Anger management: Control your mind and not let your mind control you!
Dr. Sneha Ganatra
January 28, 2021
Anger can vary in intensity from mild irritation to intense fury and rage. There are conflicting views whether expressing anger is good or bad for emotional health. Anger is an emotion we all experience: when your child doesn’t listen to you, when your spouse doesn’t understand you, someone cuts you at traffic, when your boss refuses to cooperate are just few instances when anger can shoot up. The situations may not be in your control, but your reaction to it surely is! Just the way we need to pursue a course or degree to get a job and earn our living, anger management is a program for prevention and anger control; which is essential for living peacefully.
The major goal of anger management is to control and regulate the anger before it becomes a problem that can harm you or others. Wrongly expressed anger not just affects your relationships but also can come in the way of your success. Research on affect and self-regulation shows that it occurs because negative emotional states often impairs impulse control.
Effects of Anger:
Anger though being a normal human emotion, can be destructive if it gets out of control. It can lead to problems is all areas of life; work, relationships, and overall quality of life. There are lot of physiological changes that are accompanied when you get angry; heart rate accelerates, blood pressure goes up, skin perspires more, respiration rate increases, even to an extent that the face looks pale or flushed. Few other effects of anger are:
- Mental health: Chronic anger can lead to deterioration of mental health. It can lead to depression, stress, anxiety attacks and other such mental health problems.
- Quality of life: Anger can lead to difficulty in seeing positive outlook of life, absorbs all mental energy creating difficulty in concentrating and enjoying life.
- Physical health: Long term high levels of stress and anger makes you more susceptible to heart disease, diabetes, a weakened immune system, insomnia, and high blood pressure.
- Relationships: Actions and words spoken in anger can create permanent scars in relationships. The damage done can be long term especially in the mind of children.
- Work: Constant aggressive behavior can lead deterioration in performance at work and inability of other teammates to trust and respect.
Most of the people feel that they cannot control their anger and it’s not in their hands. Well, it is time we bust this myth! Anyone can learn to express their emotions in a better way to avoid hurting others than venting in aggressive manner. Anger management isn’t about suppressing or ignoring the feelings of anger, rather it teaches you to communicate or channelize it in a healthier way to prevent conflicts and damage to your relationships.
How to manage it?
It won’t happen overnight! You need to practice it till you master it. It will require time, patience and dedication. And when you see the positive results; better relationships, improvement in quality of life, better work atmosphere, you are motivated to do more until it turns to a habit. Here are few tips how one can manage their anger:
- First and foremost step is recognizing anger. It can allow a person to redirect their thought process to a more constructive place. Detecting the emotion early can help taking steps in controlling it.
- Try deep breathing, positive self-talk, or stopping your angry thoughts by deviating towards something good in life, maybe your kids or imagining a positive experience.
- Take a step back. A pause in the situation and taking some time off can help limit an angry response. Go for a walk or play with your pet, anything that can help take a break.
- Slow non-strenuous exercises like yoga can help relax tense muscles and make you feel better and calmer.
- Get a reality check! Ask yourself, is it really something big or worth to get angry about? Is your response appropriate to the situation? Many situations can be handled tactfully if asked these questions before responding. Know when to let something go!
- A lack of sleep can exacerbate negative thoughts and can make you agitated and short-tempered. Try to get seven to nine hours of good quality sleep.
- Angry people can jump to conclusions very soon which may not be accurate always. It is better to collect all your thoughts before you speak. At the same time, listen carefully to what the other person is saying and take your time before answering.
- Anger is at times due to a long-term grudge and resentment that causes negative feelings to crowd up, it is best to choose forgiveness over damage to your own health and your relationships.
- Stretch or massage the areas of tension. Rolling your shoulders or side neck stretches help relax these muscles and help release the tension build up. This can help you cool down and keep anger on a check.
- If two people cannot come to an agreement, learn to agree to disagree. If a conflict is going nowhere, you can choose to disengage and let it go.
- Alcohol, nicotine, caffeine and drugs can lower your inhibitions and make it more difficult to control your anger. Try to quit or reduce the intake.
- Practicing meditation can help make you feel calmer and in better control of your emotions.
- Talk to someone you trust. He/she may not provide you with a solution but can be a good listener and at times provide you with a different perception to the situation.
- Journaling can help! Writing your emotions and thoughts can help clear your mind and can calm you down. It gives time to re-assess your situation.
- Practicing gratitude can help you focus on what is good when everything seems going wrong. It can help neutralize your anger and turn around the entire situation.
Despite putting all the efforts to control the anger, if you still are facing issues and is affecting your relationships and quality of life, it is best to seek a professional’s help. Your doctor may also help you make sure you don’t have any health issues which is contributing to the problem. He can suggest some anger management classes or therapy that can be of help to you.