Anger, often deemed the fiery emotion, is a powerful force that can leave us feeling both empowered an overwhelmed. While its intensity can be daunting, understanding and managing anger are essential skills for navigating life’s challenges.

Taming the beast

Anger is a natural and instinctive emotional response to perceived threats, injustices, or frustrations. It triggers a surge of adrenaline, preparing us for action in the face of conflict. Anger can range from mild irritation to intense rage, depending on the situation and individual temperament.

It’s essential to recognise that anger itself is not negative; rather, it is the way we express and manage it that determines its impact.

In fact, anger can be a constructive and useful emotion in several ways:

  1. It’s a self-preservation tactic: Anger signals when our boundaries have been crossed, helping us protect ourselves from harm or mistreatment.
  2. It’s a signal for change: Anger can motivate us to address injustices, driving us to seek resolutions and positive change in our lives and society.
  3. It can help us be assertive: Expressing anger assertively can strengthen communication and ensure our needs are heard and respected.
  4. It’s an emotional release: Allowing ourselves to feel and express anger provides emotional release and prevents it from festering.

The problem arises when we don’t learn how to manage anger effectively. Unresolved anger can lead to poorer health and social outcomes, such as:

Poor physical Health: Unhealthy anger can lead to a range of physical health issues. Chronic anger and stress can put a strain on the cardiovascular system, increasing the risk of heart problems. It can also weaken the immune system, making us more susceptible to illnesses.

Poor mental health: Prolonged anger can negatively impact mental health, leading to feelings of anxiety, depression, and hopelessness. It may also contribute to the development of mental health disorders, such as adjustment disorders or disruptive mood dysregulation disorder.

Relationship strain: Unhealthy anger can strain relationships with friends, family, and colleagues. Explosive anger outbursts or persistent irritability can alienate loved ones and create a hostile atmosphere in the workplace.

Reduced decision-making ability: When anger overwhelms rational thinking, you may make impulsive decisions or engage in risky behaviour, which can lead to undesirable consequences.

Legal and financial consequences: In extreme cases, uncontrolled anger can result in aggressive behaviour and physical altercations, leading to legal consequences such as assault charges. Moreover, anger-driven actions may cause financial loss, damage property, or result in job loss.

How to deal with anger healthily

Because anger is often perceived as being ‘bad’, it can be difficult to talk about constructively – which can lead to further anger and inappropriate coping strategies.

Learning how to cope if you struggle with rage can be difficult – but there are ways you can learn to manage your anger.

Here are our tips to help you control anger when it flares:

  1. Recognise the warning signs: If you can recognise when you start to feel angry, you’ll be in a good place to manage it.
  2. Practice deep breathing: When anger surges, take deep breaths to activate the body’s relaxation response, promoting calmness and clarity.
  3. Take a timeout: If you feel overwhelmed with anger, step away from the situation to cool down and regain composure before responding.
  4. Try a distraction: If you’re in a situation where you feel upset or angry, it can be helpful to channel your feelings by going for a walk or writing them down.
  5. Acknowledge your feelings: Acknowledging that you feel angry and identifying the emotions you’re feeling can sometimes help to reduce the intensity. Saying “I’m angry right now” or “I’m feeling frustrated and annoyed” can be the first step in understanding and resolving your feelings of anger.
  6. Express yourself constructively: Use “I” statements to express your feelings and needs without blaming others. Practice active listening when others express their anger.
  7. Seek support: Talk to trusted friends, family, or professionals about your feelings to gain perspective and emotional support.

It’s helpful to remember that while it can be uncomfortable, it’s possible to learn to manage anger in positive ways. Anger management techniques, therapy, and self-awareness can all play a significant role in promoting healthier expressions of emotion and fostering overall well-being for both yourself and others.

Managing anger at work

Workplaces play a vital role in supporting employees to deal with anger in healthy ways, fostering a positive and productive work environment. Here are some strategies that organisations can implement to help employees manage their anger effectively:

Anger management training: Offer anger management workshops or training sessions to employees. These programs can provide valuable insights into recognising triggers, coping mechanisms, and effective communication skills to manage anger constructively.

Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs): Provide access to EAPs that offer confidential counselling services. EAPs can support employees in addressing underlying issues that may contribute to anger and offer guidance on healthy coping strategies.

Stress reduction initiatives: Implement stress reduction programs, such as mindfulness sessions, to help employees manage stress and prevent it from escalating into anger.

Open communication: Promote open and transparent communication at work. Encourage employees to express their concerns or frustrations in a safe and supportive environment, fostering a culture of trust and understanding.

Conflict resolution training: Offer conflict resolution training to employees and managers. Equipping individuals with the skills to address conflicts constructively can reduce instances of anger and improve working relationships.

Supportive leadership: Train managers to be empathetic and supportive leaders. Managers who actively listen and show understanding can create an environment where employees feel comfortable discussing their feelings and seeking help.

Clear Policies and Procedures: Establish clear policies and procedures for handling workplace conflicts or instances of anger. Employees should be aware of the avenues available for addressing their concerns.

Workplace Culture: Cultivate a positive and inclusive workplace culture that values open dialogue, collaboration, and respect. A healthy workplace culture can foster emotional wellbeing and reduce tensions that may lead to anger.