Anger is an emotion that everyone experiences. While some might think it’s a negative emotion, anger is extremely powerful. When expressed correctly, it can promote necessary change in the environment, in others, and even in ourselves. Unfortunately, many times, people express anger in unhealthy ways. If you can lean how to manage anger in healthy ways, then it can become a helpful emotion rather than a negative one. Read on to learn about how to manage anger so that you can embrace, rather than fight, this very necessary emotion.
Redirect Your Anger With New Thoughts
Many times, people get caught up in their emotions and assume that the object of their anger has done something irritating or annoying on purpose. Other times, people might confuse other emotions such as worry or fright, with anger. For example, if your teenager comes in two hours late and hasn’t been answering texts, you might be livid when he or she makes it in. It’s probable that even more than anger, you’re experiencing a frantic worry. You’ve probably spent the last two hours worrying that something terrible has happened to your child. Once you see that they’re safe, anger might take hold because you are upset that he or she has made you stay up and worry rather than getting sleep.
Sometimes, taking a break and reframing your thoughts can help. If you can tell yourself that you’re grateful that your child made it home safely and that they did not intend to worry you, you might be able to temper your anger. Try to teach yourself to assume the best about other people’s intentions. Even if you are wrong and they did intend to annoy you, it can save you from the health consequences of carrying around so much anger.
When you feel rage boiling up inside of you, there might be no better remedy than to run off that extra energy. Or, if you don’t like running, try walking, swimming, bicycling, or any other cardio activity. Not only does exercise dissipate energy that might otherwise stimulate aggression, but it also gives you a chance to occupy your body while you use your mind to mull over what’s making you angry. Since most exercise is not mentally draining, you can overcome strong feelings by focusing on them while your body is busy.
If you find yourself getting angry, try going for a walk to cool off. That might be enough to burn off some of your adrenaline and make you feel calmer. Even better, find time to exercise each day. Exercise can lower anxiety levels and also improve depression, both of which can contribute to irritability and anger.
Try Breathing Exercises
You might have heard the advice to take a deep breath and count to ten when you’re feeling angry. While counting to ten might not be quite enough to dissipate anger, it’s a start in the right direction.
Try taking slow, deep breaths to manage anger. Focus on getting the air into your belly; taking shallow breaths that end in the chest won’t relax you.
While you’re at it, try some imagery: Close your eyes and imagine yourself in a peaceful place, such as sitting on a beach or in a grassy meadow. You can use imagery audio or video recordings to guide you. You can even go to YouTube and look for videos that feature rain or nature sounds if that will help.
Talk It Out
Sometimes, just talking to the person who is angering you can solve the problem. In some cases, the person who is annoying or irritating you has no idea that there is a problem. Other times, they might not know exactly why you’re upset. It can help to approach them during a time when emotions are not running high; if you are very angry, that’s usually not the best time to talk about the problem causing the anger.
Use “I” statements to convey how you are feeling without placing blame. For example, you could say, “I was upset when you came home late last night. I had a meeting this morning that I had to get up early for, and because I was worried about where you were, I didn’t get enough sleep.” This is preferable to saying, “You were late last night and it’s all your fault that I had a terrible meeting this morning!”
In addition, avoid using words like “always” or “never” (e.g. Don’t say, “You are always so inconsiderate and you never call when you will be late!”)
By learning how to express yourself in a way that won’t make the other person defensive, you can often solve problems without getting too angry.
Seek Help for Aggression
If you find that you’re unable to manage anger, or if you are experiencing aggressive behavior, it’s time to seek help. If this is a new problem, talk to your primary care physician. You might have a health condition that is causing you to feel angry. If not, then go to see a counselor. They can use cognitive behavioral therapy to walk you through how to reframe your thoughts, calm yourself down, and speak to others when you are in the midst of your anger.
In some cases, medication can help. If you have depression, anxiety, or some other mental health condition that is causing you to become unreasonably angry, for example, treating the underlying condition can help you get the anger under control. Even if you don’t have a condition like this, some antidepressant medications can have a calming effect that can restrain your anger while you learn how to manage it in therapy.
Anger can be scary when it’s intense, but it might make you feel better to know that everyone experiences it to some degree. Because anger can cause physical health problems as well as relationship problems, it’s important to learn how to manage anger in healthy ways.
We’ve provided and outline of how to manage anger using a handful of healthy strategies:
- Redirecting your thoughts
- Using breathing exercises
- Talking it out
- Seeking professional help
If you or your teenager are acting out aggressively or seem to be angry all of the time despite your efforts to manage anger, it might be time to seek professional help. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a doctor or therapist for assistance in managing this strong emotion.