Getting angry doesn’t feel great, but it’s also part of life. There are good ways to deal with anger and to let off steam without blowing up.
Anger is a normal emotion that everyone feels. Anger primes us to respond to threats and fight to defend ourselves.
Anger is one of the most difficult emotions for many people to manage, and people often feel ashamed of angry feelings. Some people fear that expressing anger will make a situation worse. Others find it hard to control their anger and "fly off the handle" easily.
Anger often arises when we feel helpless or unable to control a situation. A good way of dealing with anger is to express the energy associated with anger in a constructive way.
Dealing with anger
The first step in dealing with anger is recognising when you are angry. Pay attention to your body—when we get angry our muscles tense up, our heart starts to race, and we feel a surge of energy. This is known as the "fight or flight" response—which primes us to take action. Other clues that we are angry are sarcasm or hostility toward others, and feeling frustrated and tense.
The second step in dealing with anger is working out what is causing it. If you are part of the problem, it’s important to take responsibility for your actions and to acknowledge any mistakes you have made.
The final step in dealing with anger involves taking action to resolve the situation. At this point you need to decide whether or not to express your anger. Constructive expressions of anger can lead to better understanding and problem solving, but in some situations expressing your anger isn’t possible or will make things worse.
Alternatives to anger
If expressing your anger isn’t helpful or possible, step back from the problem and find another outlet for the energy generated by your anger. Exercise, creative activities and hobbies are all good for energy release. Active relaxation such as meditation, breathing exercises, and yoga are also helpful. Sometimes, humour can be used to defuse anger if you are clashing with someone.
If your anger feels out of control, or you have trouble expressing angry feelings constructively, Student Counselling can help. If someone close to you becomes violent when angry, please seek help immediately.