Your alarm clock blares and you immediately feel your hackles rise. The noise is grating, your body is dragging itself awake, and you feel angry. No matter how much coffee you pour, or how many songs you play, you just seem to keep feeling anger.
While anger can feel uncomfortable, it can be overcome. Engaging in healthier habits, receiving help from professionals such as therapists and physicians, and actively working to improve your mental state can all go a long way in making sure that anger is not the primary emotion you feel upon waking, but is instead relegated back to its rightful place on the spectrum of your emotions, rather than the driving force behind your day.
Waking Up Angry
Waking up angry usually involves several factors, including your thought patterns, mental state, physical health, and lifestyle choices. Making changes to some of these areas - or even all of these areas - can help mitigate some of the anger you feel upon waking.
While anger has a reputation as being a spur-of-the-moment, large, and uncontrollable emotion, anger can also function as a low hum, almost like a background emotion, that can negatively color your entire day.
How To Manage Anger
Far from being something that you should repress or ignore, anger is something that is best managed actively.
Interventions vary but often include a combination of therapy, physical health interventions, lifestyle changes, and relaxation techniques.
One of the most important ways to reduce anger is to identify why you are angry, and whether there are any patterns or circumstances preceding your anger. Even when anger seems constant, some people find that journaling reveals a catalyst for prolonged bouts of anger, or they can identify something that triggers or worsens existing anger. Journaling can help you get to know yourself and your thought processes just a little bit better in order to more thoroughly understand how your anger begins, swells, and progresses.
Journaling can be done in the morning, at night, or at both times. You can use your evening journaling routine to detail the events of your day, any outbursts of anger you might have had, and any additional feelings that came along with your anger. Morning journaling can be used to identify exactly how you feel, what seems to prompt the anger you wake up with, and whether there is anything that can lessen your feelings. It can also help mitigate the intensity of your feelings when waking up angry.
Meditation can take on many different forms. It can mean sitting on a cushion, clearing your mind, and focusing on your breath. It can also mean walking in nature, taking time to tune in to your own inner voice and ideas, or even practicing yoga, tai chi, or another form of physical movement. Regardless of the way it is delivered, meditation is an important part of maintaining physical, emotional, and mental health.
Physical Health Intervention
For some, anger is a direct result of physical ailments. Chronic pain, unexplained health issues, and perpetual discomfort or fear can all play a huge role in prompting anger. If you have any physical ailments or sources of pain, take care of yourself by visiting a doctor and seeking answers and treatment.
You may also change your exercise schedule. Exercise has many benefits, and it can even improve your mood. Try different forms of exercise to find one that works best for you. Some people swear by running, others prefer yoga, and some people find that their strength, confidence, and mood rises with weightlifting. Whatever you decide, just ensure it’s an activity that you enjoy.
Create Sleep Routines
Sleep deprivation can be a common reason for unexplained anger and waking up angry. Creating rituals and routines around bedtime can be helpful in encouraging deep, restful sleep. These may also help you avoid waking up at 4 am or other unusual times in the middle of the night. Although the exact routine you choose is not important, some strategies include not using electronics (specifically screened electronics) before bed, and giving yourself time to wind down before sleeping.
Get Out Of Bed Quickly
It is often tempting to linger just a bit longer in bed - but this can actually set you back each morning. Getting out of bed as soon as you wake up tells your body and brain that it is time to wake up, while lingering in bed and hitting snooze can signal to your brain that it is time to sleep, which can make you feel groggy, drowsy, and out of sorts. Getting up immediately will help your body and brain catch up with being awake and potentially ward off feelings of anger.
Eat A Filling, Healthy Breakfast
For some, waking up angry is a result of blood sugar drops or spikes after during sleep. This can be easily remedied by eating a filling, healthy breakfast. Skipping breakfast altogether can perpetuate the cycle of blood sugar dips and spikes, as can grabbing the closest sugary, nutrient-light object you can find. Instead, opt for breakfast with plenty of protein, fiber, and nutrients.
Care For Your Mental State
Waking up angry can be a symptom of other mental health conditions. Personality disorders, depression, and anxiety can all carry anger as a symptom, and psychotherapy has proven effective for each of these conditions. Therapy can be customized to fit your exact needs and can be as long or as brief as you'd like; it is up to you to take control of your mental health, and mental health providers offer personalized services according to your goals.
Make A List
Creating a to-do list (or even a "what to expect" list) can help settle your emotions when waking up angry, as it can take the surprises out of your day. Knowing ahead of time what needs to be done can give you the ability to look forward to the day ahead of you. If you don't have anything in particular to do, you can make a list of what you'd like to do or where you'd like to go.
Making a list of things you are grateful for, too, can prove to be a helpful exercise as gratitude journaling has been shown to reduce depression and maintain mental health.
Create A Morning Routine
Just as it helps to create a night routine, you may benefit from creating a morning routine. This can include making yourself coffee or tea, taking time to journal, and having plenty of time to relax and meditate. While you should focus on incorporating activities that you enjoy, checking your phone is one thing to avoid first thing in the morning. Doing so can force your body into a state of alertness and potentially overwhelm you or contribute to angry feelings.
Anger can be an uncomfortable feeling that many of us would rather live without. While it’s completely natural to feel angry from time to time, there are also techniques that can help reduce anger. In particular, studies have shown that psychotherapy is an effective method of treating anger. Research also suggests that roughly 75% of people receiving anger management therapy improved as a result.
BetterHelp is an online therapy resource that partners therapists with clients in need of some mental help. While traditional therapists meet clients in an office, getting out of the house and to a therapy office or clinic can be difficult when you're feeling angry, especially if you have to sit in traffic to get to your appointment. This is where online therapy comes in. BetterHelp's network of licensed counselors can assist you from the comfort of your own home (or wherever you have an internet connection).
And online therapy has been proven to be just as effective as in-person therapy in the majority of mood-related mental health conditions.
In addition to creating a more pleasing nighttime and morning routine, you can reduce feelings of anger and improve your mood with psychotherapy. BetterHelp can help connect you with a therapist to work through your feelings and identify effective coping strategies.
Frequently Asked Questions
For examples of questions that might be beneficial to explore in therapy, please see below.
Why do I wake up sad or angry?
Why do I wake up extremely angry?
Is anger a symptom of PTSD?
How can I wake up happy?
Why is it hard to get out of a bad mood?
How do you lift yourself out of a bad mood?
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