Anger is, for most parts, a natural and healthy emotion. It is a common response that people have when they encounter a frustrating or threatening situation. In some cases, anger can also be a form of response to feelings of loneliness, fear, or deep sadness.

Problems arise, however, when anger gets in the way of a person’s rational thinking, decision making and cultivating healthy relationships with others. In 2015, a study revealed that 7.8% of people in the US especially adult males, are struggling with feelings or inappropriate or hard to control anger. This is why anger management has become such a buzz nowadays. 

Learning how to control anger is not easy, especially if you have experienced severe anger episodes, but it is the only thing you can do, in order to limit the emotional damage of such episodes. But what exactly triggers such intense feelings of anger, and what can you do to control it?

Why do people feel angry?

A person can feel anger building up for several reasons, and you do need to keep in mind that everyone experiences anger on their own level. For some, it may have strong manifestations, while others may be more reserved and keep their feelings hidden.

Psychologists are constantly trying to explain why people experience those angry outbursts, but as it results, the reasons can be many. Some people get angry when they feel deceived, frustrated, threatened, or treated with disrespect, which has a perfectly normal explanation.  

However, if not controlled, anger can affect you both emotionally and physically. Increased heart rate, a feeling of tightness in the chest, grinding your teeth, or trembling are just a few physical signs of anger. On the emotional side, anger can make you feel anxious, deeply sad, humiliated and guilty. People struggling with anger management issues can also start becoming more sarcastic, or start yelling or crying for the smallest reason. Sometimes, they can also turn to substance abuse to try and ease off the feeling. 

Can you really manage anger?

The short answer is yes. Anger can be managed, and there are many people that learned how to do so, in order to stop hurting both themselves and those around them. 

Anger is often referred to as a negative emotion, but it does not necessarily have to be that way. If you learn how to control your anger, it can become a powerful tool that empowers change, helps you stand up for what you believe in, or push your limits. 

In order to successfully manage anger, experts advise to follow three basic rules:

  1. Learn how to identify triggers and early signs of anger

  2. Distance yourself from what causes anger and give yourself time to process everything

  3. Identify and apply anger management techniques that work best for you

Learning how to recognize triggers

Sometimes, it takes only a few seconds from the moment you start to feel anger, up until the moment you start reacting upon it. This is why, in the spur of the moment, it can be hard to pinpoint and control what makes you angry. However, if you learn how to recognize those emotions from early on, you can give yourself enough time to retreat and defuse.

Anger can manifest itself through physical reactions, such as your heart beating faster, intensified and heavy breathing, feeling tension spreading through the body, sweating and clenching your jaw or fists. Some people start pacing or tapping, finding it hard to stay in one place. 

It is believed that there is a pattern that precedes every anger episode. You can start identifying the pattern yourself or work with an anger management counsellor to help you pinpoint what it is exactly that makes you angry. For some, anger management issues are rooted deep into childhood, while for others, it is only recently they started behaving that way. 

Identifying what triggers your anger will then help you recognize when it happens, and give yourself time to cool down, before doing or saying something in response. Sometimes, counting to ten, or going for a short walk can be enough to help you defuse and manage the situation in a more healthy manner.


Anger management techniques

To ensure that anger never gets out of control, you can try multiple anger management strategies, and decide on the one that works best for you. Amongst those techniques, the most popular are:

  • Deep breathing: as you start to feel anger building up, start taking deep breaths and focus on feeling each breath of air as it enters and exits your body. Inhale, then spend a bit more time on exhaling, concentrating on channeling the anger to live the body

  • Ease physical tension: anger often makes your body feel tense. One by one, start tensing each part of your body, hold it for 10 seconds, then relax it. This will help you become aware of the tension that accumulates in your muscles and release it.

  • Meditation: just like any other mindfulness techniques, meditation is recommended to people struggling with anger management. Meditation can help you shift your focus away from what triggered anger until you feel relaxed enough to approach the situation in a different manner. 

  • Start exercising: physical activity is one of the best ways to release tension and use up the adrenaline that builds up with anger. Some people start jogging, while others turn to combat sports as a way to eliminate aggressive feelings. 

  • Find a different outlet: if there are moments when you feel you need to let anger out, try finding other ways to channel it. Tear up some newspapers, crush some ice cubes, or punch a pillow. Anything that helps you let the anger out, without causing damage to yourself or others around you.

  • Distract yourself: find out something you like to do, such as dancing, drawing, cooking, or cleaning, and use it as a way to distance yourself from the issue and prevent it from escalating.

Published by Cynthia Madison