You’ve already been told “anger is not bad in itself—it’s how we handle our anger that makes the difference.” It’s apparently a stepping stone on the way to the dark side of the force and/or the dark powers to summon the elder gods, too. An unpleasant emotion, anger triggers the release of adrenaline, increases heart rate, and causes sweating, blushing, and sometimes “the crazy eyes.” But while unwholesome, the emotion or feeling of anger keeps our needs met, our boundaries uncrossed, and our interests protected.
People who cannot summon or use anger judiciously are destined to become doormats, inmates, or just plain miserable people. So this article really isn’t about how to get rid of anger, but how to manage anger in a healthy manner.
Do I Need Anger Management?
Anger will get the best of you from time to time—that’s just being human. But if you’re often suffering regret after mindlessly running your mouth, if your temper is harming your relationships and the people around you, then you’re a great candidate for anger management. Of course, if anger has ever led to violence or arrest, well, then you should certainly seek treatment. Your local hospital or department of health are great places to find out what is available in your area. They’ll be able to hook you up with a solid doctor too.
Express Your Anger
Express, don’t repress. Many people repress anger. This can lead to massive eruptions of anger and rage, or prolonged periods of seething, stewing misery. When you feel yourself getting angry, regain your composure before addressing the person you’re angry with. Be honest and assertive, not aggressive. Working to resolve issues while one or both parties is intoxicated with rage will only make things worse.
Focus on Solutions
Focus on solutions, not problems. For many people, anger is an emotion subject to the snowball effect: once it’s set in motion, the momentum becomes dangerous. But focusing on solutions requires some self awareness. Is traffic setting you off? Avoid rush hour. A coworker raising your blood pressure? Find a way to address the problem without inspiring resentment.
Take a Timeout
Grant yourself a timeout. Time. It works for children and adults alike. Counting to ten, repeating a positive mantra (e.g., “I am calm”), sleeping on it, walking away—take as much time as you need to regain your composure and face the problem or person with your reason uncompromised by anger.
Practice relaxation techniques, attain catharsis. It’s important to pursue some kind of stress reducing, relaxing activity on a regular basis. Tend your garden, take a spin on the bicycle, practice yoga or tai chi, paint, journal—the activity doesn’t really matter as long as you’re recharging and deescalating from the tension and stress of your life. You can also try a stress reduction workbook, like the one by Martha Davis, Elizabeth Eshelman, and Matthew McKay, sold on Amazon to help you pinpoint issues that arise.
Take Anger Management Classes
Seek out anger management therapy or classes. Given the appropriate amount of time (8‒10 sessions), professional anger management is highly effective. Whether you pursue therapy or a class, you’ll learn about what anger is, how to identify your own anger triggers, as well as healthy ways to deal with and express that anger. And in a therapy setting you may find that your emotional state has real roots that must be addressed.
Natural Anger Management Tips
Much more than just blowing off steam, exercise is one of the best known and most effective ways to get rid of anger. Vigorous physical activity triggers the release of mood-enhancing endorphins into the blood stream. How much exercise is enough? That will depend on what kind of shape you’re in, but most experts recommend 30‒40 minutes of any activity that raises your heart rate. Amazon has quite a few beginners exercise videos that you can get, most of them free with a Prime Membership.
Getting proper sleep, eating right, avoiding booze binges—this kind of healthy living is always prescribed to help individuals attain emotional stability.
Don’t become some grudge-holding curmudgeon. The act of forgiving has been shown to lower blood pressure and reduce stress, as well as ease muscle tension.
As I stated earlier, expressing your anger—when done calmly—is a good thing. Using “I” statements (“I felt abandoned and frustrated”) rather than “you” statements (“You should have picked me up on time, @$#hole”). It’s also important to listen and at least try to see the conflict from the other party’s point of view; empathy is its own kind of anger suppressant.
Is Anger Bad for My Health?
If you end up attacking someone large and hotheaded, your health will go into immediate decline. But anger can affect your health in subtler ways. Pent up, persistent anger can lead to sleep loss, difficulty concentrating, and high blood pressure. Other consequences of anger can be hard to measure. How much is your anger problem isolating you? Is it causing depression? Has it brought about any bad habits? Luckily, even very entrenched anger problems can be corrected with therapy.