We all get angry sometimes. Anger is a normal human emotion, and when mild, anger can sometimes be of benefit to express strong feelings in difficult situations. Anger though becomes a problem when it is expressed in verbally or physically harmful ways. It is a sign that something is out of balance in your life.
Anger comes from your own thoughts, feelings and behaviours rather than other people’s behaviour. Recognising your anger triggers, and consciously choosing how you react are the keys to successful anger management.
When is anger a problem?
When anger outbursts become frequent and uncontrolled, it can lead to problems in your personal, work and study relationships and affect the overall quality of your life. Anger is also a problem when it causes people around you to feel frightened, hurt or feel they cannot talk to you or disagree with you in case you become angry.
Anger and your study
Universities are large places with lots of different people, procedures and rules, and your time there may not always go smoothly. When you are angry about something related to your study, remember that you and the university staff are the people who will make things better.
Stay calm and reasonable when dealing with other people and with yourself. Seek advice about how to best manage the situation from your lecturers, administration staff, or from Student Life and then try to resolve the difficulty. Being aggressive will not help you in any way.
What to do
Anger is not the main problem. The problem lies in how you manage and express it. Managing anger doesn’t mean ignoring your feelings or waiting for them to pass.
What to do when you feel angry, here’s what you can do to manage it:
- consider what you are angry about;
- consider what else you are feeling;
- consider what you want to be different;
- consider who, when, where, and how you can best bring about these changes; and
- act when calm.
It can also be helpful to identify and become more aware of the triggers for your anger, such as situations and people. Once you know your triggers, notice the warning signs your body gives you when you start to feel angry, such as muscle tightness, increased heart rate, feeling hot, etc. Consider strategies that might help to counteract these warning signs, such as slowing down your breathing, visualising things that help you to feel calm, cooling your body down, evaluating your thoughts, temporarily removing yourself from the situation (e.g. going for a walk), or using relaxation skills. Once you’ve identified the strategies that work for you, rehearse them.
If you feel that anger is a problem in your life, Deakin's Counselling service can support students to better manage anger.
More help and advice
Headspace provide information on the effects of anger on mental health.
MensLine Australia provide tips on managing anger, improving relationships and a free counselling service (1300 78 99 78)