Anger is a normal human emotion. It comes up for everyone from time to time, and can even be a useful emotion. (Healthy anger can help us to make positive changes in our lives, motivate us to act, and can give us strength.) Anger is different for everyone and what triggers anger in some people won’t necessarily affect other people at all. Some of the common reasons people experience anger are:
- feeling threatened or under attack
- feeling disrespected
- feelings of injustice, as though they are being treated unfairly
- feeling powerless
- feeling tired, rundown and overwhelmed
Most of the time when people experience anger it is a temporary, passing emotion. It generally passes once the situation is resolved or the trigger is removed. Sometimes however, anger can be more frequent, unhelpful and damaging. If this is a feeling you can relate to, you might find your anger is having a negative impact on your life and on those around you. Uncontrolled anger can lead to problems at work, in personal relationships and in your social groups. The relationship between stress, anxiety, and anger is quite complex, but is worth understanding if anger is getting the better of you. So if anger feels like it’s close to the surface all the time, this is often the result of underlying anxiety and stress. While for some people anxiety can lead to behaviour that’s often thought of as shy and withdrawing, for other people if can cause feelings of anger and aggression. There are significant ways that stress and anxiety are linked to anger. For example:
The ‘fight or flight’ response
Anxiety is behind the activation of the fight or flight response. It’s designed to keep you safe from danger – as a response to threatening situations. This anxietyis meant to occur when you’re faced with a fear-inducing situation. However, anxiety can also occur when this response is essentially ‘malfunctioning’. This can mean that the body can feel suddenly primed to respond, even in inappropriate situations.
Stress is known to cause aggression
For some people, depending upon their natural tendencies, when they experience a stressor such as problems at work, or challenging finances, they may have a physical response that primes their body for aggression. While some evidence suggests that the hormone released by stress (cortisol) reduces aggression, stress itself has been linked to an increase in aggression. So it might be time to look at what your underlying triggers are.
Changes to your routine
People suffering from anxiety and stress often become very strict in their routines. It’s natural when they feel most comfortable when their environment is stable and predictable. This can mean though that changes to their routine can result in extra stress, and extra outbursts of anger.
Anxiety can be an underlying cause here. Irritability can quickly escalate into anger, so if you can relate to this its probably time to start talking to someone about the types of things that might be making you feel stressed and irritated.
Are you taking care of your physical health?
Anxiety over an extended period of time can affect your sleeping habits, your energy levels and your interest in your own personal health. Take time out to relax before bed, to prepare healthy meals and to actively look after your own wellbeing. Living with too much anger isn’t easy. It can affect both your physical and mental health, and can be damaging for the important relationships around you. If you are dealing with anger, it is worth looking in to whether anxiety and stress are at the root of it. Discussing it with a professional health carer will give you the chance to overcome what’s bothering you and they can assist you in finding the best anger management service in your local area.