Anger is often considered a negative emotion. We may suppress our anger because we think that is how we are supposed to behave. When you bottle up your anger, you are most likely sacrificing your own needs to please others.
Yet, anger is an emotion that allows us to protect ourselves. When expressed positively, anger helps us stand up for ourselves or others who we think are being mistreated. Anger encourages us to speak up when something is bothering us. It’s also a great motivator for change. If we feel strongly enough about something, we will take the steps to make things better.
Here are some ways to help you appropriately manage your anger so you can find a constructive solution to a situation:
Take a few deep breathes to give yourself time to think before you act. Breathing also helps you relax and ease tension you may be holding in as you deal with being angry.
Acknowledge your anger
Being angry may make you uncomfortable. Many of us are taught that anger is a bad emotion. You may not even recognize when you’re angry. Trying to ignore or suppress your anger can make it explode out of you with hurtful words or rash actions. By realizing you are angry, you can accept it and constructively deal with it.
Change your environment
If possible, remove yourself from the situation for a few minutes. Go take a quick walk and get some fresh air. If you’re stuck somewhere you can’t leave, such as your car or a meeting, use relaxation techniques by visualizing a place that makes you happy.
Think before you speak and then say what you’re thinking calmly and rationally. You can state why you are angry in a nonthreatening and diplomatic way. Explain why you’re upset and present a solution that would help you feel better about the situation.
For instance, you and a friend may take turns carpooling your kids to and from school. But lately, you’ve been doing the majority of the driving. Calmly let your friend know that you feel like you’re doing more than your share. Explain what you wish would happen to rectify the situation. Odds are your friend didn’t realize the driving had become unbalanced and will happily make a change to remedy it.
You can be assertive in stating you are angry without sounding aggressive. Being assertive means that you stand up for yourself, but do it in a constructive way. You may want to practice what you will say in your head until you feel it will get your point across and help improve the situation.
Rather than focus on the negative look at the positive side of things. For instance, you are fed up with your kids leaving a trail of stuff all through the house. Rather than saying, “Why can’t you put anything away? Do I have to do everything around here?” Phrase it more positively, “It would really help me out if you would pick up your things and put them where they belong.” In my experience, they will still leave things everywhere, but over time you will see results and be less stressed.
Let it go
Once you have expressed your feelings and vented your anger, let it go. It may still bother you. It may not feel quite resolved. But holding on to anger and negative feelings is not good for your overall health and well-being.
By knowing how to effectively releasing your anger, you can also help improve your health. Here’s how expressing your anger is good for your mind and body:
Improve your heart health
A study has shown that those who experience more anger and bottle up their angry feelings are at an increased risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks and other coronary issues. Learning to control and express your anger can improve your heart health.
Settle your stomach
People often feel pain in their intestines or “guts” when they get angry. That’s because symptoms of anger in your physical health usually strike in your gastrointestinal (GI) tract first. A chemical imbalance can lead to peptic ulcers, diarrhea, acid reflux, cramping and constipation.
Boost your immune system
Your GI tract also plays a major part in your immune system. When your GI system gets out of whack, it opens you up to more frequent infections and a lowered immunity to other disorders and illnesses. It also makes it harder to heal from minor wounds.
Bottling up or suppressing your anger may lead you to use food as a source of comfort. In addition, when you get angry, the body releases a stress hormone called cortisol. Higher cortisol levels tend to create fat deposits in the stomach area. By managing your anger, you can more effectively maintain or even lose weight.
Feel more relaxed
By expressing your anger and letting it go, you also reduce your stress levels. You will feel more confident and relaxed in your relationships as well.
Anger can be a positive emotion when used effectively. When you express your anger calmly and constructively, you can help improve your relationships, your mood and your health.