Anger is a normal and healthy emotion that everyone experiences, but it is how you manage that anger that’s important. There are loads of different reasons why you may get angry. You might be angry as you feel you’ve been treated unfairly or that someone else has been.
You might feel you have no control over things, be stressed or under a lot of pressure. Or you could be experiencing body changes that can cause major mood swings, be depressed, or just have a short fuse.
All this stuff can make you get angry, which is OK.
Anger can be a difficult emotion to express and manage, particularly because a lot of us have been taught not to show it. You can end up feeling guilty or ashamed about being angry despite it being a really necessary emotion.
Remember that feeling angry is not a bad thing. All emotions are important and serve a purpose. It’s not anger that is the problem, but what you do with the anger that matters.
Anger can become unhealthy when you express it in a way that hurts others or yourself. Bottling it up and not expressing it can create problems as well. There are practical ways to get anger off your chest. Remember, violence is never one of them.
Dealing with anger
There are some common myths about anger that are quite unhelpful. A lot of us think it’s better to hold in our anger, than to let it out. While venting isn’t necessarily helpful, holding in our anger is unhealthy too.
Letting out anger doesn’t necessarily have to be something that is aggressive, or involves outbursts. If you hold in an emotion, it will find a way to come out somewhere.
Sometimes we can also feel like our anger is out of control and feel helpless. While you may not be able to control the situations that lead you to feeling angry, you can, in fact, control how you express your anger.
We always have a choice in how we respond to a situation.
Management of your anger
Anger can often feel uncontrollable, but there are actually several things you can do to manage it.
- Count to 100 (an oldie but a goodie) – as you probably know, when you’re angry you can end up saying or doing stuff you regret. Doing something as simple as counting to a hundred might seem pointless, but it actually works really well. It gives you a chance to calm down and figure out what you want to say.
- Leave the room – if the situation is getting to the stage where people are yelling or getting aggressive, leave the room. Tell them you’ll talk about it when they and/or you calm down a bit.
- Kick a ball – do something active like kicking a ball, punching a pillow or going for a run. This’ll give you a chance to expend some energy and calm down.
- Play a video-game – if you feel you’re going to get into a fight, it’s better to do it in a game than in real life. Use it to release some anger and energy.
- Play some music – strap on headphones and play music for a while. It’s amazing how much better it can make you feel.
- Go somewhere quiet – go to a park or wherever you feel like you can sit and figure stuff out. Try to think about why you’re angry and what you could do to solve whatever’s going on.
- Do some deep breathing – when we feel anger, our stress response tends to kick in. Our heart rate goes up. When we take a minute to breathe deeply, it forces our stress response to go down a bit, and can help make us feel less angry.
- Write it down – taking 5-10 minutes to write down what you’re mad about can help get what you’re feeling out. Sometimes it can even help organise your thoughts on the situation. Afterwards, rip up what you’ve written. Try not to re-read it. This can help you process and move through and on from what you’re feeling.
If you keep getting angry
If you find you keep getting angry or you’re lashing out, especially if you’re getting violent towards people or things, speak to a youth worker, counsellor, or your GP.
Getting violent never helps; you can make things worse, hurt yourself or hurt someone else.
Speaking to someone can help you figure out why you’re getting angry and help you deal with it so you don’t need to lash out. See face-to-face help about the different options you have avaible to you for some extra support.