Mental Health

How To Reduce Anger, According to Science

Whether it’s fleeting annoyance or a full-fledged rage, uncontrolled anger can create problems in personal and professional spaces. Let’s find techniques for how to deal with anger.

By URLife Team
16 May 2024

We are all familiar with the intense and consuming emotion of anger. It can manifest as a passing irritation or as an overwhelming rage. While anger is a natural and healthy human response, when it spirals out of control and becomes destructive, it can have far-reaching consequences. It can impact our performance at work, strain our relationships, and diminish our overall well-being. Anger can make us feel as though we are at the mercy of a force beyond our control, leaving us at the whim of its unpredictable power.


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Anger, whether it's called wrath, fury, or rage, is an incredibly powerful emotion. While it's natural to experience anger and there are valid reasons for it, it's important to manage and channel your anger effectively for a more balanced and fulfilling life.


Related Post: Anger Management: 5 Ways To Control Anger


Science Behind Anger Issues

A 2023 report in the journal the American Psychological Association points that some individuals are naturally more prone to anger, experiencing heightened and frequent outbursts compared to others. This can manifest as chronic irritability and grumpiness, or through withdrawal, sulking, or physical illness rather than overt displays of anger. Generally, people with a low tolerance for frustration are often easily angered. They perceive inconvenience or annoyance as unjust, leading to intense emotional responses, especially when faced with correction over minor mistakes. Understanding and managing these emotions is crucial for personal and social well-being.


Uncontrolled anger can hurt both physical health and emotional well-being, regardless of its form. Research published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology indicates that anger and hostility can heighten the likelihood of developing coronary heart disease and worsen outcomes for individuals already suffering from heart disease. Moreover, anger can lead to stress-related issues such as insomnia, digestive problems, and headaches. Additionally, it can contribute to violent and risky behaviors, including drug and alcohol abuse. Furthermore, anger can significantly harm relationships with family, friends, and colleagues.


Related Post: A Guide On Anger Management


Is it Okay to ‘Let it All Out’?

What contributes to this behavior? There are several factors at play. One potential cause is genetic or physiological. A 2023 research issued in the Journal of Child and Family Studies shows that some children are born irritable, touchy, and easily angered, with these traits evident from an early age. Another factor may be sociocultural. Anger is often seen as negative, and we're taught to express anxiety or depression but not anger, leading to a lack of constructive ways to handle it. Furthermore, family background also plays a role. Typically, individuals prone to anger come from families that are disruptive, chaotic, and lack emotional communication skills.


Some individuals misinterpret getting angry at small things as a valid excuse to inflict harm on others. However, giving in to anger only serves to intensify aggression and does not lead to a resolution for either party. It is crucial to pinpoint the triggers of your anger and proactively develop strategies to prevent these triggers from causing an emotional overload.


Related Post: 10 Tips To Manage Anger


How To Control Anger

Anger can be triggered by both internal and external events. You might feel angry towards a person, an entity such as the company you work for, or an event like a traffic jam. Wherever the feelings come from, you don’t have to let your anger get the better of you. There are several strategies that can help a person to keep anger at bay.

Here are some techniques to help you stay calm:

1. Pause and introspect

Ever notice how it’s super tough to make good choices when you're feeling really angry or upset? Instead of getting into a sticky situation and then trying to talk yourself out of it, why not just steer clear of it altogether? Keep an eye out for those warning signs that you're starting to get annoyed. When you spot them, take a breather from the situation or try some chill-out techniques to stop yourself from getting even more irritated.


2. Do not dwell on the matter

Another tip: don’t get stuck on repeat. Some folks have this habit of going over and over the thing that ticked them off. But that’s not gonna get you anywhere, especially if you've already sorted out the problem. Instead, try to let go of that past incident. Focus on the good stuff about the person or the situation that got you riled up in the first place. It’ll help you move on and feel better.


3. Change your perspective

When you’re angry, it’s common to exaggerate how bad things are. But you can change that with a trick called cognitive restructuring. It’s like swapping out unhelpful negative thoughts for more sensible ones. So, instead of telling yourself, “Everything is ruined,” try saying, “This is frustrating, but it’s not the end of the world.” Instead, try using logic. Even if you have a good reason to be angry, it’s easy for anger to cloud your judgment. Remind yourself that the world isn’t against you. Do this every time you start feeling mad, and you’ll see things more clearly.


4. Sit back and relax

Chill out. Simple relaxation tricks, like deep breathing and calming thoughts, can really help calm you down when you’re angry. The more you practice these tricks, the easier it gets to use them when you’re feeling mad.

  • Try focused breathing. When you’re angry, your breath tends to be quick and shallow. Instead, practice taking slow, deep breaths. Imagine the air filling up your belly, not just your chest.
  • Use your imagination. Picture a peaceful scene from your memory or make one up in your head. It can help take your mind off what’s making you mad.
  • Give progressive muscle relaxation a shot. This one’s cool—you tense up each muscle group in your body, then let it go. Start with your toes and work your way up to your head. It’s a great way to release tension and calm down.


5. Dodge your triggers

Know your triggers and avoid them if you can. Think about the stuff that gets under your skin. Like, if driving downtown during rush hour always gets you steamed, maybe take the bus instead or go when it’s less hectic. If you and your partner tend to clash at night, save the heavy talks for when you’re both feeling more awake. And if your kid’s messy room drives you bonkers, just close the door and forget about it for a bit. Keeping those triggers out of sight can really help keep your cool.


Related Post: How To Respond To Your Child’s Anger And Resentment


You can’t wipe out anger altogether, but you can change how you handle it and react to stuff that makes you mad. When you work on keeping your anger in check, you and your loved ones will be way happier in the long run.


And if you’re really struggling, talking to a psychologist or a licensed mental health expert from UR.Life can be super helpful. They can help you figure out what’s triggering your anger and come up with a plan to deal with it. It’s all about finding better ways to cope and make things better for yourself and those around you.


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