Excessive, frequent anger can lead to serious complications, potentially including career challenges, mental and physical health concerns, and relationship conflicts. Anger is usually a secondary emotion that can occur when a potential threat is perceived. Several ways to manage it can include breathing exercises, yoga, journaling, affirmations, and mindfulness. Creating a morning routine that incorporates many of these elements can be an excellent way to keep anger in check as well. You may also wish to work with a licensed therapist in person or online to identify the root of your anger and address it effectively.
Why Do I Get So Angry?
For example, if you’re angry because someone cut you off in traffic, you may have first been scared for your safety. In another situation, you may get mad that a coworker made a mistake that could cause you to miss out on a bonus. In these scenarios, there may have been a perceived threat (to physical health or your livelihood) that evoked a primary emotion (fear or stress), which then led to anger.
Other people can experience mental health conditions that may lead to anger, such as depression, intermittent explosive disorder, or anxiety. Physical health concerns like illness, chronic pain, and lack of sleep can also lead to or exacerbate feelings of anger.
Some people experience problematic anger due to the example set by their caregivers. Being raised in a home in which excessive anger was a common reaction to challenges can cause an individual to react the same way as their caregiver would. Similarly, an adult’s interactions with family members, romantic partners, friends, and coworkers can affect their anger levels.
How To Manage Anger
As you start to recognize potential sources of anger in your life, you can develop a strategy for avoiding anger-inducing situations. While this can limit instances of anger, it can still be important to know how to manage your emotions when you become angry. The following strategies can promote calm, relaxation, and emotional wellness.
Research suggests that meditation can decrease anger levels, even in those who do not meditate regularly. Mindfulness is generally a form of meditation meant to help the individual be more present so that they become aware of their own thoughts and feelings, as well as their surroundings. This heightened level of awareness can help you identify thoughts and feelings that may lead to anger and address them.
To practice mindfulness, find a quiet place to sit or lie down. Start by breathing deeply and paying attention to your feelings. Are you happy? Bored? Energized? Bring your attention to your thoughts, letting them pass without judging them. Take note of your surroundings as well, including any sights, sounds, smells, or textures you experience.
You can practice mindfulness meditation almost anywhere, which can make it a versatile coping strategy for anger. Mindfulness can help you limit distractions, quiet your mind, and recognize potential sources of anger before they occur.
Soothing thoughts can help you alleviate anger. In a study of adults in the US, researchers found that those who practiced self-affirmation experienced increases in feelings of contentment and optimism, as well as decreases in anger and sadness.
When you’re feeling angry, reading or reciting affirmations may remind you of your ability to manage your emotions. Here are some examples of soothing thoughts:
"I can stay calm. Just breathe."
"Everything is going to be okay."
"I don't have to act on this anger."
"I'm in control. I can choose to be calm."
"This will pass in a moment."
"I'm only in control of how I react."
Journaling about situations that upset you, how you felt, and what you can do to find calm can help you get ahead of problematic anger. This strategy for managing anger is sometimes called “coping ahead.” Journaling can help you remain self-aware, and it may provide a healthy outlet for your emotions.
There can be many ways to journal. You might benefit from starting your day by writing down how you feel. If ruminative thoughts keep you awake, it may be better to journal before bed. If you can, try to carry a small notebook around and write down what happened in moments when you struggle to manage your anger. This can provide you with a record that you can reference, which may help you recognize specific situations that may be likely to provoke anger.
Research suggests that yoga can reduce feelings of anger. Not only can yoga be a form of physical activity, which is often a useful strategy for managing anger in itself, but it can also be used as a form of meditation. You don’t necessarily have to join a yoga studio or take in-person classes, either. Consider getting a yoga mat and researching some basic poses that involve stretching, strength, and balance.
The benefits of yoga can include learning to breathe, be still, and practice mindfulness, all of which can promote calmness and relaxation. Many poses are adaptable, allowing the participant to perform modified poses or even use a chair, so people of all ages and fitness levels can practice them.
A morning regimen can help you tend to your physical and mental health (cortisol levels, which can lead to stress, are typically high in the morning) and prepare for the day. If you have trouble getting ready in the morning, you may feel hurried and irritated before leaving home. Starting your morning on the right foot can have a significant impact on your mood throughout the rest of the day.
For your morning routine, consider journaling, spending time outside, reading affirmations, exercising, or listening to uplifting music. Your routine can also involve drinking a glass of water, having a cup of coffee, eating a healthy breakfast, turning off screens, and practicing meditation. By developing a regular routine, you can build healthy habits that may help prevent unwanted anger.
The next time you’re feeling angry, try to check in with your breath. Often, anger can cause us to experience shallow or rapid breathing. This can exacerbate anger, potentially causing us to become more tense and less able to control our emotions. Breathing exercises can help you control your body and relax. They may also allow you to focus on a physiological process instead of the challenges that are causing the anger.
One easy breathing exercise may be box breathing. To practice box breathing, you can inhale for a four-count, hold your breath for a four-count, exhale for a four-count, and hold your breath again for a four-count. It can be best to repeat this process three to four times.
A mental health professional can provide you with useful insights into potential sources of your anger and give you the tools to manage it on your own. A therapist may be able to identify triggers that you hadn’t considered. For example, they may help you realize that talking to certain family members often makes you feel stressed and angry. They can act as an outlet for you to express these emotions, which may help you process and cope with them. A therapist can also help you manage symptoms of mental health conditions that could lead to unhealthy expressions of anger.
Benefits Of Online Therapy
Online therapy may be available if you’re struggling to manage anger or experiencing similar mental health-related concerns. With an online therapy platform like BetterHelp, you can participate in therapy remotely through video call, voice call, or in-app messaging, which can help you avoid potentially anger-inducing situations like commuting to a therapist’s office or missing lunch to make an appointment. You may also be able to reach out to your therapist outside of sessions. If you notice a certain situation leads to increased anger, you can message your therapist about it, and they may respond when they’re able.
Effectiveness Of Online Therapy
Research suggests that online therapy can reduce unwanted feelings and behavior related to anger. In a study on the efficacy of online therapy for problematic anger, researchers found that treatment generally led to significant reductions in anger levels. Specifically, the study found that online therapy could help participants reduce aggression and ruminative thoughts while improving their ability to express anger in a healthy way.
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