and expressed their anger in a productive way. This can be something as small as finding the courage to make your complaint known to calling out something that’s unfair or unjust. Express your anger in a way so that it’s received and heard. Anger is something people respond to quickly. But if it’s taken the wrong way, it’s hard to be heard.
Don’t resort to physical violence, respond aggressively, or start lashing out at frustrating situations. Instead, express anger in productive ways. Avoid sarcasm, offer a different perspective, stay calm, and put together an argument that makes sense. Use your anger as a fuel to fire you to do the right thing, not cause more destruction or damage.
Start managing your anger
Remember, it’s best to recognize when anger is working as a normal emotional response and when it is a problem that might be detrimental for you. Everyone feels angry from time to time, and it’s not something to worry about. When your anger is intense and has long-lasting consequences, that’s when you have to start to think about how to deal with it.