Anger can be a healthy emotion, which most people experience when they feel: deceived, frustrated, attacked, invalidated or unfairly treated by others. Anger is not always a negative emotion; sometimes it can be useful. When feeling angry about something can help people identify problems that are hurting them. Anger can also be a good motivator to create change and follow important goals. It can also help people stay safe and defend themselves in dangerous situations. This happens when it gives the person a burst of energy as part of the fight or flight reaction.
Some people become aggressive towards those around them when they are angry. Other people prefer to hide their feelings and anger, taking it out on themselves. Learning healthy ways to recognise, express and deal with anger is important for both mental and physical health.
Why does anger appear?
Anger is the natural, instinctive response to a threat. Often the way we respond to threats is taught in childhood. Parents and grandparents teach their children and grandchildren to manage anger. If parents and grandparents have poor anger management skills, children will grow up not being able to express their anger in a healthy manner.
Anger is considered an emotion that hides primary negative emotions such as:
- feeling of betrayal
The physiological effects of anger
When we are angry, the heart rate, blood pressure and respiration increase. Anger makes the body temperature rise and the skin to perspire. The mind becomes sharpened and focused. These physiological reactions are triggered by large amounts of stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol.
Health problems when anger is involved
- digestive problems and abdominal pain
- anxiety and depression
- skin problems (hair loss, eczema)
- high blood pressure
- heart attack
When does anger become a problem?
Anger becomes a problem when the person loses control and harms those around them. This can happen when:
- anger is blocking someone’s ability to feel other emotions or to communicate in a healthy manner
- anger is expressed through unhelpful or destructive behaviour
- anger is harming the overall mental and physical health of a person
Do I have anger issues?
You may have anger issues if several of the following statements apply to you:
- Those at home or work tell me that my anger is a problem.
- I yell at people or make serious comments when I am upset.
- I knock down doors or make loud noises when I get upset.
- I get angry if someone makes me look bad in front of others.
- I hide my anger most of the time.
- I get angry when I feel hurt or rejected by others.
- I use anger to control other people, so I get what I want.
- I push people when they upset me.
- I feel angry because life has been unfair to me.
- Every day I see things that make me angry.
Learn how to relax
Learning relaxation techniques is a great way to manage stress. When dealing with anger, the best solution is to find a relaxing and nourishing activity.
Things you can try to relax and manage anger:
- exercise as often as possible (try cardio classes, yoga, swimming and running to reduce stress);
- read something soothing (a book, a hobby magazine);
- give yourself time to think before reacting – try counting to 10 and focus on the breathing;
- walk outside, into a park or a forest, or a beach;
- listen to music;
- try to recognise when you start to feel angry so you can take steps to calm down as early as possible;
- talk to people about your anger (a friend, or a support group);
- find out during therapy sessions how to become more assertive.
Things to avoid when you feel angry:
- making lots of changes at once (set small targets you can easily achieve);
- focusing on things you cannot change (focus on what you can do to help yourself feel better);
- using alcohol, cigarettes, gambling or drugs to relieve anger;
- blaming others for your feelings and reactions;
- using negative inner talk.
What does anger management mean?
Anger management is a learning process. It can help people identify stress factors that lead to uncontrollable anger. During this process, people learn how to stay calm. Remaining calm is the first step in positively handling tense situations.
Working with a therapist can help anyone learn anger management techniques to release the need for being aggressive. Anger management therapy can be very effective. The therapist can help people with anger issues understand what triggers their negative emotions. They can also learn healthy ways to express their anger without feeling frustrated and without making others afraid of them.
Our online platform gives access to a list of licensed therapists in different areas of the UK with whom anyone can connect anytime.