Anger management is a phrase that gets tossed around in everyday language, but it’s often misinterpreted. Managing your anger doesn’t imply that you won’t ever feel angry. Life is full of challenges, and sometimes it is healthy and normal to experience anger. What you do with that anger is important, so mature adults must learn the signs of anger and strategies to keep their reactions to situations positive and productive.
What triggers your anger response? Sometimes it can be an event or the simply memory of one. Your brain and body are built to become angry sometimes when you feel threatened. But a person can’t respond aggressively to everything that makes them angry. Aggression sometimes may be physical, but it can also manifest itself as grumpiness, irritability, or sarcasm. These negative responses can add up over time and weigh you down.
There are three major ways you can respond to anger: expressing your emotions, suppressing them, or calming them. There is no one right way, as each of these reactions can be appropriate in different situations. For example, rather than acting aggressively, a person can be assertive about their rights and values. Rather than stuffing emotions into a box, a person can redirect their thoughts towards seeking a positive solution to a problem. And finally, a person can practice calmness to reduce their overall reaction to stress and promote healthy living.
Signs of an Anger Problem
How do you know that your way of managing anger needs improvement. You might:
- Feel a lack of control of your emotions
- Feel depressed about your anger
- Engage in or think about physical violence
- Have frequent arguments with others
- Feel constantly impatient
- Find many people irritate you
If you struggle with anger, you also might experience physical symptoms, such as difficulty sleeping, heart problems, increased substance use, headaches, high blood pressure, and digestive issues.
There are countless benefits to learning how to manage your anger. Learning communication strategies and conflict resolutions skills can benefit your work life. You’ll foster positive relationships with friends and family members. Managing anger can also help you feel healthier, as you’ll possibly sleep better, lower your blood pressure, and maybe even live a longer life. Learning healthy responses can also lower your risk for poor mental health and protect you from symptoms depression, anxiety, and substance use problems. Let’s look at a few ways you can start learning to manage your anger today.
Access Resources – Chances are there are multiple resources available to you at work or in your community. If your workplace has an employee assistance provider, you can ask about free counseling sessions or educational classes that teach anger management. You can also find in-person or online support groups for anger management. If you are not sure where to find resources, talk to your doctor or check with your local library. You can also talk to a friend or colleague who has worked on their anger to talk about their experiences with resources in the community.
Pay Attention – Before you can change your reaction to anger, you have to spend some time observing it. Notice what triggers your anger. Is it work? Maybe rush hour or waiting in line at the grocery store sets you off. Perhaps it’s financial problems and looking at your bank balance. Next, notice the signs of your anger. Do your palms sweat? Does your heart race? Do you drive aggressively? Also, pay attention to your thoughts. Do you tend to switch on your worst-case-scenario thinking when you are angry? Before you can focus on the facts of a situation, you have to examine those irrational thoughts and challenge them.
Be Solution-Focused – There are many strategies that are focused on finding healthy, productive ways of managing your anger. Using relaxation techniques can help you practice being mindful in your responses. You can learn deep breathing to calm your body and focus your mind. Communicating your needs calmly and effectively can help you switch from aggressive responses to assertive ones.
If you feel like you don’t have the skills to be solution-focused, the first step is asking for help. For most people, simply reading about anger management and coaching yourself simply isn’t enough. Signing up for a class or asking a professional for help isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s a commitment to the promise that anger doesn’t have to steer your life in a direction you don’t want.
Anger is a reality of life, but you can manage it with the right work and a clear mindset. What steps can you take today to help manage your anger?