How to get rid of anger to improve your life
If you learn about your anger and where it originated, you might find more effective ways to manage it.
In this article, we'll discuss strategies you can implement to get rid of anger and improve your quality of life.
Is your anger a problem?
Anger is a normal emotion that everyone experiences at times. You might feel angry at a person driving a car who cut you off on the road, a boss who overlooked you for a promotion, or a partner who cheated on you. These are often valid reasons to be angry. However, some people experience extreme anger that affects their relationships and overall well-being. If you experience anger that seems excessive or that seems out of your control, it could be a sign of something more serious.
How to know when anger is a problem
Some people experience frequent outbursts of anger due to a condition called intermittent explosive disorder. According to the Cleveland Clinic, researchers believe that intermittent explosive disorder affects approximately 1.4% to 7% of the population. They may experience explosive outbursts that:
- Occur quickly and unexpectedly after a provocation
- Lead to problems with others at home, school, or work
- Cause significant distress
These outbursts can result in verbal or physical altercations. They can also manifest as road rage, domestic violence, or acts of property damage.
Even if you don’t experience intermittent explosive disorder, you may benefit from recognizing signs of problematic anger. The following are just a few:
- Having difficulty calming yourself when you feel anger
- Getting frustrated with yourself during or after an argument
- Breaking objects or punching something during an argument
- Accusing others of doing things behind your back (even when they're not)
- Becoming violent or short-tempered in response to minor issues
If you're experiencing any of these symptoms, you may benefit from speaking with a counselor who has experience helping people overcome their anger.
Get rid of anger the healthy way
The following are some strategies you can try to get rid of anger and improve your overall well-being. If they don’t work at first, it may help to try them multiple times or seek help from a counselor to address your anger.
Find an activity to channel your energy and emotion
For some people, physical activity, such as sports and other activities, can help them experience lower levels of anger. Some people need a contact activity to vent anger. They may find an outlet in sports like kickboxing or wrestling. On the other hand, some people prefer a creative activity, such as singing, dancing, drawing, or other forms of art to help them process their thoughts and feelings.
Discover where your anger originated
If you already know that you're experiencing anger in an unhealthy way, it may help you address the root cause of your anger. This may require some internal work, and a mental health professional may serve as a valuable resource during this process.
As you explore your anger, you might ask yourself what situations tend to trigger it. Is it related to a certain person or relationship? Does it usually happen at a specific time of day? Again, a qualified therapist may be able to help you think through these questions, but you can also journal or talk to a trusted friend. If you figure out what's causing your anger, you can take steps to address it and try to avoid triggers.
Learn to delay your reactions
For many, it can help to stop anger before it spirals out of control. Calming down when you're feeling angry can be extremely difficult. Sometimes, catching yourself in the beginning of an anger attack can make a significant difference.
First, you might try to recognize physical signs that you are getting angry, such as a faster heart rate or heavier breathing. These may help you to catch yourself right before an outburst. If you take a moment to think or breathe before you act, you might create some space to respond more appropriately. Consider taking several deep breaths or leaving the room if possible.
That pause may allow you to think before you react out of instinct. It can give you a moment to process what was said or done and what was meant as well. Maybe your partner said one thing, but since you know them, you know they meant something else or didn't mean to speak so harshly. If you take a moment to breathe, you may find that you can respond more appropriately. You can calmly ask them what they meant, or you can express how you felt in response to their words, tone, or body language.
Learn to communicate
When you're angry, you might not want to explore how you’re feeling. Instead, you may want to stop something from happening or let someone know that their behavior is unacceptable. However, communicating clearly and effectively may be the best way to make that happen.
Letting the other person know what you interpreted, and how you felt based upon that perception may allow them to change things. Maybe they didn't realize the effect of their actions. Or maybe they did, and you'll need to set some boundaries. Either way, it may help to practice communicating your feelings once you’re in a mental space to do so calmly.
It may help to calmly describe what happened and say, "When you did that, I felt angry." At this point, you can't control how they respond, but you might be surprised. They may respond in a positive way that leads to less conflict in the future.
Talk to a counselor about anger
If you’re experiencing problematic anger, you may benefit from connecting with a licensed mental health professional. A therapist may be able to help you explore the root causes of your anger and learn to manage it skillfully. Even if you don't have an anger disorder, you may still benefit from learning healthy ways to manage and express anger. If you don’t feel comfortable with in-office therapy, you might consider trying online therapy.
There is an increasingly large body of research pointing to online therapy as a useful means of managing difficult emotions, such as those associated with anger. A study published in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, examined the effectiveness of online therapy in helping those with problematic anger. Researchers found that online counseling significantly decreased anger levels. These findings are in line with similar current research showing that online therapy can be a valuable tool when managing complicated emotions arising out of various mental health conditions.
With online counseling through BetterHelp, you can connect with a licensed counselor from anywhere around the country. Instead of commuting to an appointment across town, you can participate in therapy from the comfort of your own home or wherever you happen to be, as long as you have an internet connection. Online therapy also tends to be more affordable than in-person therapy without insurance.
Below are some reviews of BetterHelp counselors from people who have experienced similar concerns.
"Steve is amazing and does a good job at making this seem like less of a counseling session and more of a conversation between friends. He helped me talk through my anger issues and road rage and gave me lots of problem-solving tools. I highly recommend him!"
"Since I started with BetterHelp and Leslie, she's been able to help me understand the problems I've faced and how to manage my anger and problems."
How do you manage your anger?
Even if you don't have an anger disorder, you may still benefit from expressing and managing anger and frustration in a productive way. Though controlling anger can feel challenging, there are various strategies you can try to address anger problems and improve overall well-being.
- Channel your energy into an activity you enjoy. For example, a physical activity or creative activity.
- Identify the source of your anger. You might ask yourself what situations tend to trigger your emotions.
- Delay your reactions before they spiral out of control. Take a moment to calm down before responding to a situation.
- Communicate clearly and effectively. Let the other person know what you interpreted, and how you felt.
- Speak to a mental health professional. A therapist can help you explore the root causes of your anger and learn to manage it skillfully.
How do you overcome anger and irritability?
Though it can feel difficult in the moment, putting anger and irritability aside in favor of emotional regulation can help you move forward and improve mental wellbeing. You can begin to move forward by:
- Recognizing how forgiveness can improve your daily life.
- Identifying the source of your anger and resentment.
- Speaking with a therapist or joining an anger support group.
- Acknowledging your emotions and accepting how they have negatively affected you.
- Accepting that you cannot control every situation in your life.
How do you deal with long term anger?
Chronic anger is defined by persistent feelings, conduct, and thoughts dominated by anger. Uncontrolled anger can negatively affect physical and mental health.
If you’re experiencing difficulty with persistent angry thoughts or behaviors, a therapist may be able to help. Mental health professionals use many treatment approaches to help people overcome chronic anger, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), deep breathing and relaxation techniques, exposure therapy, and anger management training programs.
You can also take steps yourself to control anger, including:
- Identifying the root causes of your anger
- Getting enough sleep
- Exercising regularly
- Avoiding drugs and alcohol
- Finding healthy outlets for your emotions
How do you express anger in a healthy way?
Anger can be a productive and healthy emotion to experience. According to experts, there are several healthy ways to express anger.
- Focus on relaxing instead of externalizing your anger through venting (yelling, screaming, or physically acting out).
- Take a time out from the situation making you angry to calm yourself down before responding. Quiet time can provide space and clarity.
- Take a deep breath, concentrate on mediation, or try other breathing exercises to reduce stress.
- Keep an anger log of your emotions to better understand your triggers and reactions to certain people or situations.
- Practice assertive communication to share your feelings and ask others about their feelings.
- Join an anger management program or consult with a mental health professional to learn coping skills, set goals, and change negative thought patterns.
How can emotions affect your behavior?
Emotions can prompt a physical response in your body and impact your behavior. For example, if you are in conversation with someone and they say something that causes you to feel angry, you may feel your blood pressure rise or you may begin to sweat as your body responds to that external stressor. In this situation, you may behave in various ways, ranging from taking a break from the conversation to escalating aggressive behaviors like breaking items or yelling at the other person.
How can I control my emotions and feelings?
If you've been in the habit of allowing your feelings to control your life, you may experience regret, sadness, or relationship conflict. There are a few ways you can start taking control of your behavior in response to your feelings. A few possible solutions include:
- Take some time to consider your feelings. Consider multiple viewpoints and give yourself space to process how you feel.
- Learn to recognize and appropriately label your emotions. This may help you better understand patterns and release tension.
- Change negative thought patterns. Restructuring your thoughts can help take control away from your emotions.
- Speak with a mental health professional. Working with a licensed therapist may help you identify emotions and/or manage thoughts and behaviors.
How do you deal with emotional dysregulation?
Emotional dysregulation is characterized by an inability to control emotional responses. It is common in childhood and typically resolves itself as children learn to process and manage their emotions as they grow into adulthood. However, some people do not learn to regulate their emotions, which can lead to long-term struggles at school, at work, and in personal relationships.
The two primary treatments for dysregulation are medication and therapy. Medication is typically used if the dysregulation is a symptom of a mental disorder, such as depression or ADHD. The main therapeutic treatment is dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), which involves engaging in healthy habits and validating emotions.
Why is it important to manage your emotions?
Moderate to severe emotional dysregulation can have negative impacts on friendships and relationships, educational pursuits, and career development. In the most severe circumstances, emotional dysregulation can cause people to behave aggressively or violently because they are unable to control their emotional responses.
How can I help my child manage their emotions?
There are various ways you can help your children learn emotional regulation skills. One of the most effective strategies is practicing difficult situations with your children. For example, if your child tends to get upset or throw tantrums in a department store while you shop, you can make a short trip to the store when you’re not in a rush. Once there, you can take the time to have your child practice walking around with you and keeping their hands to themselves.
Additionally, you can practice patience and positive feedback. When your child acts out, you can calmly and non-judgmentally explain what went wrong, why, and how they can react differently the next time.
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