I remember this boy from my primary school days who had a major anger problem. Like, seriously, even the smallest thing would set him off, and it was super intense! There was no way to calm him down when he was in one of his moods. He’d go ballistic, flipping chairs and even hurting people physically. It was like he was seeing red, you know? Looking back, it seems pretty obvious that he was dealing with some deep-seated anger issues that required some serious help in order for him to manage and regulate his emotions.
What is anger?
Feeling angry is a completely normal part of the human experience, but it can be tough to navigate when it leads to explosive outbursts, fights, and aggression. The American Psychological Association (APA) explains that anger is accompanied by changes in our physiology and biology – our heart rate, blood pressure, energy, adrenaline, and hormones all spike when we’re angry. This can lead to health problems such as an increase in insomnia, headaches, heart attack and depression.
There are many triggers for anger, both external and internal. External factors might include someone speaking ill of you or waiting for a bus that never shows up. Internally, anger could be linked to traumatic memories or negative experiences.
While anger can sometimes be an important part of our survival instincts, it can also be a sign of underlying mental health issues like depression or anxiety. I spoke with a counsellor from Independent Counselling and Advisory Services (ICAS), a company that provides registered employees with guidance in finance and mental health. She emphasised the importance of seeking professional help to address any underlying issues that may be contributing to your anger.
So, while anger is a natural emotion, it’s essential to learn how to recognise it and manage it in healthy ways.
We’ve all been there – feeling like our anger is controlling us, and we can’t escape it. But anger management is all about taking control of your emotions and learning how to express them in healthy ways.
It’s important to note that managing your anger doesn’t mean you won’t ever get angry again. Anger is a natural emotion, after all. The key is to recognise your triggers and learn to express your feelings in a constructive way.
According to Healthline, there are plenty of ways to keep your anger under control:
- Go for a walk – Instead of reacting in the moment, step outside and let go of all the anger. It may take some time, but the exercise will reduce your nerves and calm you down.
- Think before you respond – In the heat of the moment, we can say things we don’t mean, so take a minute to think before you actually respond.
- Timeout – This can simply mean going into a different room to let off some steam if you’re feeling really agitated.
- Talk to someone – Talking to someone who is not involved in the situation may help so you can vent and talk freely about the situation. Working on developing greater self-awareness and emotional regulation to help with your anger is important. Kotie said that having a support structure and someone to lean on is crucial.
- Take your mind off – Find something to take your mind off what happened. That could be listening to music, painting or doing anything you really like. Eating healthy, exercising and doing hobbies will help better manage your anger. Kotie expressed that you do more things that calm you and brings you joy and happiness.
How can anger be used for good?
Anger is not always bad. It helps us to survive: When we have to defend ourselves, it can be a positive form of anger. Anger helps us to detect threats or when we are at risk – we get angry and that motivates us to act quickly. Anger makes us aware that someone wants to hurt us and can help us fight off someone who may be stronger than us.
Anger can also be a powerful motivator to take action and make positive changes. It can provide the necessary drive and energy to fight for social justice, stand up for yourself or others, and address situations that are unfair or unacceptable. For example, the activist Rachel Cargle has spoken about how anger can fuel a powerful and productive force for change. Rachel’s work shows that challenging one’s anger into meaningful action can inspire communities towards positive change.
When to seek help
Managing anger is an important part of maintaining healthy relationships and overall well-being. But what if your anger feels out of control? ‘Kotie suggests that a good first step is to validate your emotions. Ask yourself, “Why do I feel this way?” If you have a valid reason for feeling angry, it’s important to express those emotions in a constructive way. But if you find yourself lashing out without thinking, that may be a sign that you need some help managing your anger.
If your anger is getting in the way of your relationships, seeking professional help is a smart move. A therapist or counsellor can help you identify your triggers and develop healthy coping mechanisms.
Perhaps if the boy in my class had been given access and support in managing his anger, it would not have impacted his life or the way we saw him to such an extent.
Remember, anger is a normal emotion. But it’s important to think before you speak or act and respond in a way that doesn’t negatively impact others. By taking steps to manage your anger, you can build stronger relationships and a healthier outlook on life.
Tell us: “How can we use the power of our emotions, including anger, to inspire positive change in ourselves and the world around us?”
Read more here on a quarter-life crisis.