We all feel angry at some point. Some more than others, and some more frequently. It is a part of being a human being.
No emotion we feel, even those we rather not feel at all, lives in our brains rent-free for no good reason. Every emotion has a purpose useful enough to persist as we evolved into the modern human beings we are today.
The evolutionary purpose of anger is quite simple: it’s the brain’s way of expressing its dissatisfaction with some sort of obstacle, threat, or provocation, and directing action towards removing it.
For the most part, this means we get angry when things aren’t going our way and use our anger to make things go our way instead. In terms of evolution, this is a good way to ensure your survival within the group.
In an ideal world, anger would be unnecessary. There would be no obstacles, threats, or provocations, and so there would be no need to feel dissatisfied with them or act to change them.
But that is not quite how life works in our world. Things to get angry about are always in stock and always on sale.
Anger cannot be eradicated, nor should it be, but knowing how to stay cool even when angry and express it in healthy, productive ways is possible.
How to Manage Your Anger by Yourself?
In general, anger management therapy is the best way to learn how to manage your anger better, and online therapy is a good place to start. However, there are a few things that you can try doing by yourself in between your counseling sessions:
Relaxing your body
The mind affects the body, and so anger causes us to contract our muscles, assume a stiff posture, and have an angry look on our face. Fortunately, this relationship works both ways. If you purposely relax your muscles, loosen your posture, and smile, you are signaling to your mind that anger is not needed right now, and the mind self-corrects.
Doing physical activity
When we’re angry, our brain releases endorphins and stress hormones to prepare us for action. Physical activity is a great way to get them out of our system.
When we breathe deeply, we activate our parasympathetic nervous system – the part of the nervous system in charge of the “rest and digest” process involved in relaxation. When you feel angry, try to purposely breathe slower and more deeply.
Listening to relaxing music
Music has a profoundly strong effect on our mental state. When we listen to relaxing music, our mind understands that we are in a relaxing situation, and our anger begins to dissipate.
If anger is a way to fixate on something unpleasant for the sake of changing it, turning our attention away and focusing on something else, ideally enjoyable, is a good way to de-escalate our anger.
Do I Need Anger Management Therapy?
Depending on your gender and the culture you live in, anger and its expression may be frowned upon and seen as something that shouldn’t be. Anger when caring for someone with dementia, for example, or anger with your child is often seen as unacceptable. This causes many of us to hold it in instead of expressing it, like trying to close the lid on a boiling pot, hoping that the boiling water will just sort itself out somehow.
On the other hand, removing the lid and letting the water frequently burn us and those around us is not a healthy way to deal with anger either. Since anger can impact our relationships significantly and needs to be expressed, the question then becomes: how should we express it?
There are several ways to express our anger towards others, the main ones being:
- Passive aggression – avoiding confrontation while still being lowkey aggressive, such as being intentionally silent or actively ignoring the person
- Open aggression – violent manipulation or assault, either physical or verbal
- Assertive anger – open, assertive communication where anger is allowed to exist and direct the communication without violence
Assertive anger is obviously the healthier and most productive of the three, and the one that allows us to communicate using informative speech instead of anger speech. But in reality, we rarely take a moment to consider which of these we would rather go with. In fact, we often don’t realize just how angry we are until our anger is already expressed, and in some cases, until the damage is already done.
This is especially true for people with low frustration tolerance, who don’t tolerate those unpleasant sources of anger well and are therefore easier to anger – and in greater need of anger management therapy.
Having low frustration tolerance is more common for people who experienced violence or trauma or who grew up in unstable family environments, where healthy communication of emotions, especially anger, was not supported.
It is also known that some people are just born this way, with low frustration tolerance being their default, suggesting that frustration tolerance is genetic to some extent.
If your way to express anger is open aggression or passive aggression, or if you suspect you may have low frustration tolerance, you can benefit greatly from anger management therapy.
How Does Anger Management Therapy Work?
Approximately 75% of people who undergo anger management therapy improve keeping their anger under control and lead happier lives as a result.
How does that happen?
Cognitive behavior therapy, or CBT for short, is one of the most common counseling approaches for anger management therapy and the one your therapist is most likely to use as part of your counseling.
It is centered around observing and modifying negative or harmful patterns in our thoughts and behaviors and creating a new structure in our lives as a result.
CBT utilizes a variety of techniques and strategies with which you essentially train yourself to become more aware of your mental life: what you are feeling and thinking, why you feel and think those things, and what you can do about them.
For example, with cognitive restructuring, you challenge irrational thoughts or thinking patterns and learn to replace them with rational, realistic ones.
Irrational thought patterns that are conducive to anger include taking things too personally and seeing things in black and white. The question of how to manage your anger and frustration becomes difficult to answer with this kind of thinking.
Is Online Therapy Just as Effective?
Online therapy for anger management is a worthwhile alternative to consider, since counseling doesn’t rely a whole lot on the physical presence of you and your therapist.
It helps, of course, but the therapeutic relationship can form just as well without it, and the therapist’s methodology remains the same.
Online therapy is a good solution due to its increased accessibility and affordability. You are not limited by the selection of therapists in your area, don’t need to travel to their office (and get in annoying traffic jams), and can have more flexibility when booking – all at a reduced price.
One of the best aspects of online therapy for anger management is that many of the available platforms let you contact your therapist whenever you want in between sessions.
This allows you to reach out to them when you are angry and helps them get a more accurate understanding of what anger looks like in your particular case, with which they can then help you better.
In Summary About Managing Your Anger
Anger, despite being one of the more straightforward of emotions, is actually quite complex and difficult to keep in check. There is no reason to add further difficulty by doing everything on your own, not when online therapy for anger management is a proven solution.
Whether you’re dealing with anger in a relationship or don’t know how to manage your anger at work, the support of a professional is invaluable. Life is so much better when your fuse is no longer short and volatile.
Here at DoMental, many of our therapists are experienced with anger management therapy and are always ready to help you start living a more relaxed life.