Why Controlling Your Anger is Important
Although there are moments in life that may test your steeliest resolve and seem to render you helpless against internal frustration, finding ways to keep angry outbursts under control is crucial to living a well-balanced life. The key to successful anger management is to quickly and accurately identify the root cause of your anger so that you can find an appropriate and effective solution to manage it.
While it’s true that venting your anger can be cathartic, setting boundaries for just how far your rant will go can make all the difference between your angry feelings being purged satisfactorily or your rage being escalated further. Anger is an adopted behavior that takes on many forms including verbal, physical, and emotional outbursts. It can have extremely stressful effects on your life as well as the lives of those around you. Some effects of anger include:
- Marital and family problems
- Poor work performance
- Feeling negative and uneasy
- Lack of energy
- Restless sleep
- Lack of appetite or too much of an appetite
- Tendency to gossip
- The possibility of losing family and friends
- Numerous health problems such as ulcers, strokes, weight loss or weight gain, heart attacks, and gastrointestinal disorders
Causes of Anger
The best way to start identifying the root causes of your anger is to recognize your most common stress triggers. Once you know the cause of your anger, you can better gain control of it. It may be surprising to hear, but self-knowledge and acceptance are often the hardest parts of anger management for some people to reconcile. If you've spent years in a cycle of hostility, your stress level may be on such a constant high that you don’t realize what specific occurrences have a tendency to set your rage off. For everything that upsets you, your anxiety level increases, and before it can go down, something else makes you angry. This vicious cycle can be stopped by directly confronting and diffusing the origin of your anger.
There are many factors to take into account when looking for the origins of your anger, including, for example:
- Harassment or bullying by friends, family, co-workers, or strangers
- Hurt from a failed relationship or job loss
- Physical threats from strangers, acquaintances, or close friends
- Disappointment from failing to complete a task
- Frustration at others around you, whether it be at home or in the workplace
- Annoyance due to environmental stressors
Simple Ways to Control Anger
Controlling your anger can be done in several ways. If one approach doesn't work, there are always other anger management techniques you can try. Keep in mind, however, that you must give your actions enough time to take full effect. The goal is to not give up until you find the solution that works best for you.
A very effective way to control hostility or anger is through a combination of muscle relaxation and controlled deep breathing. Your heart and breathing rates increase when you are angry or anxious, therefore, you can deliberately lower them, and consequently your anger, by practicing relaxation techniques. To achieve these lower heart and breathing rates you can:
- Perform yoga
- Receive a massage
- Listen to music
- Practice hypnosis
- Practice imagery or visualization
- Do tai chi
- Use guided programs, either through music, relaxation ponds, or relaxation clinics
- Simply find a way to spend quiet time relaxing at home or wherever you feel most comfortable
Another way to manage your anger is through humor. As the saying goes, “laughter is the best medicine”, and through the use of jokes or by simply laughing out loud, you can release a tremendous amount of stress without causing harm to yourself or others. Besides helping you get a balanced perspective on the situation that has caused your anger, you can also learn not to take yourself so seriously. Ways to incorporate humor into your life include:
- Watching or reading cartoons
- Telling jokes
- Writing humorous poems or jokes
- Visualizing the person you are mad at in a silly situation
When you feel your anxiety rise, write down exactly what you were doing and your feelings associated with it. Write down how you feel physically as well because the physical response to stress can happen before you feel it emotionally. After a few days, go back and read about what made you angry:
- On a fresh piece of paper, write down every anger episode, and then write down the reason why you became upset. Don't just think about the incident but what happened before it as well. Your reaction to an event often has a lot to do with what happened directly leading up to it.
- You also want to consider common anger themes. You may start to notice that when a certain person comes around you, you have a hard time dealing with situations. Reflect on these themes and consider their effect on your mood and emotions.
- Try to pinpoint the physiological responses you had to each episode. You may have felt your heart racing, sweating, or your face turning red. Knowing your physical responses to anger will help you anticipate the oncoming rage and then take action to control it.
More ways to manage your anger include:
- Listening to music
- Taking a relaxing bath
- Talking to a friend
- Understanding no one is perfect
- Drinking a tall glass of water
If All Else Fails
If taking the proper steps to handle your anger doesn't work and you feel that you really are out of control, then you need to seek counseling. A professional can use different types of therapy and medication to help you manage your anger.
Tools to Manage Anger
For some information on ways to control anger, check out these LoveToKnow Stress Management articles:
- Anger Management Worksheets
- Anger Management Tips
- Ten Tips for Anger Management
- Anger Management Seminars
- Anger Management Techniques