Everyone experiences frustrations and irritations. Anger is a normal, healthy emotion that signals something is wrong. Expressed effectively, it can encourage people to listen to your concerns. But if you find yourself fuming over little inconveniences or raging over minor injustices, you may need to learn anger management skills, especially if your outbursts are affecting your relationships.
Understanding Your Anger
When you get angry, your entire body is engaged in the process. Being angry can cause muscle tension, an increased heart rate, a rise in blood pressure and a rush of adrenaline. Additionally, you may experience thoughts like "this always happens to me," and "life is so unfair." Typically, there are a lot of underlying feelings behind explosive anger. For instance, you may feel disappointed, hurt, unheard or disrespected. Your feelings are valid, but exploding in anger is not. The key is learning to express your feelings effectively. There is some evidence that expressing anger ineffectively also can impact your health. Regardless of whether you have regular outbursts or keep everything bottled up inside, anger can impact your overall health. As a result, you may have headaches, sleep issues, digestive problems and high blood pressure.
Expressing Your Anger
Being assertive and communicating your angry feelings is the healthiest way to express anger. This means you make your needs clear without being demanding, controlling or pushy. But don't stay silent. Keeping your angry feelings to yourself also is unhealthy. Unexpressed anger can create a cynical and hostile demeanor. In fact, if you regularly criticize others or make snide remarks, you have not learned to express anger in a healthy way.
Managing Your Anger
Knowing how to recognize and express your anger in appropriate ways will positively impact your relationships. It also will help you handle difficult situations and solve problems. Following are some tips for getting your anger under control: • Learn what triggers your anger and recognize the signs that you're becoming angry. • Practice de-stressing by visualizing something relaxing, breathing deeply, or repeating a calming phrase like "slow down," "it's OK," "take it easy," or "relax." • Take a time out and go for a walk. Physical activity can be a positive outlet for your emotions. Writing or listening to music also can be calming. • Count to ten before saying anything or get some space until your anger subsides. • Think carefully before saying anything and use "I" statements when describing the problem. Say something like "I'm upset you didn't help me clean up after dinner," rather than "You should have cleaned up the dinner dishes!" • Be careful of words like "always" and "never." These words make statements inaccurate and offend others. They also lead you to feel justified in being angry because they communicate that there is no way to solve the problem. • Remember, if a particular person makes you angry, you cannot change that person. But you can learn to control your reactions. • Get professional help if your anger is out of control, causes you to hurt other people or you do things you regret. A counselor can work with you to change your thought processes and your behavior. • Making false promises to change is rooted in denying the problem and not getting help. Finally, remember that anger is a normal emotion. There will be things in life that cause you pain and frustration and it is OK to feel angry. The key is to manage your response.