Anger is a perfectly healthy and normal human emotion. It becomes an issue when anger dominates our experiences so much that it impacts us socially, at work and in our personal relationships. Anger brings with it not only a psychological impact but physiological changes as well in the body depending on its severity.
Whenever we are angry, it triggers our stress response – the fight or flight response, just like in fear, excitement and anxiety. Our adrenal glands produce the stress hormone preparing the body for physical exertion. There are also changes in the level of energy and hormones. Blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and respiration increase, body temperature rises and our skin perspires. Anger can cause irritability, rage, stress, guilt, feeling of overwhelm, frustration and anxiety. Anger, if left untreated can cause long-term health problems linked to severe headaches, digestion problems, anxiety, depression, insomnia, skin problems, heart attack, stroke, and high blood pressure. Anger also strains our relationships with our loved ones.
Causes of Anger:
A group of Yale University psychologists in the year 1939 (Miller, Dollard, Doob) explained that aggression can stem from frustration with unachieved goals. It can also result from a past trauma, a current unachieved goal, an argument with a stranger or loved one, cancelled trip, worrying about a future problem, a feeling of injustice, betrayal, rejection, abandonment, or interference by others.
There are multiple ways in which people express anger:
Anger Management Tips:
When you feel angry, determine if your anger is a substitute emotion. Many times, one hides pain and expresses anger. Being angry is simply a distraction to avoid feeling the pain. In anger, one’s attention shifts from self to others. So, next time you are
Step 1: Ask yourself – Are you hiding your pain or hurt emotions behind this anger? If your answer is Yes, then step 2. If no, then stop.
Step 2: Is this anger interfering with my daily life and relationships? If your answer is yes, then move to Step 3.
Step 3: Follow the tips given below to manage your anger.
Step 4: Seek Professional help if step 3 is not helpful.
If you find that your anger is interfering with your daily life and relationships, it may be helpful to seek professional help. A mental health professional can help you identify the underlying causes of your anger and teach you techniques for managing it more effectively. Some of the tips that are helpful in managing anger are as mentioned below:
- Taking a break: If you find yourself becoming angry, take a break from the situation and give yourself time to cool down.
- Practice Mindfulness: Mindfulness involves being present in the moment and paying attention to your thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations. By practicing mindfulness, you can become more aware of when you are starting to feel angry and learn to manage your emotions more effectively.
- Communicating assertively: Assertive communication involves expressing your thoughts and feelings in a clear and respectful manner. By communicating assertively, you can prevent misunderstandings and reduce the likelihood of conflicts that can lead to anger.
- Identify the triggers: Understanding what triggers your anger can help you anticipate and avoid situations that are likely to provoke an angry response.
- Write your Feelings: Maintain a diary to write down – what caused you to be upset, how you feel, and the various thoughts going through your mind when you are angry.
- Breathing exercises: Practice focussed deep breathing regularly twice a day for 5 minutes each.
- Seek support: Talking to a trusted friend or counsellor can provide a safe space to express and process feelings of anger.
- Take care of yourself: Engage in activities that promote physical and emotional well-being, such as exercise, mindfulness, or spending time with loved ones.
- Use “I” Statements: Criticizing or putting blame on the other person only increases tension Instead be specific and say “I felt hurt when you use those words” instead of “You always behave like this”. Avoid Using “should, never, always, must” in your statement.
Managing anger requires a commitment & practice toward self-awareness & self-care. With time and effort, it is possible to develop effective strategies for managing anger in a healthy and constructive way.