We all feel angry sometimes, often when there’s a good reason. Uncontrolled anger can be harmful, but you can learn to manage it.
What is anger?
Anger is one of a range of emotions that we all experience. It’s ok and perfectly normal to feel angry about things that you have experienced.
Anger can start to become a problem when you express it through unhelpful or destructive behaviour – either towards yourself or other people. It can also contribute to you developing mental health problems, like depression and anxiety, or make existing problems worse.
If you find yourself doing these sorts of things, it might be a sign that you need some support:
- hitting or physically hurting other people
- shouting at people
- breaking things
- losing control
- spending time with people who get you into trouble
- constantly ending relationships or getting in trouble at school or work
Do you often find yourself being aggressive towards other people?
Are you frightening or worrying yourself, or those around you with your behaviour?
Do you tell yourself that you hate yourself, that you’re useless, that you don’t deserve things?
Do you shut yourself off from the world, deny yourself things that make you happy or self-harm?
Do you behave passive-aggressively towards other people? Do you ignore people, refuse to speak to them, or are you often sarcastic or sulky?
Why do I feel angry?
Everyone feels angry sometimes – and we all have different triggers. You may experience anger in situations where you feel powerless, or frustrated. This could be because of problems at home or school, or if you’ve fallen out with a friend, or had a break-up with a partner. You might start to feel angry if you feel misunderstood by people around you, like your parents, or if you are confused about your sexuality.
But sometimes, you can feel angry and not know why. This could be the result of lots of stress and different pressures building up around you. Or it could be because of something that happened to you in the past, like neglect or abuse. Recognising the types of situations which trigger your anger is the first step to figuring out what is causing it, and finding a way to make things better.
How can anger affect me?
When we get angry, it can be hard to think things through – especially if that anger seems overwhelming or uncontrollable. And if we feel angry a lot of the time – in other words, if we get into constant patterns of thinking angry thoughts about ourselves or others – it’s hard to take a step back and communicate in a healthy and productive way.
We may tense up and clench our teeth. Our hearts might pump faster, our stomachs might churn, and we may clench our fists. These are useful early warning signs that we are getting wound up.
Sometimes, it can be difficult to recognise just how much anger you are feeling, and how it is affecting you. This might be because you have lots of things going on in your life.
After getting angry about something you might start to feel guilty about it, and this can make you feel worse.
Issues with anger can lead to risky behaviour, refusing to go to school, isolation, eating problems, depression, and self-harm.
Drinking too much alcohol or taking drugs might be seen as ways of coping with anger issues, but remember they will make you feel worse and are likely to create bigger problems later.
"Think of the bigger picture: will this bother you in a year? Try and say why you're angry, and remember that time alone to calm yourself down is okay. Take some time to think about how your actions are affecting others, and try to remember people are usually trying to help you!"
"When you're angry, try some deep breathing techniques or listening to music. You could also do some colouring, running, or any form of exercise."
"Figure out why you reacted like that so you can recognise it next time before it's too late."
How can I manage my anger?
Over time, you’ll learn to manage your anger better yourself. When you feel angry or stressed you can try out different relaxation techniques to help you calm down, such as:
- going for a walk
- listening to music
- taking deep breaths
- doing some exercise
- doing something you enjoy – skateboarding, painting, swimming
- talking to someone about how you are feeling
- playing computer games to take your mind off it
- reading a book
- having a hot bath
If you have a problem with someone, think about what you want to say beforehand and how you want to get your point across. Listen to their point of view and calmly put yours across too.
If you feel your anger levels rising, walk away from a situation to calm down, rather than saying or doing something you might regret.
Talk about how you are feeling. Parents or carers and other family members, such as grandparents, may be good listeners. Your close friends and other family friends may be able to help.
At school, find a teacher, mentor, counsellor or school nurse who you trust. In the community, social workers, youth workers and leaders will also be able to listen.
You can also see your GP. They may be able to suggest some treatment or recommend a counsellor.
You could try saying:
- “I’ve been feeling really wound up recently and I’m starting to think something might be wrong. Can I talk to you about it?”
- “I want to talk to you about something that’s been bothering me.”
Writing it down
Keep a note of how you’re feeling:
- What happened that made you angry?
- How did you respond? Did it help?
- How did you feel afterwards?
- What else is on your mind? Is there something making you feel worried, scared or alone?
Your GP may refer you to a mental health specialist where you would talk about your feelings and behaviour. The specialist may advise you how to deal with these. They may also suggest counselling if there are problems or things that happened in the past that may be causing your anger issues now.
If counselling is your best option, the specialist arranges a series of confidential one-to-one sessions with a counsellor or therapist.
You can talk with them about concerns or problems you might have. The counsellor will help you work through your issues and give you skills and strategies to deal with your anger better.
later. You can learn to manage your anger and find techniques that work for you.
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