We all experience anger at times for all sorts of reasons and it’s a perfectly normal, healthy emotion. In fact, anger can help us to defend ourselves, motivate us to change things or even identify problems that we can then try to address.
However, problems arise if feelings of anger get out of control and we risk harming ourselves or others. This can happen when we don’t know how to express anger in a healthy, safe way, when anger becomes our default emotion to the exclusion of other, when it affects our mental or physical health or when it’s expressed through destructive behaviour.
This destructive behaviour could include shouting and swearing, hitting or throwing things, slamming doors or threatening others through verbal abuse or violence – which of course is frightening and damaging for the people nearby and can have serious consequences. It could also include self-neglect or non-violent but passive aggression towards others.
Managing anger isn’t always easy, especially when it threatens to overwhelm, but there are techniques to help:
• Recognise the signs – speeding heartbeat and fast breathing, body tension, jaw or fist clenching
• Slow yourself down, count to 10, go for a walk, talk to someone you trust
• Breathe slowly, try to relax your body, try mindfulness to calm yourself, release pent-up energy through exercise or a safe physical activity like hitting a pillow or even try to distract yourself by doing something completely different.
Remember, anger is a normal emotion. Learning these techniques to manage it will take time and patience as with any skill, but angry outbursts that are abusive or violent can have very serious consequences and proper treatment and support is essential.
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