In a recent report by the Mental Health Foundation, more than one in 10 people polled claimed that they had trouble controlling their temper, while 38 per cent of UK motorists confessed they regularly felt angry when driving.
Yet, getting angry isn’t necessarily a bad thing, say experts. “Anger is actually a normal and even healthy emotion – if it’s dealt with in a positive way,” says Mike Fisher, founder of The British Association of Anger Management (angermanage.co.uk). For instance, it can bring about change and tackle injustice.
But when anger is out of control – when it occurs frequently and intensely, and interferes with thinking, feeling, behaviour and relationships – it can have a detrimental effect on the mind and body.
A Canadian study found that getting very angry more than doubles the risk of having a heart attack within an hour. Uncontrolled anger has also been linked to digestive problems, skin complaints, headaches, infections, colds, flu, exhaustion, high blood pressure and early death.
Here’s how to work out your “anger style” and learn to keep a lid on that temper…
Can’t express anger.
Is this you? You hate making a scene, find it hard to say no and are usually the first to say sorry. Your behaviour stems from a lack of confidence and you’re afraid to verbalise your anger in case you offend others.
“Imploders are terrified of being rejected so they shelve their anger,” explains Mike. “But you can only do this for so long – it’s like a cola bottle. If you shake it up enough, it’s eventually going to explode.”
Many women have been taught that being angry is unacceptable and that to lose your temper meant you were a bad person or a bad parent, explains parenting expert Sue Atkins (sueatkinsparentingcoach.com/). “So, they have learnt to swallow their anger rather than express it healthily.”
But if you don’t express your anger, it can lead to frustration, resentment, bitterness, a sense of hopelessness and depression, none of which are healthy for you or your family long-term, warns Sue.
There can also be physical aspects to suppressed anger. Skin ailments, headaches and obsessive compulsive disorders.
Deal with your anger:
l Practise saying no. Start with pushy cold callers and build up to the ungrateful colleague. You’ll realise that people don’t bite and you’ll earn respect.
l Don’t fantasise. As tempting as it is, don’t imagine throttling whoever is annoying you. It just reinforces a negative state of mind.
l Use humour to release tensions. Lightening up can help diffuse tension. Don’t use sarcasm as it can make things worse.
l “Your goal is to be more assertive – without being aggressive,” says Mike. “It’s important to be able to say, ‘This is what I want. This is how I feel. This is what I think.’”
Read more of my advice in The Daily Express here