Manage Your Anger With These Tips And Tools

Taming the Flame: How To Manage Anger For a Calmer You

Let’s face it, anger is a fiery emotion. It can flare up in the blink of an eye, leaving us feeling like a walking (or yelling) red blob. But anger, like any emotion, is a natural part of being human. The key is learning how to manage your anger before it manages us. That’s where emotional regulation comes in.

Emotional Regulation 101: Keeping it Cool

Think of emotional regulation as your internal thermostat. It helps you stay in a healthy emotional zone, not overheating with anger or freezing with fear. When this system’s working well, you can recognise your emotions, understand why you’re feeling them, and respond in a way that works for you and the situation.

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So Why Do We Struggle?

Sometimes, life throws curveballs and our emotional thermostat gets stuck on “high.” Maybe you’re under work pressure, dealing with family stuff, or haven’t had enough sleep (everyone’s been there!). These challenges can make it harder to regulate our emotions, leading to meltdowns or bottling things up – neither of which are ideal.

On top of that, there are a few other reasons why you might struggle to manage your anger, with some science behind it:

  • Poor Role Models: If you grew up in a household where anger was the go-to emotion, you might not have learned healthy ways to express or manage it. Our brains are wired to learn by observing, and witnessing frequent anger outbursts can set the standard for our own emotional responses.
  • Conditions like ADHD: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can make it harder to control impulses and regulate emotions. This can be due to imbalances in brain chemicals like dopamine and norepinephrine, which are involved in attention, focus, and reward processing.
  • Neuroscience of Anger: When we perceive a threat or experience frustration, the amygdala, an almond-shaped part of the brain linked to emotions like fear and anger, gets fired up. This triggers a cascade of reactions, including the release of stress hormones and physical changes like increased heart rate and blood pressure. It’s a primal fight-or-flight response meant to keep us safe in danger, but in everyday situations, it can lead to unnecessary anger outbursts.

4 Tips for Preventing Future Anger Outbursts

There are two main approaches to managing anger: preventative techniques to stop the flames from igniting in the first place, and strategies for dealing with anger when it’s already bubbling away. Here are 4 key ways to prevent future anger outbursts:

  1. Identify Your Triggers: What makes you see red? Recognise your anger hot buttons so you can avoid them or prepare yourself when you can’t.
  2. Self-care is King (or Queen): Getting enough sleep, eating healthy, and exercising regularly can all help you manage stress and emotional outbursts, thereby helping you to manage your anger too. A healthy body is more equipped to handle any emotional challenge.

    Find out more about why self-care matters here.
  3. Talk it Out: Bottling things up can be a recipe for disaster. Chat with a friend, family member, or therapist about what’s bothering you. Talking about your frustrations can help you process them in a healthy way.
  4. Daily Mindfulness Practices: Mindfulness involves training your attention to be present in the moment without judgement. This can help you identify early warning signs of anger and develop healthier coping mechanisms. Techniques like meditation and deep breathing can be practised daily for just a few minutes to see a difference.

    Learn more about everyday mindfulness techniques here.

Taming Anger Flames in the Moment

But what if you’re already feeling the anger simmer? Here are some tips to bring yourself back down:

  • Hit the Pause Button: Before you react, take a physical and mental step back. Excuse yourself from the situation if needed.
  • Breathe Deeply: Take slow, deep breaths from your belly. This helps activate your relaxation response and calm your nervous system.
  • Count to Ten (or a Hundred!): Counting gives your brain something else to focus on, taking the edge off your anger.
  • Mindfulness Magic: Practice mindfulness techniques like focusing on your senses or repeating a calming mantra.
  • Body Check: Notice physical signs of anger like tense muscles. Try progressive muscle relaxation to release tension.

Remember, learning to manage your anger is a skill that takes practice. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get it right every time. And forget, you don’t have to go it alone either. Body & Mind offers a range of Telehealth psychology and mindfulness programs to help you develop healthy emotional regulation skills.

To learn more about our programs — which include access to the World’s Happiest App, Calm, as well as regular consults with trained health professionals — click here.

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