Anger is akin to a coin. It is a primary human emotion that can be a healthy outlet to let yourself breathe from the constant stresses of life.
However, it can also be a shackle that can harm you and the people around you when it becomes uncontrollable.
It’s essential to know how to deal with anger immediately before anything goes out of hand and results in outcomes you’ll regret later. Keeping your temper in check can be challenging, but as the saying goes, a moment of patience can save you from thousands of years of tears and regret.
What is Anger, and Why Do You Get So Angry Easily?
Remember when you wanted to lash your sibling’s soul but couldn’t, so you ended up screaming into a pillow in a pit of anger? It’s frustrating not being able to avenge the bar of chocolate they stole from you, right?
Anger is like a flame that warms your chest up to your throat until you can’t hold back and either scream or cry out of frustration.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), anger is an emotion of antagonism and opposition toward something, or someone you feel has intentionally wronged you.
Anger can be a positive and a negative thing. Sometimes it’s a way to express negative emotions and lead us to find solutions to our problems. However, an excessive amount of anger can be harmful to your mental, physical, and spiritual health.
Mind explained that everyone has different reasons that trigger their anger, and it depends on how we react to and interpret a situation. Some common triggers of anger are:
- Feelings of frustration and powerlessness.
- Feeling invalidated and unfairly treated.
- People who are not respecting our feelings and possessions.
- Feelings of being threatened and attacked.
- Daily stressors.
- Violence and abuse.
It’s important to remember that people interpret a situation differently. What is not annoying for another can be annoying to others, and vice versa.
Also, our childhood upbringing, past experiences, and current circumstances can affect how we deal with our anger.
How to Deal with Anger Healthily
According to Amy Morin from VeryWell Mind, learning how to manage your anger doesn’t mean you’ll learn how never to get angry again. Instead, you’ll learn to identify, overcome, and express your anger healthily and productively.
1. Identify what triggers your anger.
Do you have a habit of losing your temper? If yes, you must take note of the things that trigger your anger. It could be traffic jams, unfinished projects, mistakes, or fatigue.
While it’s crucial not to blame others for your anger, Amy Morin explained that being familiar with your triggers will help you lessen your anger before it escalates.
Once you determine your triggers, you can devise techniques to help you manage your stress better and help avoid losing your fuse immediately.
2. Breathe in and out.
When you are angry, your brain signals that you’re in crisis. Therefore, slowing down and taking the time to do deep breaths helps tell our brain and body that we are safe.
Breathing helps you return your body to a relaxed state and think things through before you react to situations. Most importantly, you can easily do this anytime and anywhere without needing much assistance.
Breathing deep from your belly rather than your chest is crucial. You can do this a few times until you feel yourself calming down.
3. Try counting down.
When you feel anger welling up, momentarily remove yourself from the situation and count down. You can count from 1-10 or start with 100 until your anger subsides.
In the study of Osgood and Muraven, they found that counting to ten helps a person stop lashing out too harshly and prevent negative consequences. This is because counting causes delays that help a person think things through before reacting to a situation.
4. Think things through.
When angry, it’s easy to lose hold of your patience and say things you’ll regret later. Thinking before you speak allows you to recognize if your anger is helpful or not. It will also help you realize the weight of what you’ve meant to say.
Give yourself a moment and allow the people around you to do this as well. You can make a mental list of the factors that made you angry and their possible effects on you and the people around you.
5. Express your anger.
To prevent bottling up your feelings, you have to find a healthy outlet to express them. Do you have someone or something that has a calming effect on you? You can spend time with them to help you release pent-up anger.
However, it’s crucial to note that venting your anger should be cautiously done as it could lead to negative effects rather than positive ones.
In the study of Qu et al., the researchers found that physically and verbally expressing anger can make the duration of one’s anger longer.
That’s why when deciding to express your anger, ensure that you’ll do it in a healthy way. Ask your friend if sharing your emotions with them will be alright, and if it is, ensure that you’ll also find solutions to overcome your situation.
Regarding activities, rather than smashing things (that have been trending today), finding peaceful hobbies like a spiritual cleansing, art therapy, enjoying nature, and listening to music can help you release anger safely.
6. Move your body.
According to the Mayo Clinic, involving yourself in physical activities is helpful in reducing the stress that can cause you to become angry. Any physical activities that you think will help you relax are okay.
When you feel angry, spend some time walking or running. You can also dance and stretch your body out to release the pent-up emotions you’ve been carrying.
If you are into peaceful types of activities, you can do yoga, tai chi, meditation, and deep breathing.
7. Recognize the facts.
It’s easy to get your mind clouded by emotions when angry. Thoughts that ignite your anger can emerge, so reframing your thoughts and focusing on facts would be best when you feel this way.
For instance, you’re angry about your food that’s still not arriving. Angry thoughts like, ‘I arrived first, but others get served first. Are they doing it on purpose?” can make you feel more agitated.
Instead of focusing on this thought, refocus your mind on the facts. Is the restaurant understaffed? Or does the food you ordered need a longer time to cook compared to the others?
When you shift your focus to facts, you’ll be able to clear your mind of unrealistic possibilities sparked by your anger.
Unhealthy Ways of Expressing Anger
Since childhood, many of us have been conditioned to suppress anger as it is deemed a taint in our personality.
Negative traits of failure, weakness, and ungratefulness were associated with anger, and because of this, individuals have come up with different ways to deal with their anger, and most of them are unhealthy.
Katy Halverson from Intermountain Healthcare explained that anger could have negative effects when they are managed correctly. Anger can cause chronic pain, sleep difficulties, and digestive issues when expressed incorrectly and when suppressed.
She also added that it could also cause us to hurt the people around us or lead to consequences we might lament later. That’s why it’s important to recognize the three ways we express anger unhealthily.
Some people release or respond to anger through aggressive actions. Some physically break things or, worse, hurt the people around them. Also, using hurtful words to release anger is unhelpful and leads to regretful situations.
You can hurt others when you use sarcastic remarks. Unlike what most think of, sarcasm is not humor, as it is a form of hostility that can hurt others.
Sarah Swenson from Good Therapy explained that sarcasm is from the Greek word sarkazein, which means to tear flesh like a dog. She explained that sarcasm is hostility masked as humor.
You might express yourself through sarcasm to mask your anger, but instead of helping, it will only make things worse between you and the people around you.
Katy Halverson explained that criticism and finding fault in others are harmful ways to express anger. She explained that some individuals prefer to criticize their colleagues for dealing with anger instead of working things out together, which is unproductive and unhealthy at the same time.
Wrapping It Up!
Anger, in itself, is not a bad thing, as how you deal with it determines if it’s harmful or not.
When expressed correctly, anger can be a healthy way to release suppressed emotions and help you lower the risks of depression, anxiety, and physical ailments like heart disease.
However, anger can backfire when you suppress and express it unhealthily, leading to physical and mental health issues.
It’s important to be mindful of how you deal with anger to prevent situations that you might regret later. Some of the healthy ways of expressing anger are:
- Identifying your triggers.
- Breathing in and out.
- Counting down.
- Thinking things through.
- Expressing your anger healthily.
- Moving your body.
- Distinguishing facts from angry thoughts.
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