Do you suffer from frequent, uncontrollable outbursts of aggression, frustration and anger? Do you let such emotions build up inside you until you reach a breaking point when you just don’t know how to deal with them anymore?
Anger can threaten your relationships with others, your career, your happiness and your physical health. Research has shown that unresolved anger issues can lead to anxiety and depression, as well as a range of health issues including heart complications, high blood pressure, headaches and digestive problems.
Men are particularly prone to suppressing anger and having to deal with the unpleasant consequences. Studies indicate that men with chronic anger issues are six times more likely to suffer a heart attack by the time the reach 50.
Anger management involves the conscious effort to learn to recognise your feelings of aggression, identifying their causes and dealing with them in healthy ways. Doing so is a skill that you need to learn and work on through constant practice. We have a couple of suggestions to help you get started.
Timeouts aren’t just for children! Sometimes the best way to release building anger is to physically remove yourself from the situation that is causing it to give yourself the chance to calm down. Don’t just stomp off in a sulk, though. Tell the other person or people involved that you need a break to think things over and go for a walk in the park or ensconce yourself in a peaceful space to listen to some relaxing music
Take a deep breath
Often you can’t just walk away from the cause of your anger, but you can slow things down and take a moment to compose yourself. Take a few slow, deep breaths and feel the soothing effect as the air flows in and out of your chest. Quietly or in you mind repeat some calming words to yourself – “relax”, “take it easy” – until your anger subsides. You may want to practice other calming techniques like counting down from 100.
Take another look
In the middle of an argument that is threatening to drive you ballistic, get yourself to mentally step away from your own point of view and try to see the issue from the other person’s perspective. This may help you understand where they’re coming from, calm you down and assist you in finding an amicable solution to the infuriating problem. While you’re at it, take a good look at your own behaviour and learn to laugh at the funny situations you find yourself in at times.
Spit it out
All too often we leave the unpleasant business of dealing with the things that make us angry until they’ve built up to such epic levels that they can only end in a cataclysmic meltdown. Don’t let things get that far. Talk about your feelings before they reach unmanageable levels. Speak to your partner, a sympathetic family member or a trusted friend. You’ll find that talking openly about your frustrations will not only make you feel better, but will allow others who care about you to lend you their support and help you get over the issues involved. Facing your problems and talking about them is the first step towards resolving them.
Scientists have found evidence that suggests that exercise may help to mitigate an angry mood. Anger and aggression are associated with low levels of the body’s calming chemical serotonin, while exercise tends to raise the serotonin levels in the brain. Even if it simply acts to distract you, a brisk walk, a run, a swim, a cycle or a yoga session can take your mind of things, help you relax and release your anger harmlessly.
Harness your anger
Turn your anger into positive energy! When you feel the rage in you reaching crisis levels, go and chop some fire wood, paint the garage door or plant a tree in your garden. While you’re doing so, learn how to consciously put aside your angry emotions until you can deal with the situation more rationally. Realise that you may actually be at fault, try to forgive yourself and others and be prepared to reach compromise solutions.
Seek professional help
If none of these suggestions work for you, it’s probably time to seek professional help. Psychologists and other mental health care practitioners will be able to assist you in identifying the underlying reasons for your angry tempers, either in one-on-one sessions or in group meetings, and they’ll facilitate you in your efforts to explore appropriate anger management skills.
Some useful books about anger management:
• Letting Go of Anger -The Eleven Most Common Anger Styles & What to Do about Them by Ronald T. Potter-Efron and Patricia S. Potter-Efron
• Anger Management for Dummies by W. Doyle Gentry
• No More Anger! Be Your Own Anger Management Coach by Gladeana McMahon
• Anger Management for Everyone - Seven Proven Ways to Control Anger and Live a Happier Life by Raymond Chip Tafrate and Howard Kassinove
• The Surprising Purpose of Anger - Beyond Anger Management by Marshall B. Rosenberg
(Andrew Luyt, Health24, August 2011)