Anger is a strong feeling of displeasure or hostility. Although anger is a basic human emotion, feeling angry can be a problem for many people. This is because many people believe:
Some people have trouble controlling their behavior when they are angry and may do things that are hurtful or destructive. These people need to learn to control how they express anger. Other people keep their anger bottled up inside. These people need to learn that it is okay to express anger in a controlled way. Everyone should express anger through words rather than through physical violence.
Pain, fatigue, poor sleep, emotional stress, alcohol or drug use, and mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder can increase angry feelings and behavior. Whether you yell and hit or keep it all inside, long-term anger can damage your health and your relationships.
During an angry episode, your blood pressure and heart rate rise. Anger releases "fight or flight" hormones, and some people do not return to normal right away. They stay tense and on edge for awhile.
People who express too much anger often end up feeling alone and distant from others because their sullen, hostile, or sarcastic behavior can make people turn away from them. A vicious circle is then set up: they feel angry because of the way others are reacting to their anger.
People who feel it is wrong to ever be angry can be out of touch with all of their feelings. They may be unable to feel joy or love. They may fear they would not be loved if others knew how much anger was inside them, so they always hide it. Then, because anger can almost never be completely hidden, they may act it out. They may do things like being late or not keeping promises.
People who grow up in healthy families may quickly blow off steam and get over angry feelings. They resolve the conflict and move on.
But when there are serious problems within a family, everyone in the family may feel angry much of the time. They may often have outbursts of anger and feel that their angry impulses are not under their control. Or they may always "act nice" and expect the same of others. In other words, people with a lot of anger inside may be either out of control or too controlled. The anger becomes a big problem and guilt about it adds to the problem.
For some people, the goal is to learn how to control their expressions of anger and to express anger less often. For others, the goal is to learn how to express anger more often. Both types of people should aim toward expressing anger in words rather than through actions and in a controlled way.
A good way to judge is something called the "cop at the elbow" rule. If you explode even when you could get in serious trouble, such as being arrested, you may have a real physical or psychological disorder.
To check your level of anger, ask yourself the following questions:
Talking with a sympathetic friend, spouse, healthcare provider, or therapist about life stresses can help you calm down.
It can help to learn relaxation techniques. The 3 basics of relaxation are:
Self-statements can also be helpful. These statements can replace old ways of thinking. Some helpful self-statements are:
Time-outs can also be useful. When you feel yourself getting tense or frustrated, say to the other person, "I'm beginning to feel angry and I need a time-out." Time-outs work best in this way:
Healthy anger management involves 5 steps:
If you still have problems handling anger, talk with a healthcare provider or mental health professional.