What is anger?
Experiencing anger is a natural human reaction to threat and can be a good way of protecting yourself. However, if your anger is frequently excessive or impacts negatively on you or others around you, it may leave you feeling guilty and full of regret. Learning to manage and express feelings better can improve your life and the lives of the people around you.
If it is left unresolved, anger has been found to affect us both physically and mentally. Excessive, frequent or disproportionate anger has been linked to high blood pressure, depression, poor sleep, anxiety and heart attacks. Keeping your anger bottled up can be just as damaging to your health.
In addition, chronic anger can cause problems between friendships and lead to breakdowns in relationships. Anger, when displayed in an unhelpful way, can also have a negative impact on those you care about. In particular, aggressive or explosive anger can have a negative impact on children.
How do I recognise anger?
Some signs of anger include:
Being able to tolerate other people’s opinions and control your emotions will mean people are more likely to listen to and communicate with you more meaningfully. This may improve your relationships with others, and also help you to get your point across in a way that people are more likely to listen to and understand. Learning how to manage your anger in more helpful and productive ways can also give provide you with a big boost to your self-worth. Having a better awareness of how anger affects you can help you to take the first steps in calming yourself down.
But I can’t stop myself getting angry…
Learning how to express your opinions and needs without resorting to either verbal or physical angry reactions is within your control. You may find that the situation you are in may be out of your control, but how you respond is a matter of choice. You can learn new techniques to help you express your feelings constructively.
Invest in your own recovery
It might be worth asking yourself what the underlying reasons are behind your anger in case it is masking other issues, for instance hurt, guilt, worry, insecurity, embarrassment or vulnerability.
Take a moment to consider the following:
Seek support to earn how to express the things that are making you angry assertively. A good tip is to make time to plan what you want to say. Be specific. Listen to the other person’s view. Explain what you would like from them. Breathe steadily to remain calm. It's okay to take some time out to step back from the discussion if you feel your anger is bubbling up too high or you begin to feel out of control. Simply tell the other person you need some “time out” to clear your head. Take some time to try and calm your mind or engage in an activity that is enjoyable or relaxing. When you are feeling calmer, return to the conversation later on. Get support. Talk through the situation with others and ask for help, either from people you trust or via helplines. You may then see improvements in your life and the lives of those affected by your anger.
As well as Help for Heroes Hidden Wounds, support can also be accessed via your GP. They can link you in with courses or counselling services in your area that are right for you.
You can also get help from Men's Advice Line on 0808 801 0327 or Mankind on 01823 334 244 with issues of domestic abuse or violence. If you are worried that your own behaviour has become abusive, you can contact Respect on 0808 802 4040.
Support can also be sought from Refuge, Women's Aid or the Alternatives to Violence Project, if you feel that you are affected by someone else’s anger and it is leading to violence or threatening behaviour within the home. You can also access support from Hidden Wounds if you are affected by someone else’s mental health, including if they have issues with anger.
If anger regularly controls you, rather than you being able to control your anger, then support is available. Hidden Wounds is a free and confidential service run by Help for Heroes that offers treatment and support for people wishing to learn how to manage their anger better. You can reach them by calling 0808 2020 144 (free from UK landlines) or by requesting more information from them here.
Self-help to reduce anger
The University of Exeter are running a study and need 30+ volunteers to help test a new internet self-help to reduce anger.
If you are eligible to take part you will be assigned by chance to either receive the self-help immediately, or after a 12-week wait.
To find out more and sign up visit: https://survey.ex.ac.uk/index.php/814385?lang=en
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