What is Anger?
Anger is a normal, healthy, basic human emotion that all people experience at times. It is usually triggered by emotional hurt. An experience such as when we feel attacked, frustrated, deceived, invalidated, or unfairly treated may cause us to have feelings of anger. Anger is like an alarm bell that tells us that something is not right in our environment.
Types of Anger
There are several types of anger. Here are some of the most common types:
Symptoms of Anger
There are many symptoms of physical and emotional anger, and symptoms may vary from one person to another.
Emotional Symptoms of Anger
- feeling tense or nervous
- becoming easily Irritable
- feeling guilty
- experiencing ‘red mist’
- feeling humiliated
- resentful towards other people or situations
- low mood/depression
Physical Symptoms of Anger
- high blood pressure
- digestion problems such as tummy pain
- skin problems such as eczema
Long-term effects of anger have been linked to heart attacks and strokes.
Benefits of Anger
It is not difficult to see why anger can be seen in a negative light. However, if it is used in a constructive way, it can have some positives:
- motivates us to solve problems
- promotes survival
- makes us aware of injustice
- drives us towards our goals
- provides insight
- helps relationships
- gives us courage to defend ourselves
The goal of anger management is to reduce both your angry feelings and the physiological arousal that it causes.
Managing anger can sometimes feel difficult or even impossible but there are ways to help you deal with these feelings in a helpful way.
Constructive Ways to Manage Anger
Getting to the Root of Anger. Anger is a secondary emotion, there is a root (the primary emotion) that is fuelling it. Getting to the root is a key factor in managing your anger. For example, there may be primary emotion of sadness related to losing a loved one. Addressing the source, which is the grief, could lower the level of anger that you are feeling. You can get help in the form of grief counselling.
Having an awareness of Anger. Noticing that you are angry is a big help. If you are unaware, then obviously you cannot even address it. In particular pay attention to your thoughts and the feeling in your body when you are angry. Try to notice your behaviour when you are angry. Are you displaying behaviours such as rubbing your head, pacing, being sarcastic, craving substances, raising your voice, or have you got road rage? All these are common behaviours we display when we are angry.
Acceptance. Work on accepting the things you have no control over. You cannot get rid of anger. You cannot control other people’s behaviour. There will always be someone or a situation that causes you to feel angry.
Relaxation. Relaxation techniques such as regular meditation can help keep angry feelings at bay or for when you need to calm down. There are thousands of meditations around especially on YouTube such as progressive relaxation, imagery meditation. Using positive affirmations for anger can be very helpful too.
Change your environment. Sounds simple, but if your environment is causing you to feel frustrated and angry and you are in a position to change it, then change it!
Time Out. A bit of a cliché but counting to ten really does help. Counting offers a distraction from the anger arousing event. An even more powerful way of defusing anger is by taking a deep breath between each number.