We’ve all experienced a variety of strong emotions over the past two and a half years, but one emotion that I see people continue to struggle with is anger. Maybe you have felt angry about the pandemic, political unrest or societal traumas. Anger is a valid and natural response to these types of events, but many people don’t know what to do when they feel angry.
The first way to cope with anger is to recognize that you’re feeling it. Some people want to deny anger because they worry they will lose control or they’ve learned that anger is not an acceptable emotion. Anger can feel like many things, but it commonly manifests as rising body temperature, increased heart rate and a feeling of pressure or tension in the body. Allow yourself to feel it. It’s a natural emotional response.
It’s important to find a healthy outlet for anger. Because it is an emotion that manifests strongly in the body, we often need to use our bodies to release it. Cardio exercise can be a great tool for coping with anger. Additionally, we can engage in something aggressive but safe, such as throwing a stress ball against a wall, hitting a punching bag, screaming into a pillow or chucking ice on the ground to break it. These actions can help us safely respond to anger.
Additionally, it might be helpful to investigate the emotions that underlie anger. Sometimes, anger can be an emotion that manifests on the surface but represents an emotion that is more vulnerable. Anger can represent sadness, grief, mourning, fear, or disbelief, among many other emotions. Connecting with anger can help you connect with other hard feelings that need to be processed.
Anger can be a helpful emotion that indicates that our boundaries have been violated or that an injustice has occurred. It can be a call to action and motivate us to push for something better. When we learn to listen to and respect our anger, we can become empowered.
Bethany Kriegel, LMHC, earned her master’s degree in mental health counseling from Boston College. She has experience working with adults in residential treatment settings, helping those struggling with eating disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder, among other issues.
Thank you for your interest in our Monday Mental Health Moment. Join our mailing list for a weekly newsletter on various mental health topics, and information about upcoming groups or workshops. We promise no spam!