Although anger is a normal human emotion, it is often considered unhealthy and problematic, and is also known to have counterproductive results. The experience of anger is indicative of the dissatisfaction we feel for the existing circumstances, and our want for something to change. Prolonged or chronic anger is when we experience anger for long enough for it to become a part of our personality. This type of anger is also difficult to control and can be outside the purview of self-help. However, when the anger is not so intense, we can try to practice some techniques of self-control and relaxation to calm ourselves and not allow anger to have an adverse effect on our body and mind.
Anger can have the following manifestations in our body, mind and behavior:
- Physical: Increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, sweating, flushed face, tension in muscles and a clenched jaw. Some people also cry when they feel really angry
- Emotional/psychological: Feeling rejected, frustrated, hostile, alone, out of control
- Behavioral: Screaming and shouting, hitting or punching, slamming doors, flinging verbal abuses and heightened physical violence
Following are the initial few steps towards effective anger management:
- Acknowledging underlying feelings: It can be helpful to think about what is behind the anger we experience and to work at accepting that feeling. Anger can be a cover for other feelings. In order to express our anger more effectively we need to be able to get in touch with our inner feeling. There could be feelings of shame, hurt, rejection, or guilt behind the anger we experience.
- Acceptance: We could try to observe how the anger feels in our body and make note of all the things we are feeling. Noting this down can help with first bringing awareness and then acceptance of how we are feeling. Acceptance is a very important step in the process of healing.
- Identifying and eliminating triggers: It can be a helpful practice to familiarize ourselves with what can make us angry and try to eliminate the trigger over a period of time e.g. If we observe that we get angry when we meet a certain friend or when we are driving home in heavy traffic, we could then try to minimize the anger by limiting the number of times we meet this friend and by choosing different routes or other modes of transport during peak traffic hours.
- Exercise: Physical exercise can be a great way to release anger and lift the mood. Even a simple thirty minute fast paced walk can be of help in this.
- Meditation: Meditation can be a great method to help accept and channel our emotions more constructively.
- Deep breathing: Taking deep breaths in the midst of anger bouts can make an immediate difference to the intensity of the anger. Focusing on our breathing can help calm us down almost immediately, giving us a sense of control over our emotions.
It is important to understand the experience of anger and its underlying causes as it can help us have better control over this emotion. However, if the feeling of chronic anger does not abate, it becomes important to consider professional help and find out about some useful techniques in anger management. Consulting a mental health professional can help us learn to manage the anger better.
The free email and counseling services offered by Inspire can be of help in this process. The counselors at Inspire are experienced in managing the experience of anger and offer their support through the challenges of this process.