How to control anger to get the most out of it

As with other emotions, such as fear, or with anxiety and stress , anger is often identified as something negative, destructive and that will forcefully harm us, both us and those around us. However, evolution did not endow us with the ability to get forcefully angry by chance, but because it has, in its fair measure, a benefit for our survival. The problem arises when we feel anger at more times than necessary and, especially, when we are unable to control it.

Why do we get angry and what happens in our body?
Anger and anger, which is a more explosive and powerful anger, occur when something external has happened that is not what we want, it bothers us … In the past , our brain interpreted this as a threat and prepared us for the fight : our face changes and it becomes more ‘fierce’ to scare the adversary, the sympathetic nervous system is activated, the heart rate increases, breathing accelerates … On the other hand, the brain focuses on surviving, defending itself, and we become more impulsive and irrational.

We prepare now to act fast, without thinking. This helped our ancestors survive in many dangerous and threatening situations, and for this reason, anger is not bad in itself.The problem occurs when, today, situations that are not a real threat provoke in our brain the same reactions as if they were and make us, at certain times, irrational and aggressive, both physically and verbally. However, if we know how to handle anger, not only will it not become destructive, but we can get something good out of it.

What are the benefits of anger?
Since anger is not bad in itself, as is the case with other emotions, we can only learn to control it, channel it so that it does not end in aggression and, incidentally, use it to our advantage. And it is that, emotions related to it, such as frustration or irritation, can also bring us advantages. These are some of them.

A couple arguing.

What are emotion triggers? How can we identify them and keep them at bay?
• More motivation . A well-channeled anger ‘puts the batteries’, mobilizes us and gives us the push we need to change the things we do not like, removes mental barriers … In addition, it provides us with a very useful extra strength, for example, in sports competitions.

• Make us more creative. Outbursts of anger, accompanied by frustration, help us to be more creative, to commit ourselves more to a task and to find solutions to problems more quickly and with more original ideas. Of course, that ‘spark’, like anger, dissipates quickly.

• Helps us express anger. As long as it is not expressed with physical or verbal aggressiveness, anger helps us to express our anger and to communicate how we feel, our opinions, if we consider that something is unfair … This, in the long run, in addition to making us more assertive, helps to improve our relationship with others.

Are there different types of jealousy? Is there anything positive about this basic human emotion?
In order for anger to work in our favor, instead of avoiding it and, especially, giving it free rein, we have to learn to handle it, because it is rarely advisable to let ourselves be carried away by it, as it will lead to aggressiveness, hostility and harm to the people who surround us and ourselves. To handle it, we can carry out some recommendations:

• Identify the cause . Sometimes, if we stop to think about what causes us anger, we realize that, in reality, it is not that important and it helps us to get carried away.

• Try not to speak, at least without thinking and before calming down a bit. Impulse control is overridden by anger and we can say many things that we will later regret.

• Be alert for the first signs of a rage episode before it becomes too big and intense and harder to control.

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• Try to divert attention, think to something different … For example, humor tends to relieve tension quite a bit.

• Use some relaxation technique , such as taking deep breaths, running your hands under cold water, breathing fresh air, singing, shaking your wrists, counting back from 10, putting your palm on your forehead, forcing a laugh …

• Try to distance yourself from your thoughts and emotions: Breathe, give yourself time for your emotions to cool down.

• Once the episode of anger is over, instead of ignoring it, analyze it, look for the cause, an explanation… and think about how you would like to have acted instead of letting yourself go. It is also helpful to speak your mind and express your frustration in a calmer way.

To help control anger episodes before they occur we can:

• Playing sports is a good way to release tension and energy.

• Become aware of your reactions, language, how you speak … To achieve this, meditation and mindfulness can be very useful.

•Rest well. By giving yourself short breaks during the day, especially in times of stress, you will help prevent tension from building up and ending in an episode of uncontrollable anger.

• Seek help if you need it. Uncontrolled anger can be very destructive. A psychologist will help you control it if you just can’t.