From time to time we all get angry. It’s an absolutely normal response to have. You might stub your toe on the corner of the couch, you might walk into lounge room to discover that your three year old thought the DVD player was a toaster and tried to make some toast, or you might sit behind the wheel of your car to find the battery dead. These are all reasonable reasons to feel your blood boil and make you want to scream and shout and yell. But are there other times when you feel angry and you can’t really figure out why? Or you may get super angry over tiny, little things that really aren’t that important but, in the moment really make you lose your cool?
“Living with anger is not a lot of fun… for anyone.”
Living with anger is not a lot of fun… for anyone. It’s tough on the one who’s angry and it can be frightening for family, loved ones and damaging for children to witness. Anger affects us all in different ways and how we express anger can be equally as different.
There’s generally two unhealthy ways which we deal with anger. The first one is we have anger explosions. This is when we tend to ‘lose it’ with a raging type of anger. This can be anything from verbal abuse all the way up to physical altercations. Then there’s anger repression where you push all that anger deep down inside where it stays down there just stewing and waiting to bubble up to the surface usually in the form of anxiety and or depression.
On a social level, anger can affect our romantic relationships, our family relationships and the relationships we have with our children. On a personal health and wellbeing level, an ongoing anger issue has the potential to do serious damage to your body.
Some short- and long-term health problems that have been linked to unmanaged anger include:
- Digestion problems
- Abdominal pain
- High blood pressure
- Heart attack
Anger just doesn’t appear from nowhere. If you really want to make a significant change in your life and manage your anger, then it’s probably worth thinking about what some of the underlying issues are that cause you to feel that anger:
- One of the major reasons we tend to feel anger is due to fear. This could be a fear or concern about yourself or a loved one. It’s that old thing where if a parent sees a child do something dangerous like wander out into the street and almost get hit by a car, their first reaction is more than likely anger. This is just a hard and fast response to their fear.
- It’s not uncommon for another cause of anger arise from a sense of powerlessness. This will generally present if you’re in a position where you’re suffering with a health issue, in an abusive relationship or workplace. Feeling as if you have no options or that there’s nothing you can do about your situation creates a sense of powerlessness that can manifest in anger.
- Anxiety is deeply intertwined with anger. Those who live with anxiety tend to feel overwhelmed and that anxiety can express itself through anger.
- Many people have experienced a traumatic or painful experience at some stage. It’s not uncommon for these past events to trigger anxiety, frustration and angry outbursts.
- Grief is also another common cause of anger. Losing friends and family or even a job is an extremely tough time that comes with a whole gamut of emotions. Those suffering from grief often find themselves very angry because they’re trying to come to terms with the cruelty and unfairness of the world.
The good news is, and we know that this all sound pretty dire, that it doesn’t have to be that way. Anger is a perfectly normal emotion and reaction to many life events. It’s only when it starts to be our dominant emotion that it becomes a problem.
So, how do we make sure it doesn’t become our dominant emotion you say?
How to express your anger in healthy ways:
- If you’re starting to feel out of control in a situation, just walk away – take a couple of deep breaths and wait until you cool down. Learn about taking a Time Out.
- Regular exercise is an awesome way to burn off some of that extra anger and energy. Try and do something physical three to four times a week but make sure that it’s something you enjoy. If you hate running, don’t go for a run. But if you love boxing, go join a gym and start training.
- Get a hobby. We live such hectic lives and there never feels like there’s any time for any other commitments other than work, family and whatever else it is you have to do around the house. Forget all that (well as much of it as you can) and get a hobby. You probably feel you don’t have any spare time, but you need to make time. Schedule it in if you have to. If you want to play golf, then play golf. If you want to go to the footy, play video games or whatever, you should do it. It’s important that you schedule in some time and blow off some stream.
- Meditation and relaxation are amazing and can do wonders for your mental health. You can do it for as little as five minutes a day or as long as an hour. It’s whatever you think you need. Whatever your schedule is, you can fit five minutes in. If you want to know more about it, just check out this article – What is mindfulness?
- Think about keeping a diary of your anger outburst and try to figure out what the triggers for your anger are.
- Pick up the phone and call one of our counsellors or see a psychologist if you still feel mad about something that occurred in your past.
Anger is a perfectly normal emotion that you shouldn’t feel guilty or ashamed over. Everybody at many times in their lives has felt angry. But if your anger is something that’s negatively affecting your life then it might be something you need to get a handle on.
Remember it’s always better to be happy. But sometimes being happy just takes a little bit of work.
If you’re feeling as if your struggling with your anger and you don’t know what to do, you can always pick up the phone and call MensLine. We’re available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to help you out with all your mental health and child tantrum throwing dilemmas.
Call us on 1300 78 99 78 or access online counselling.