Managing anger is difficult for a fair size segment of the population. The Mental Health Foundation, in a recent survey, found that 28% of adults said they worry about how angry they sometimes feel, and 32% have a friend or relative who has problems dealing with anger. We all have to deal with anger, it’s a normal emotion and is within us all. It is how we manage our anger without letting it get out of control. All of us sometimes lose our temper but not over react or get violent. It is this aspect of anger which causes problems for many people.
In the same Mental Health Foundation survey it was identified that unresolved anger posed health issues in the following areas; high blood pressure, heart attack, depression, anxiety, colds, flu and problems with digestion. However some clinical psychologists believe that anger does not have to be a problem. They say that people have a responsibility to control their anger and should be able to do so. They spell out the good and bad by saying that it feels intimidating but is also energising.
How to deal with anger?
If you are angry your body is doing different things, it is reacting physically, and you must notice these changes. Be aware and then take steps to calm down. Your heart will increase its speed and beats faster and you will breathe more quickly. This is preparing you for action. Other signs will also be present, perhaps you will clench your fists or have tension in your shoulders. If you have a history of not being able to manage your anger then now is the time to leave this situation. Learn to count to ten. This very simple technique allows you time to calm down, letting you have clarity of thought giving you time to overcome the impulse to strike out. If you are angry then work hard to breathe out for longer than you breathe in, and then relax. This works because when we are angry we automatically breathe in more than out, and the trick is to breathe out more than in. If you can do this at a time of stress then this will calm you down. That allows you to think more clearly.
Managing anger in the long term
More general methods to control your anger in the long term are the next point to address after you can identify the signs of anger. Exercise is very good at reducing stress levels and just making you feel good. Any exercise that you enjoy is the answer here. It’s a part of a routing which gets rid of anger and irritations. Relaxation time is important. Make time for yourself and sleep regularly. Drugs or alcohol can make any issues you have with anger management worse. This is because they lower our inhibitions. But these inhibitions are what stop us from behaving unacceptably when we are angry. Any past-time that you enjoy can be beneficial to help reduce feelings of anger. If you like swimming, dancing, painting or singing then just do it. You might just like to talk it through with a friend. A different personality looking at your situation may enlighten you on something. A friend just listening can be enough.
How do you think?
Understand your thinking and address any issues with it. Avoid any unhelpful ways of thinking. Clinical psychologists say that thoughts like ‘People like that shouldn’t be on the roads’ or ‘It’s not fair’, can make anger worse. By avoiding these thoughts you will not remain focused on whatever it is that’s making you angry. Because you have excluded these thoughts it will be easier to calm down.
Again some clinical psychologists say that the following phrases are not helpful. If you say always as in ‘You always do that', or never as in 'You never listen to me'. Other examples are should or shouldn't when you say 'You should do what I want', or 'You shouldn't be on the roads'. The same happens with must or mustn't when you say 'I must be on time', or 'I mustn't be late' or ought or oughtn't when speaking of others, 'People ought to get out of my way'. The psychologists conclude by saying never to say ‘It’s not fair’.
Your local GP is a good place to start if you think that you need help dealing with your anger. Some clinics run local anger management courses or workshops, others have counselling that could help. Sometimes the only help available will be from private therapists.