Many connotate anger as a “negative” or “bad” emotion, but it can actually be helpful. Here's why we need to be more in touch with and manage our anger.

Anger and Mental Health

Anger is quite a powerful human emotion. It stems from feelings of frustration, hurt, and even fear. While anger is an extremely normal emotion, it seems as though it’s in excess these days. From small irritations to strong rage, most of us seem to be aggravated about something. And while many connotate anger as a “negative” or “bad” emotion, it can actually be useful, sometimes even motivating. And it is crucial we cultivate the ability to recognize, express, and manage our anger for the sake of our mental health.

The Unpleasant Side of Anger

As we said, anger isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Anger helps us to identify problems or recognize we are hurt. It can motivate us to create necessary change to help us meet our goals and move forward. Anger even helps us stay safe in dangerous situations as bursts of energy during fight or flight response. But anger can become problematic when your anger is:

  • expressed through unhelpful or destructive behavior
  • having a negative impact on your overall mental and physical health
  • becoming your go-to emotion – blocking out your ability to feel other emotions
  • uncontrollable in terms of range – always towards the extreme end of the scale

What Do You Mean By “Unhelpful”?

Not everyone expresses the same emotions in the same ways. Perhaps you show anger in an outwardly and violent way. Do you shout and swear? Slam doors? Hit or throw things? Or perhaps you show inward aggression. Do you punish yourself through restriction or self- harm? Or engage in extreme negative self-talk. Maybe you’re more in the middle, more of a passive-aggressive or non-violent type. Do you ignore people or refuse to speak to them? What about deliberately doing something incorrectly or on-time or not at all? Do you sulk or turn on the sarcasm instead of saying anything directly?

No matter how you show anger, it can be a major problem when it gets out of control.

Anger Feels Like: Mental Effects

While anger feels different for everyone, mental effects may include:

  • Tense, nervous, unable to relax
  • Guilt
  • Resentment
  • Easily irritable
  • “Red mist” vision
  • Humiliation

Anger Feels Like: Physical Effects

While anger feels different for everyone, physical effects may include:

  • a churning feeling in your stomach
  • tightness in your chest
  • an increased and rapid heartbeat
  • legs go weak
  • tense muscles
  • you feel hot
  • you have an urge to go to the toilet
  • sweating, especially your palms
  • a pounding head
  • shaking or trembling
  • dizziness
  • Humiliation

Anger Feels Like: Remember

The ability to reflect upon and recognize these effects is crucial. It gives you the change to think about how you want to react in a situation before doing anything. While it will be challenging at first, this practice of self-awareness will become easier over time.

Controlling Anger in the Long-Term

By thinking about your anger when you aren’t angry, you can aid yourself and begin to control the emotion in the moment. Ways to do this include learning your anger triggers, examining your thought patterns, and evolving your communication skills. Find the patterns that lead to your explosive habits in order to diffuse the situation. Replace the language of your thoughts from “hard absolutes” to softer terms. Look at the ways you communicate (or don’t) and see where you can improve. Sometimes we get angry over outcomes when it turns out we weren’t specific with what we wanted those outcomes to be.

Also, remember to take care of yourself. Our moods and reactions tend to intensify and spiral when we aren’t taking care of ourselves. Avoid drugs and alcohol. Be more active. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables. Get enough good sleep. Develop how you handle stress and build emotional resilience. Sometimes the thing we end up angry about isn’t actually what we are upset or hurt over. Being of a clear mind can help us identify how we got to this point. Plus making sure to take care of ourselves can help us build our coping toolbox and help us through those harder times.

Managing Anger with CPA

Life is going to continually throw us obstacles. What matters most is not what comes our way, but how we cope with it. The next time a challenge comes your way, reflect on this information and recognize if you fall into patterns of disruptive anger. We know you need a toolbox full of skills in order to cope with the challenges that life throws at us. At CPA, we will always encourage patients to explore coping mechanisms that work best for them. However, we also know that a number of those skills come from counseling and different methods of therapy.

Cristina Panaccione and Associates has two locations in the South Hills and one office in Robinson Township. We are currently accepting a limited number of new patients, so check out our videos to learn more about how we can help teach you the skills to cope with anger.

 

Scott Cunningham

For the past 20 years, Scott has been providing a safe and supportive environment where people feel comfortable talking about their depression, fears, stresses, and hopes for life. Having a collaborative relationship with clients is important to him. Scott brings hope and knowledge into his sessions and provides psycho-education to aid in the effectiveness of therapy. He works with clients coping with issues such as, but not limited to anxiety, trauma, depression, partner-relational issues & phase of life transitions. My experience entails couples, adolescent, family and adult counseling. He is certified in Chemical Dependency Counseling, ASIST Suicide Intervention, Crisis Intervention Stress Management, and Comprehensive Crisis Management. He has earned his Master’s Degree in Counseling Education from the University of Pittsburgh and a Bachelor’s of Science in Christian Counseling from Fort Wayne Bible College.

Scott’s goal is to help people struggling with trauma to regain stability and strength as well as insight into their issues. He believes that everyone has an innate ability to grow and learn. He enjoys helping people accomplish that goal and live better and more productive lives.

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