Anger isn't always bad, but it must be handled appropriately. Consider the purpose anger serves and the best approach to anger management
Anger itself isn't a problem — it's how you handle it. Consider the nature of anger, as well as how to manage anger and what to do when you're confronted by someone whose anger is out of control.
What is anger?
Anger is a natural response to perceived threats. It causes your body to release adrenaline, your muscles to tighten, and your heart rate and blood pressure to increase. Your senses might feel more acute and your face and hands flushed.
However, anger becomes a problem only when you don't manage it in a healthy way.
So it's not 'bad' to feel angry?
Being angry isn't always a bad thing. Being angry can help you share your concerns. It can prevent others from walking all over you. It can motivate you to do something positive. The key is managing your anger in a healthy way.
What causes people to get angry?
There are many common triggers for anger, such as losing your patience, feeling as if your opinion or efforts aren't appreciated, and injustice. Other causes of anger include memories of traumatic or enraging events and worrying about personal problems.
You also have unique anger triggers, based on what you were taught to expect from yourself, others and the world around you. Your personal history feeds your reactions to anger, too. For example, if you weren't taught how to express anger appropriately, your frustrations might simmer and make you miserable, or build up until you explode in an angry outburst.
Inherited tendencies, brain chemistry or underlying medical conditions also play a role in your tendency toward angry outburst.
What's the best way to handle anger?
When you're angry, you can deal with your feelings through:
Expression. This is the act of conveying your anger. Expression ranges from a reasonable, rational discussion to a violent outburst.
Suppression. This is an attempt to hold in your anger and possibly convert it into more constructive behaviour. Suppressing anger, however, can cause you to turn your anger inward on yourself or express your anger through passive-aggressive behaviour.
Calming down. This is when you control your outward behaviour and your internal responses by calming yourself and letting your feelings subside.
Ideally, you'll choose constructive expression — stating your concerns and needs clearly and directly, without hurting others or trying to control them.
Can anger harm your health?
Some research suggests that inappropriately expressing anger — such as keeping anger pent up — can be harmful to your health. Suppressing anger appears to make chronic pain worse, while expressing anger reduces pain.
There's also evidence that anger and hostility is linked with heart disease, high blood pressure, peptic ulcers and stroke.
Ready to get your anger under control? Start by considering these 10 anger management tips
Do you fume when someone makes a mistake? Does your blood pressure rocket when a plate is returned to the kitchen? Anger is a normal and even healthy emotion — but it's important to deal with it in a positive way. Uncontrolled anger can take a toll on both your health and your relationships.
1. Think before you speak
In the heat of the moment, it's easy to say something you'll later regret. Take a few moments to collect your thoughts before saying anything — and allow others involved in the situation to do the same.
2. Once you're calm, express your anger
As soon as you're thinking clearly, express your frustration in an assertive but non-confrontational way. State your concerns and needs clearly and directly, without hurting others or trying to control them.
3. Get some exercise
Physical activity can help reduce stress that can cause you to become angry. If you feel your anger escalating, go for a brisk walk or run, or spend some time doing other enjoyable physical activities.
4. Take a timeout
Timeouts aren't just for kids. Give yourself short breaks during times of the day that tend to be stressful. A few moments of quiet time might help you feel better prepared to handle what's ahead without getting irritated or angry.
5. Identify possible solutions
Instead of focusing on what made you mad, work on resolving the issue at hand. Does your child's messy room drive you crazy? Close the door. Is your partner late for dinner every night? Schedule meals later in the evening — or agree to eat on your own a few times a week. Remind yourself that anger won't fix anything and might only make it worse.
6. Stick with 'I' statements
To avoid criticising or placing blame — which might only increase tension — use "I" statements to describe the problem. Be respectful and specific. For example, say, "I'm upset that you left the table without offering to help with the dishes" instead of "You never do any housework."
7. Don't hold a grudge
Forgiveness is a powerful tool. If you allow anger and other negative feelings to crowd out positive feelings, you might find yourself swallowed up by your own bitterness or sense of injustice. But if you can forgive someone who angered you, you might both learn from the situation and strengthen your relationship.
8. Use humour to release tension
Lightening up can help diffuse tension. Use humour to help you face what's making you angry and, possibly, any unrealistic expectations you have for how things should go. Avoid sarcasm, though — it can hurt feelings and make things worse.
9. Practice relaxation skills
When your temper flares, put relaxation skills to work. Practice deep-breathing exercises, imagine a relaxing scene, or repeat a calming word or phrase, such as "Take it easy." You might also listen to music, write in a journal or do a few yoga poses — whatever it takes to encourage relaxation.
10. Know when to seek help
Learning to control anger is a challenge for everyone at times. Seek help for anger issues if your anger seems out of control, causes you to do things you regret, hurts those around you or is taking a toll on your personal relationships.