Connection Between Anxiety & Anger
Anger and anxiety are defensive mechanisms with a bidirectional relationship, meaning anger can make anxiety worse, and vice versa. These high-arousal emotions trigger a chain of automatic physiological reactions that our body uses to defend and preserve us. If left untreated, they can both worsen over time, causing harmful effects to our physical and mental health.2
Research on the connection between anxiety and anger continues to be a work in progress, however there is emerging literature focusing on specific ways anger and anxiety are correlated.
Here are examples of studies on the connection between anger and anxiety:
Embrace Your Inner Artist
Getting creative is found to be one of the best ways to deal with anger and stress. If youre feeling unhappy, expressing your emotions through art can often prove much more effective than talking through them aloud. Art therapy, a form of expressive therapy that uses creative techniques, is used widely today as a tool for combatting stress, anxiety, and depression, consequently improving ones mental well-being.
Avoid Stress And Anger Management In The Workplace
There is no way you will able to work when you are angry. So you need to calm down and dont let your emotions to control you. You need to have patient, whatever people are saying about you dont take it personal and put it to your heart. Just walk away when you realize what they are saying might upset you.
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How To Control Your Anxiety
Because anger, in this case, is an anxiety problem, you’ll need to learn to control your anxiety altogether if you want to stop feeling angry.
There are several effective stress reduction strategies, including:
- Deep Breathing
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation
All forms of exercise are crucial for controlling both anxiety and anger as well, because they’re used to reduce pent up energy and frustration in a way that few other things can.
But you’ll also need to focus on simply learning to understand how to cope with anxiety and stress in a way that works for you. Coping is your brain’s ability to simply get over a problem without making it a big deal. It’s something that can be learned, but only if you are able to recognize the causes of your anxiety and how to adapt to them.
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Factors Affecting Anger And Stress
Being under anger and stress for a long time will damage our health. It can raise our blood pressure and cause other problems that affect our body and emotions.It will also have a negative impact on our relationships. In addition, we can also develop negative habits to deal with excessive anger and stress that become more and more difficult to control over time. Any of these effects can cause more anxiety.
In order to start managing the adverse effects of stress and anger, we need to look at how these emotions affect our lives. Stress leads to anger, which leads to greater stress. Neither feeling is healthy, but we should not try to eliminate them. Instead, we should try to control anger and stress by understanding the factors that affect anger and stress and better managed coping strategies.
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Identifying And Dealing With Anger
Identifying anger, is the first step towards anger management, including pinpointing the initial cause and any tell-tale signs that you are becoming angry. Your breathing may start to become heavier, due to the increase in heart rate, typically associated with the onset of anger. You may even begin to feel the tension rising throughout the body, particularly around your shoulders and the back of your neck. Removing yourself from the situation, as soon as you recognise youre feeling angry is essential, as, often, high levels of emotion can lead to verbal outbursts that you will later regret. If you are at home or in a public place, simply remove yourself from the situation for a while, taking time to calm down. If you find yourself experiencing anger at work, its highly important that you remain professional even if deep down, youre burning with rage taking a few minutes alone to go to the bathroom will allow time to take a breather before returning in a cool, collected manner once the situation has dispersed.
After removing yourself from the situation, its important to help your mind and body to calm down. Count to ten while you begin to regulate your breathing by breathing in lightly, and out heavily. Sometimes, screaming aloud may feel necessary to let out any pent up emotion as long as this is done in private if possible, there is no harm to this method.
Change Your Thought Distortions
Armed with the information gathered in your Anger Timeline, you can start to identify any faulty thinking and beliefs that may be contributing to your anger.
Common cognitive distortions include:
- Polarized thinking: Thinking that tends to be in extremes
- Overgeneralization: One experience of a situation means it will always be like that
- Personalization: You take things personally that have nothing to do with you, or you assume responsibility for events outside of your control
- Mind-reading: Assumption that you know what someone else is thinking or why theyre making certain choices. If youre in a position of power, this can lead to gaslighting
- Should statements: I should, He shouldnt, She should/shouldnt. These are all the beginnings of thoughts that usually lead to negative conclusions.
- Emotional reasoning: The assumption that emotions are facts )e.g., you feel like someone doesnt like you, so it must be true)
- Mental filtering & discounting the positive: This happens when you filter out the positive in favor of the negative to support a negative conclusion
- Labeling: Reducing yourself or someone else to a single negative label 11
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What Are The Dangers Of Suppressed Anger
Suppressed, unexpressed anger can be an underlying cause of anxiety and depression. Anger that is not appropriately expressed can disrupt relationships, affect thinking and behavior patterns, and create a variety of physical problems. Chronic anger has been linked to health issues such as high blood pressure, heart problems, headaches, skin disorders, and digestive problems. In addition, poorly managed anger can be linked to problems such as alcohol and substance abuse, crime, emotional and physical abuse, and other violent behavior.
Negative Thought Patterns That Can Trigger Anger
You may think that external factorsthe insensitive actions of other people, for example, or frustrating situationsare causing your anger. But anger problems have less to do with what happens to you than how you interpret and think about what happened.
Common negative thinking patterns that trigger and fuel anger include:
- Overgeneralizing. For example, You ALWAYS interrupt me. You NEVER consider my needs. EVERYONE disrespects me. I NEVER get the credit I deserve.
- Obsessing over shoulds and musts. Having a rigid view of the way a situation should or must go and getting angry when reality doesnt line up with this vision.
- Mind reading and jumping to conclusions. Assuming you know what someone else is thinking or feelingthat they intentionally upset you, ignored your wishes, or disrespected you.
- Collecting straws. Looking for things to get upset about, usually while overlooking or blowing past anything positive. Letting these small irritations build and build until you reach the final straw and explode, often over something relatively minor.
- Blaming. When anything bad happens or something goes wrong, its always someone elses fault. You tell yourself, lifes not fair, or blame others for your problems rather than taking responsibility for your own life.
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Sometimes Anger Can Lead To Serious Problems In Our Life
Please consider getting help if anger is damaging your life in any of the following ways:
Anger interferes with family life, job performance or school performance
Anger leads you to lose control of your actions or what you say
Anger prevents you and your loved ones from enjoying life
Anger leads you to act in a threatening or violent manner towards yourself, other people, animals or property
Ask your physician or trained health professional about anger management courses and other helpful resources in your community.
About the authors
Canadian Mental Health Association BC Division helps people access the community resources they need to maintain and improve mental health, build resilience, and support recovery from mental illness. CMHA BC has served BC for over 60 years.
Anxiety Canada promotes awareness of anxiety disorders and increases access to proven resources. Visit www.anxietycanada.com.
Select sources and additional resources:
Visit www.keltymentalhealth.ca for Kelty Mental Health’s information and resources on anger for children, youth and families.
Visit www.cmha.ca/documents/feeling-angry for the Feeling Angry brochure from the Canadian Mental Health Association.
Patterson, R.J. . The Assertiveness Workbook: How to Express Your Ideas and Stand up for Yourself at Work and in Relationships. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger.
Deffenbacher, J.L. . Cognitive-behavioral conceptualization and treatment of anger. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 18, 212-221.
Write A Dear John Letter To Anger
Start your letting with Dear Anger. Then, thank your anger for how it has helped you. As you look back over life and childhood, you may see how your struggle with anger originated as a mechanism to help you cope and survive. Acknowledging how anger has helped you is an important step in moving on.
The next paragraph will address how anger has shifted to become a problem for you. You will identify the issues that you have in your life and relationships because of your anger. The last paragraph will be you breaking up with anger. Writing such a letter can have a very cathartic effect.
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Is There A Cure For Anger
Anger is not something you can get rid of. It is a normal, healthy emotion shared by all people everywhere. When it gets out of hand, though, anger can become destructive and lead to all sorts of personal problems.
While you cant cure anger, you can manage the intensity and effect it has upon you. Effective therapeutic strategies exist for managing anger and can help you become less reactive. You can even learn to develop more patience in the face of people and situations you cannot control.
How To Control Stress Anger And Depression
Life is unpredictable, and you will often face hardship and disappointment. During such times it is quite common to become tense. But excessive tension can lead to stress, anger, and depression which is harmful to your body. This article will share some strategies to control your anxiety, anger, and depression.
Practice Breathing Technique
Breathing is considered the most effective technique for managing your anger, depression, and stress. It is a useful method of overcoming your anxiety, and a well-recognised psychological counsellor recommends this method. There are many breathing techniques to calm yourself. It would be best if you settled down with a breathing technique that you are comfortable with.
Let the Stress and Anger Go Away From Your Body
Expose your emotions out while you are exercising. Workout in the morning, involve yourself in some physical activity, it helps to release good hormones from your body. However, you should avoid doing some exercise that consists of the expression of anger.
Make Yourself Calm
Practising breathing techniques helps you to visualise yourself calm. After taking a few deep breaths, you can close your eyes and picture yourself calm. To do this, you need to relax your body and imagine yourself in a tension-free situation by making your mind calm and focused. You can take it one step further by creating a mental image of what it feels when you are calm. Next time when you are angry, imagine the picture again.
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Let Go Of Angry Thoughts
“Try to let go of any unhelpful ways of thinking,” says Isabel. “Thoughts such as ‘Its not fair,’ or ‘People like that shouldnt be on the roads,’ can make anger worse.”
Thinking like this will keep you focused on whatever it is thats making you angry. Let these thoughts go and it will be easier to calm down.
Try to avoid using phrases that include:
- should or shouldn’t
- must or mustn’t
- ought or oughtn’t
- not fair
Teaching Children How To Express Anger
Expressing anger appropriately is a learned behaviour. Suggestions on helping your child to deal with strong feelings include:
- Lead by example.
- Let them know that anger is natural and should be expressed appropriately.
- Treat your childs feelings with respect.
- Teach practical problem-solving skills.
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Create An Anger Timeline
For this exercise, draw six columns on a piece of paper. The headings of each column will be as follows: Trigger, Behavior, Emotional Scale, Thoughts, Sensations, Impulses. Each day, write down a triggering event and log how you reacted in the Behavior column.
Write what emotions you were experiencing under Emotional Scale, along with how intensely you felt that emotion on a scale of 1-10. Try to remember what thoughts were going through your head immediately before, during, and after the event. Log those under Thoughts.
Next, under Sensations, include whatever data you collected from your five physical senses. If you have impulses or instincts log them under Impulses. This practice can help you build empathy for yourself and more awareness about the reactions that need work.
Focus On Managing Yourself
When someone we love is angry with us, often we feel compelled to appease and soothe them as quickly as possible. But we ultimately cant control anyones thoughts, behaviors, or emotionswere only tasked with managing our own. Being calm is much more effective than trying to calm someone else, and people who can stay focused on managing their own anxiety and reactions give the other person the space to do the same. So instead of saying, Please calm down!, try taking a few deep breaths and slowing your own heart rate.
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Second Anger May Very Well Be The Source Of Anxiety And Depression
Nobody knows how many times they are irritated or angry in a day. Not everyone, though, keeps their rage inside. Some people express their anger harshly, yet the worst thing a person can do is keep their stress to themselves. Anger is bad for your health in a variety of ways. For starters, it increases the likelihood of getting heart disease, stroke etc. Second, anger may very well be the source of anxiety and depression.
In a news report published in the Dainik Bhaskar newspaper, Dr Rajneesh Malhotra from the Max Institute of Heart and Vascular Sciences has given some tips on anger management. He says that identifying the reasons behind your anger and making some lifestyle changes can help.
Here are some tips that will help you manage your anger issues.
Three Steps To Identify And Control Anger
There are many situations or events that can make you prone to anger. Like long lines, traffic, lewd comments, exhaustion, etc. These are called triggers”. The more triggers you can identify, the easier it will be to control your anger.
Anger has a direct effect on the body. Some signs include an increase in heart rate or the face turning red. Keep an eye on these physical changes.
Sleep And Exercise