"If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.” ~ Chinese proverb

What is Anger?

Anger is one of the most basic human emotions. It is a physical and mental response to a threat or to harm done in the past. Anger takes many different forms from irritation to blinding rage or resentment that festers over many years.

Anger has three components:

  • Physical - physical reactions normally begin with a rush of adrenaline and responses can include an increased heart rate, blood pressure, and tightening of muscles. This is often known as the 'flight or fight' response.
  • Cognitive - the cognitive experience of anger is how we perceive and think about what is angering us. 
  • Behavioural - this constitutes any behaviour that signals anger, which may include raising one’s voice, slamming doors or storming away.

How might I feel?

Some physical signs of anger include: 

  • increased and rapid heart rate
  • shaking or trembling
  • sweating, especially your palms
  • feeling anxious
  • being resentful
  • feeling guilty
  • being irritated

Some other signs of anger include:

  • becoming sarcastic
  • raising your voice
  • beginning to yell, scream or cry

What can I do?

It is important to learn to understand your anger and it may be useful to know some techniques that can limit the chances of it coming out in a way that is damaging.

Learn your triggers - it may be helpful to keep a diary about the times and situations where you felt angry. You can include answers to the following questions:

  • What were the circumstances?
  • Did someone say or do something to trigger your anger?
  • How did you feel?
  • How did you behave?
  • How did you feel afterwards?

By doing this, you will probably see a pattern emerging. Just recognising what makes you angry may be helpful enough.

Calming techniques - you could try some of the following:

  • Breathing slowly – breathe out for longer than you breathe in and relax when you breathe out.
  • Counting to 10 before you react to anything – this can help give you perspective on what to do.
  • Doing something creative – this can channel your energy and focus towards something else.
  • Listen to calming music – this can help change you mood and slow your physical as well as emotional reactions down.
  • Using relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation.

Be assertive – if you are able to express your anger by talking in an ‘assertive’ way about what has made you angry, this will produce better results for you. Being assertive means standing up for yourself, while still respecting other people and their opinions. Being assertive helps: 

  • make communication easier
  • stop tense situations getting out of control
  • benefit your relationships and self-esteem
  • to keep you physically and mentally well

Where can I go for help?

Your GP is a good place to start to discuss what’s bothering you – identifying the trigger or triggers may be all you need to help manage your anger – but they may also be able to suggest ways you can manage your anger yourself.  If they don’t think they can help then they may refer you for further support. You may be able to get help on the NHS or, if you can afford it, pay for it yourself.  The NHS website is a good place to start for further information about anger and how we can manage this.

Support Line: 01708 765200 Telephone Helpline providing confidential emotional support to Children, Young Adults and Adults

The British Association of Anger Management: 0345 1300 286

Further resources can also be found on the Health and Wellbeing page of our website