Anger is a normal emotion that we all experience from time to time. Anger is a helpful emotion that can express our negative feelings towards a certain situation or issue. It can motivate us to make a change, express our opinion or move away from something that no longer serves us.
However if anger is not expressed in a healthy way, it can affect both your health and your relationships. It is important to learn how to manage anger, to avoid harming others and more importantly yourself. Often anger can lead to uncontrolled yelling, blaming, holding grudges and resent towards others and physical harm. There are healthier ways to manage and express anger when we start to feel irritable in certain situations.
Firstly it is important to recognise when you’re feeling angry. This might look like clenching your firsts, yelling aloud, feeling flushed or having a racing mind. Acknowledge your symptoms so that you can then use the tips below to calm yourself down and express your anger in a better way.
- Gather your thoughts
Often we can find ourselves speaking and reacting out of anger without realising what we are saying. This can lead us to say things that might be hurtful and that we don’t mean, which can result in feelings of regret afterwards. Try to take a few moments to collect your thoughts to avoid any further confrontation or blame towards others. This also allows for others to do the same.
- Take some time out
When you notice feelings of anger or irritability, try to give yourself a break. A 5 or 10 minute time out can be really helpful to gather your thoughts, calm your anger and process your emotions. Try going for a walk, taking a step outside or even going into another room for some quiet time. This method is helpful to give you time to reflect on your thoughts and feelings so that you can then handle the situation in a helpful way.
- Express your emotions calmly
By expressing anger in an assertive manner, you can state your concerns and needs more clearly. This avoids hurting others and having the need to control the situation. Expressing anger does not need to be confrontational. Try to use ‘I’ statements to express your emotions, such as “I feel angry because…’ This lets the other person know how your feeling and why, which gives them the chance to respond in a more helpful way.
- Come up with solutions
Try to come up with some practical ways to solve the problem. You could try writing them out to help you decide what the best solution might be. You could also try to write out the pros and cons if you’re having difficulty with this. Problem solving can reduce any criticism or blame towards others. Reaching out to family or friends can also be helpful to give you some advice from a different perspective.
- Let go of resent
Forgiveness can often be the last thing on our minds when we feel hurt or angry. Although if you allow your anger to take over, this can lead to feelings of bitterness or holding grudges towards others. These feelings are unhealthy and unhelpful with managing anger as they can prolong your emotional state. It is important to learn from the situation in order to make things better and to strengthen your relationship with others. Letting go of these emotions are not only beneficial for yourself but also for others around you.
- Relaxation skills
Having a toolbox of relaxation skills can also be helpful for times when we feel our anger take hold. Deep breathing exercises are a key tool in calming down the nervous system and managing stress. This can be done anywhere at any time. Remember to take long deep breaths, and exhale through your mouth to let go of any negative emotions. You can also try using mantras such as ‘take it easy’ or ‘I’ll get through this’. Writing in a journal or listening to some music can also help to reduce tension.
If you are having trouble with managing your anger, consider reaching out for help from mental health professionals such as a counsellor or psychologist. Often it can be difficult to manage emotions on our own but with some guidance you can learn to express your anger in a healthy way.