Anger is a feeling or emotion like disgust, surprise, frustration, gratitude, and other ways to describe how you feel. Anger is typically a cover for other emotions such as frustration, anxiety, loneliness, grief, or shame.
Individuals who struggle with other psychiatric disorders such as ADHD, anxiety, or mood disorders are more likely to show forms of aggression or anger. This guide will help you clarify if you may be prone to anger issues and how to cope with them.
Do I Have Anger Issues?
Repeated focus on adverse events, words said, and how angry those events made you feel leads to depression. Anger issues may be a cover for something deeper such as depression and anxiety caused by convincing yourself these thoughts are all factual.
Your anger is an issue if it controls how you act and think, disrupts your ability to work and communicate, and frequently affects you physically and mentally.
In regards to children, anger issues, irritability, and aggression are common causes of referrals to therapy. Anger is the core symptom or emotion associated with ODD disorder (Oppositional Defiant Disorder).
How to Deal with Anger Issues
Being angry does not make you a bad person; it can mean that you have chemical needs that need support, such as nutrient deficiencies. It can also indicate that you have trauma, hurt or unforgiven beliefs that are weighing you down.
Use tools such as the Anger Iceberg to identify the emotions behind feelings of anger. Once you place the feeling underneath that anger, addressing the triggers and where they come from is easier. Digging into deeper issues is something that is best done with the help of a mental health professional to help guide you through this process.
Go to therapy to learn psychoeducation on anger and how Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can help you.
Practice relaxation and grounding techniques to help distract yourself from the situation that seems to be getting the best of you.
Acknowledging you have this issue or acknowledging others telling you that you get angry more frequently, can help you get support.
Tips to Recognize and Prevent Anger
1. Recognize Your Symptoms
Recognize what symptoms occur when you start to feel “angry.”
Journaling can help you better identify your triggers for personal use or sharing with a professional in therapy. Write down your physical symptoms, thoughts, and if you noticed a more profound reason for your anger, such as resentment, distrust, or sadness.
2. Know When To Walk Away
It may be easier said than done but walk away when you feel emotions flooding your body and you cannot control them.
If you are around someone you know well, you may feel comfortable telling them, “I care about you and what you have to say, but I am unable to talk to you about this right now. Let’s discuss it when I feel more level-headed and I am able to discuss it calmly”.
Walk away and do something healthier like read a book, get a breath of fresh air, meditate, ride your bike, pet an animal, do your hair, or watch a funny video.
Practice healthy habits before you get angry, and list examples of times you typically get mad. For example, “I get angry when my spouse nags me about leaving my clothes on the floor.” Then, practice healthy habits such as deep breathing, timeouts/walking away, and journal examples of how you will use those healthy habits to help you in that situation.
When you practice the anticipated scenario knowing that you typically get angry when your spouse mentions your clothes on the floor, you are giving yourself tools to cope with multiple situations.
So replace your feelings of anger when they say that and plan an activity, like a bike ride, when you start to feel angry or annoyed by their comments. Then when it happens, you know how to respond more productively.
4. Wait to Respond
Waiting to respond is similar to walking away. The saying “ if you can’t say something nice, don’t say it at all” can be beneficial in this situation. If you respond while you feel angry, you will not only say and possibly do things you regret but also fuel your anger.
If you call someone and tell them how angry you are at the moment and how this other person causes you distress, then you are making yourself more furious.
Once you identify your feelings beneath your anger, you can focus on meditations that help you cope with those feelings.
For example, if you have feelings of resentment that get triggered and cause you to be angry, you can do meditation for irritation. You may learn how to forgive that person for your well-being in this way and let go of those feelings of anger and resentment that you hold and cause you stress.
6. Take Supplements
Magnesium deficiency causes muscle tightness in the neck and shoulders, which is a problem in individuals who are anxious, tense, or angry; they tense up their bodies throughout the day without realizing it. In addition, magnesium deficiency causes irritability, anxiety, migraines, insomnia, and more.
Taking magnesium bisglycinate or magnesium threonate can help with magnesium deficiency's physical and mental symptoms. Magnesium bisglycinate is available in higher doses, and it is highly absorbable, easier on the stomach, and suitable for increasing overall magnesium levels. Magnesium threonate passes the blood-brain barrier more accessibly but is taken in lower doses and mainly for brain health.
You can also take a natural muscle relaxer. When you are tense and in physical pain or distress, you tend to be more irritable. Pain and discomfort can lessen your patience and cause you to become angrier than you intend to be.
7. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is essential for growth, development, detoxing, and especially mood. Getting at least 8 hours of sleep per night can reduce your anger issues or the underlying causes of anger.
Sleep debt and sleep deprivation can cause higher levels of anger. Sleep debt is repeatedly going without enough sleep in a night, and sleep deprivation is getting less than adequate sleep. Research showed increased anxiety, depression, anger, and mood swings when sleep deprived. Sleep deprivation can exacerbate mood disorders and anger issues in children and adolescents in as little as one sleepless night. (Saghir et al., 2018)
Sleep deprivation affects a part of your brain called the amygdala. The amygdala is one of the brain's primary parts controlling emotional responses. Sleep deprivation causes the amygdala to have heightened reactions to negativity or perceived threats.
A way to fix this is by doing a sleep extension to decrease negative mood and lessen the amygdala’s response. Sleep extension helps reduce the build-up of sleep debt; however, repeated sleep deprivation can diminish the benefits of sleep extension. (Motomura et al., 2017)
8. Forgive And Let It Go
**This, of course, is not meant for abuse or more severe forms of wrongdoings. Saying this is also not to downplay the seriousness and validity of anyone’s experiences.**
However, we can let go of many things that cause us to be angry and forgiven with time, meditation, therapy, and healing. Rumination can contribute to feelings of anger by causing you to repeatedly re-experience those events. (de la Fuente-Anuncibay et al., 2021)
Confirmation bias can cause someone to pursue ideas and beliefs that support their negative perspective about another person or situation. For example, “My neighbor didn't wave to me one time when they were outside, so my neighbor must have taken my package, and they must have been the one who ratted me out to the HOA.”
This is an unhelpful way of thinking and a form of cognitive distortion that causes us to hang onto anger.
When you have a clean slate, forgive someone, and set your boundaries, you can work towards letting go of that anger, resentment, and fear.
Forgiving someone does not diminish the event's effects on you; it only frees you from your negative feelings.
Where To Get Additional Help
Look up “anger management self-help groups in my area,” and you can find groups that meet locally or online to discuss how they cope with feelings of anger.
Go to therapy individually and with your spouse, family member, or friend with whom you may have repeated tension. Therapy can help you address your feelings towards that individual and also help you communicate both of your perspectives for better understanding.
For children and adults, it is beneficial to use anger management workbooks or read books about anger. Reading and learning more about these deeper feelings is helpful if you can narrow down the feelings beneath the anger.
Anger issues can be broken down and understood at a deeper level than simply being angry. Taking care of your physical and mental health, having a community of people you can rely on, and acknowledging that everyone has feelings of anger from time to time are important ways to help cope with anger.
Getting help does not make you weak or a bad person; it makes you an aware person who wants to improve.
This post originally appeared on Savoteur.