Anger is one of the basic emotions we experience in our daily life. It is natural and sometimes even necessary. Here is a point to ponder upon: why is monitoring and controlling anger important when it is a naturally occurring phenomenon? Everyone tends to feel that annoyance or frustration sometimes, so why is it important to control it? The answer lies in the famous quote, ‘excess of anything in life is poison.’ Anger, like every other feeling, can harm the individual as well as others around. When the feeling turns into an act of aggression and results in physical, verbal or emotional harm, anger impacts the health, mental-wellbeing and the quality of relationships in life.
Monitoring anger does not mean that it should not be expressed. The famous saying that holding onto anger is like drinking poison while waiting for someone else to die, (often said to be Buddha’s quote but is largely a disputed saying), shows the importance of expressing anger at the right time and in the right manner. The feelings of resentment, irritation and annoyance should be articulated in an effective manner and therein lays the importance of anger management.
Think about the ways different people around you express their anger. Do most of them remain passive while expressing it or is it more of an outburst? Is their reaction usually harmless or a little hurtful and destructive? Do they remain calm while expressing it or become more restless and fidgety while experiencing an unexplainable pain themselves? Do they seem to be in control of their words and actions during these episodes or they appear to have lost their command on themselves? What happens once the anger fades? Do their close relatives appreciate their responses or not? By now, you must have developed an image of an ordinary expression of anger and have an idea as to what factors differentiate it from a full-blown and intense reaction. You might have also come up with your answer as to why the anger needs to be controlled.
Although there are multiple psychological tests to formally measure and identify healthy and unhealthy means of expressing anger, it is easy to identify a person with anger issues. Where a typical angry response might be short-lived with a manageable aftermath, a more intense response might bear severe and destructive outcomes, both on the person and those around them. Nevertheless, it is equally important to monitor anger and channel or express it in a healthy way. Moreover, what one usually fails to see is the damage anger causes to the individuals themselves. In addition to a change in the mental state, such individuals also damage their physical health as anger can cause rapid changes such as increased blood pressure and heart rate. These rapid changes cause damage to the body if they are prolonged or very high in intensity.
Here are certain ways to manage anger effectively in daily life:
Bodily signs: Immediately pay attention to any physical signs in your body that might include shortness of breath, palpitation, headache, fidgeting, and tension in muscles. Once you notice these signs, know that you are moving towards a different emotional state. Pay attention!
Breathe: Once you acknowledge bodily signs, take deep breaths instantly. Count till 7 while inhaling, 4 while holding your breath and 7 while exhaling.
Break: Take a small 10-20 minutes break to calm yourself. Quit the conversation or leave the room. Do whatever taking a break means to you.
Listen to Music: Listen to a song that might help you calm down. Switch your attention to something external.
Exercise: Move your body by exercising, dancing, playing a sport or by taking a walk. Choose an activity where the energy built-up finds a way out.
Journal: Pen down your thoughts and feelings in a journal.
Seek Advice: Ask for support or help.
Pause and think: Try to assess if the reasons that made you angry are accurate. Check for personal biases
Communicate: Talk to the right person once you feel better.
Many do not believe in expressing anger, rather they believe in controlling anger to a point where it becomes damaging. Psychologists emphasize on channeling anger and understanding the thoughts and feelings associated with it. Therefore, firstly, anger requires acknowledgment. Secondly, it requires taking a step back for analysis. This involves understanding the situation and one’s own thought process. Thirdly, by using appropriate communication techniques convey the message to those involved. Lastly, if there is no way of resolving the matter immediately, one should try their best to utilize their energy in constructive activities instead of displacing their anger.