Anger is a normal human reaction in response to feeling threatened, provoked or being treated unfairly. Anger is an intense emotion, and it changes the way that people feel, think and behave. Everyone experiences anger at times, and it’s useful for telling people when something’s not right or dangerous. However, anger becomes a problem if it leads to harm to ourselves or others.
Signs that anger is a problem
Some people know that they have a problem with anger. Other people might not be so sure. The following things might not be problematic on their own but a combination of them might indicate a difficulty with anger.
Physical experiences associated with anger:
- faster heartbeat
- tense muscles
- clenching your fists
- tightness in your chest
- feeling hot
Emotional experiences associated with anger:
- feeling tense or nervous
- being unable to relax
- being easily irritated
- feeling humiliated
Thoughts and cognitions associated with anger:
- resenting other people
- not being able to remember the reason you are angry
- deliberately being unkind or using hurtful words with people
- thinking the worst of people or judging them harshly
- thinking everything is a massive problem
Behavioural experiences associated with anger:
- ignoring people or sulking
- starting fights
- breaking things
What can I do to help myself?
- try to notice when you begin to feel angry so you can take action to calm down as soon as possible
- give yourself time to think before reacting – try counting to 10 or doing a breathing exercise
- talk to people about what’s making you angry – speak to someone who is not connected to the situation, such as a friend, a GP or a support group
- exercise – activities such as running, walking, swimming and yoga can help you relax and reduce stress
- find out how to be more assertive and to improve your self-esteem
- consider peer support, where people use their experiences to help others.
- try to manage unhelpful thoughts, reframe situations, solve problems and deal with stress
Try to avoid trying to do everything at once by setting small targets you can easily achieve. Try not to focus on the things you cannot change, instead focus your time and energy on helping yourself feel better. Acknowledge that you are not alone in experiencing anger, most people feel angry sometimes and support is available. Try not to use alcohol, cigarettes, gambling or drugs to relieve anger as these can lead to poor mental health.