Posted on August 11, 2020
Anger issues can be serious and debilitating, but therapy is an effective tool. Read on for helpful ways to deal with anger issues.
Would you describe yourself as someone with a short fuse? Find it hard to keep your cool? Anger is a normal and healthy emotion, but only if it’s channeled in an appropriate and safe manner. It’s likely that you’ve experienced levels of anger that caused undesirable, and perhaps regrettable, behavior. These are some of the signs you might have anger issues. But don’t worry, there is a way to help with managing anger when it starts escalating to aggressive behavior, substance abuse, or even destructive anger that affects your mental health! There is a possibility that therapy matching service could help you find a way to manage this anger through anger management therapy and anger management techniques such as a certain coping skill like deep breathing exercises.
But, not all anger is an issue. It can look like wasting unproductive time rehashing upsetting events, feeling impatient in traffic when you’re late, or venting about a frustrating co-worker. Likewise, managing your anger doesn't mean never getting angry.
Like sadness or happiness, anger is an emotion that can range from mild irritation to intense rage. While anger usually comes with a negative connotation, there are instances where it can be beneficial. For instance, anger may spur you to stand up for someone in need or make a major positive change in your life.
Anger becomes problematic when it's felt too often or too intensely or when it's expressed in unhealthy ways. For this reason, anger management strategies can be beneficial. Luckily, anger management is a skill that everyone can learn. Even if you think anger isn’t an issue for you all the time, there’s always room for improvement. Wondering what causes anger issues? Ready to learn how to deal with anger issues? Start by considering these 7 anger management tips.
If no one bats an eye when you lose your cool, it might be time to evaluate whether not your negative feelings and bad reactions have become a habit. Take stock of events and situations that trigger angry feelings. Long lines, traffic jams, snide coworkers, or excessive tiredness are just a few things that might shorten your fuse. There also different types of anger issues that can be identified as well.
While it’s important not to place blame on the external circumstances for your inability to remain calm, understanding the things that trigger your anger can help you plan ahead and avoid the anger, or at the very least, manage stress better.
For some, anger hits in an instant, going from calm to furious in a heartbeat. But there are still likely warning signs when your anger is on the rise. Consider the physical warning signs of anger that you experience. Perhaps your heart beats faster or your face feels hot. Or, maybe you begin to clench your fists. You also might notice some cognitive changes like becoming hyper focused, unable to fixate on a problem.
By recognizing your warning signs, you have the opportunity to take immediate action and prevent yourself from doing or saying things that create bigger problems. Learn to pay attention to how you're feeling and you'll get better at recognizing the warning signs.
It’s probably been a while since you sat in a time out, and it probably wasn’t self-inflicted. Allowing yourself short breaks during times of the day that tend to be stressful can potentially prevent a situation from happening, or at least help you feel better prepared to handle what's ahead without overreacting. This timeout is a great time to practice a breathing exercise to help control an anger outburst.
If the situation is already in motion and you feel your anger rising from the frustrating situation, one of the best things you can do is to remove yourself if you can. When a conversation gets heated, take a break. Leave a meeting if you think you’re going to explode. Go for a walk if your kids upset you. A time-out can be key to helping you calm your brain and your body, and allow you to address the situation once you’re calm and have had time to collect your thoughts. It’s not really possible to have a productive conversation or resolve conflict when you’re feeling really upset anyway.
Instead of focusing on the cause of your anger, turn your attention to the resolution. Does your child's messy room drive you crazy? Close the door. Is your partner late for dinner every night? Have your dinner later — or agree to eat on your own a few times a week. Remind yourself that anger won't fix anything, but might make it worse. Fixating about an upsetting situation fuels angry feelings. If, for example, you’ve had a bad day at work, rehashing everything that went wrong all evening will keep you stuck in a state of frustration.
If there isn’t a clear solution at hand, shift gears with a new activity. Do something that requires your focus and makes it more challenging for angry or negative thoughts to creep in. Try deep-cleaning the kitchen, weeding the garden, paying some bills, or playing with the kids. Find something to do that will keep your mind and body occupied long enough to physically calm down.
Laughter really is the best medicine when it comes to diffusing anger. When things get tense, humor and playfulness can help you lighten the mood, smooth over differences, reframe problems, and keep things in perspective. Humor can allow you to get your point across without getting the other person’s defenses up or hurting their feelings.
However, it’s important that you laugh with the other person, not at them. Avoid sarcasm, or other pointed and mean-spirited humor. If in doubt, start by using self-deprecating humor. Sometimes, when humor and play are used to reduce tension and anger, a potential conflict can often not just deescalate, but even become an opportunity for greater connection and intimacy.
When tempers flare, put relaxation skills to work. Relaxation isn’t a quick fix, it’s more of a practice you should employ in less heated moments so that when tensions arise, you can reach for these techniques quickly and effectively. When you’re already feeling calm, practice deep-breathing exercises, imagine a relaxing scene, or repeat centering mantras that have meaning for you. Other ways to practice relaxation is to listen to music, write in a journal or do a few yoga poses. There are many different relaxation exercises you can utilize to reduce anger. The key is to find the one that works best for you.
Learning to control anger can be a real challenge for some. In some more serious cases, anger issues seem out of control, cause regretful behavior, or hurt those around you. Research consistently shows that cognitive behavioral interventions are effective for improving anger management. These interventions involve changing the way you think and behave. If you want to shift your emotional state away from anger, you can change what you’re thinking and what you’re doing with the help of a personalized anger management plan. Then, you'll know what to do when you start feeling upset.
Anger management can come in the form of group classes, which allow you to meet others coping with the same struggles and learn tips and techniques for managing your anger. Or, you can seek out an anger management therapist who can help you better explore the reasons behind your anger and identify triggers. Therapy can also provide a safe place to practice new skills for expressing anger.
If you need help finding a therapist for anger issues, Advekit can help get you matched today.
Alison LaSov, LMFT
Alison LaSov is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist with experience treating clients struggling with anxiety and depression. She predominantly focuses on mental health intervention for children and adolescents, particularly those who are in crisis. She has worked within the Los Angeles education system treating students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), as well as supervised a non-profit Teen Crisis Hotline out of Cedars-Sinai Hospital. Alison earned her B.A. from UCLA and M.A. from Pepperdine University. She is a native to Los Angeles and co-founder at Advekit.