So how do you go about changing a life-long anger problem? ‘Use anger management — that’s any technique that helps you deal with your anger more effectively. It can work wonders,’ says Dr Fox. Most approaches involve identifying what triggers your anger, looking at the way you think when irritated and why, and learning strategies to help you calm down (see ‘Instant calmers’ above). It’s about channeling your anger more constructively rather than stopping seeing red altogether.
`Eliminating your anger would be virtually impossible, not to mention unnecessary,’ says Dr Fox. Life will always have its annoyances, so you need to learn to deal with them. Plus, when dealt with efficiently, anger can even spur you into action. `Ultimately you should feel less angry, less often, and respond to anger more appropriately,’ says Dr Fox. Try practising the strategies below. This may be enough to help you cope, but if your anger stops you from living a normal life, it’s essential to seek professional help.
Anti-anger herbs and vitamins
Lavender is a famous natural calmer of the savage breast. Sprinkle a few drops of essential oil in a warm bath, or inhale the concentrated fragrance, to feel more serene. Camomile is another time-honoured soother – drink it as a tea when you’re riled. Coconut oil has similar calming effect- rub it into hair and body. Rhodiola is used the world over to help combat stress, fatigue and depression, and apparently works by improving the transfer of serotonin through the blood-brain barrier. And taking a vitamin B complex will support your nervous system – vital when you feel under stress.
‘If you deny it, you can’t do anything about it,’ says Weston.
- Identify the problem ‘Look at situations that trigger your anger,’ says Fox, ‘and list possible scenarios that could set you off in the future.’
- Relax According to Weston, learning to relax is often all that’s needed. ‘You’ll be more comfortable with who you are. You’ll also be better equipped to deal with things.’ She recommends t’ai chi or yoga, to help engage the mind and body.
- Change how you think If you’re frequently angry, it’s likely you also think negatively and irrationally. `For example, if someone queuejumps, you assume it’s because they disrespect you, not because they’re in a rush,’ says Dr Fox. Learn not to take things personally, remind yourself anger is unlikely to help, and try to be more rational.
- Be assertive… so says the American Psychological Association: ‘Look at anger as a scale — at one end people express themselves too passively, and at the other, too aggressively. Be assertive — the middle of the scale.’
- Clear it up To let someone know you’re angry without offending or hurting them, BAAM suggests you practise and perfect its ‘clearing process’. This involves confronting the person in a calm and controlled way. Make sure you tell the person you want them to listen, let them give feedback, and don’t expect any particular outcome. Begin sentences with: ‘I feel…/ Because…/ What I want is…/ What I am willing to admit about my behaviour is…’
- Keep a diary BAAM says that diaries are a powerful way to prevent you from internalising your anger. Simply record how you feel. It will help you see the situation more clearly, possibly helping to identify your anger triggers.