Wrath, fury, rage - whatever you call it, anger is a powerful emotion and often an unhelpful one.

It is natural to get angry. Sometimes there are valid reasons like:

  • something that happened
  • something that was said
  • a situation at work or home.

There are tools you can learn to help you with your anger.

Understanding anger:

Anger can take different forms. Some people feel angry a lot or cannot stop thinking about what made them angry. Others get angry less, but when they do it comes out as explosive bouts of rage.

Uncontrolled anger can negatively affect physical and emotional wellbeing. Research shows that anger and hostility can increase people's chances of coronary heart disease. It can also lead to worse outcomes in people who already have heart disease. It can cause stress-related problems including

  • insomnia
  • digestive problems
  • headaches

Anger can also add to violent and risky behaviours. These include drug and alcohol use and assault. On top of all that, anger can significantly damage relationships.

How to keep anger at bay:

Anger can be caused by many events. You might feel angry at:

  • a person
  • the company you work for
  • an event like a traffic jam or a political election

You do not have to let your anger get the better of you. Here are some ways to help you stay calm.

  • Check yourself.

It is hard to make smart choices when you are angry. Rather than trying to talk yourself down from a cliff, avoid climbing it in the first place. Try to find warning signs that you are getting annoyed. When you know the signs, step away or try to relax to prevent your irritation escalating.

  • Do not dwell.

Some people tend to keep going over the incident that made them angry. That is unproductive. Especially if you have already resolved the issue. Try to let go of the past incident. Focus on things you appreciate about the person or the situation that made you angry.

  • Change the way you think.

It is easy to feel like things are worse than they really are. You can replace unhelpful negative thoughts. Instead of thinking "Everything is ruined," tell yourself "This is frustrating, but it"s not the end of the world."

  • Try to reframe your thinking:

Avoid words like "never" or "always" when talking about yourself or others. Statements like "This never works" or "You're always forgetting things" make you feel your anger is right.

Even when it is right, anger can become irrational. Remember that the world is not out to get you. Do this when you start to feel angry.

Angry people tend to demand things. Change your demands into requests. If things do not go your way, do not let your disappointment turn into anger.

Relax. Deep breathing and relaxing imagery can help soothe anger. If you practice these often, it will be easier when angry feelings strike.

Muscle relaxation. Slowly tense then relax each muscle group one at a time. You might start with your toes and work your way up to your head and neck.

Regular exercise can help you burn off extra tension. It can also reduce stress.

Know and avoid your triggers. Give some thought to the things that make you angry.

  • if you always get angry driving at rush hour, take the bus. Or try to change your schedule to a less busy time
  • if you always argue with your spouse at night, avoid bringing up touchy topics when you are both tired
  • if you are always annoyed that your child has not cleaned his room, shut the door so you do not have to look at the mess

You cannot fully remove angry feelings. You can change how events affect you, and your response. By making the effort to keep your anger in check, you and the people close to you will be happier for the long run.

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