It is important to treat anger outbursts with the same approach, compassion and understanding as all other physical and mental disorders. People with anger issues are not broken or beyond repair, they are also not acting out deliberately. Everyone has the ability to become angry, no one is immune to it, though we all have it in varying degrees depending on circumstances and backgrounds.
Anger issues may be a result of past trauma, present stressors or anxiety about the future, and because we do not exist in isolation, we need the concerted effort of those around us to manage it. Unchecked anger may affect our mental and physical health, relationships and career.
Steps to Anger Management
- Identify your triggers
- Recognize the warning signs
- Communicate your triggers and warning signs to your family and friends
- Master anger management techniques
Identify your triggers
It is easier to deal with anger when you know what the source is. Knowing the source of the problem brings with it prevention strategies or solutions (management strategies). Anger is a result of other underlying issues such as frustration, unhealed mental and emotional wounds, resentment from unresolved relationship issues, depression, bipolar disorders, learned behaviours, vulnerability, rejection, abandonment, or chronic stress etc. If you can uproot the cause of the anger, you can eliminate the anger itself.
Recognize the warning signs
People are different, some have racing heartbeats, trouble concentrating, raised vocal volume, faster breathing, tension in the body, clenched fists, stomach knots, replaying past images or sounds, sweating, trembling or irritability.
Communicate your triggers
Much like someone with diabetes would ask assistance with healthier meal options, someone who is prone to anger outbursts needs to let the people closest to them of their condition, to empower them to help you and appeal for assistance either with prevention strategies or solutions. It is easier if friends and family understand their role in your struggle and how they can be supportive to you, because they want what is best for you too!
10 Anger Management Techniques
- Meditate mindfully (Use silent meditation where you focus on an image, deep breathing, or a bible verse). Alternatively close your eyes and count to 20 or say out letters of the alphabet.
- Have a safe word, mantra or affirmation that you chant to yourself that is positively anchored in your mind and elicits a positive reaction like “I can choose better”, or “I am bigger than this”. Let your friends and family know your safe word too, so they can help when they see the onset of your anger.
- Much like chanting a mantra, which uses the sense of hearing to calm you down, try using other senses too, e.g. sense of smell -rub your favourite scent or lotion in your hands, sense of taste -make your favourite beverage or candy, sense of touch -use a soft ball or caress yourself with your favourite fabric, sense of sight -draw or colour in a picture or look at a serene landscape.
- Use body massage to release tension or get moving e.g. take a walk, jog, or exercise. Similarly, combat sports like boxing or martial arts can have a similar release effect.
- Play your favourite music that can calm, soothe, distract, or remind you of happier times.
- Turn to your gratitude lists, your happy jar or positive journal entries to remind yourself that it is not all that bad!
- Let it out safely by praying, writing, crying, singing, screaming into, or punching your pillow. Alternatively, call a friend, someone you trust, who has empathy, a soothing voice, and a calming approach.
- Divert the mind with humour, play DVD or tv show that can make you laugh.
- Take time out away from the trigger source. Go to your room or get out of the house.
- Stop talking. It is important for you and your trigger source to stop talking lest you exacerbate the situation.
When to seek therapy or professional help
When anger is causing the following:
- Trouble with the law
- Regular uncontrollable or unmanageable outbursts
- Hurting yourself, violence, damage to property or endangering others
- Physical or mental illness
- Suppressing of emotions