Feel angry? Frustrated? Irritated? Well you are not the only one. We all feel cross from time to time. I get mad. You get mad. Your parents get mad.
Nobody is perfect and sometimes situations we come across and the feelings we have about them can push us to breaking point.
Anger is a normal human emotion but sometimes this very powerful feeling can get the better of you, causing you to lash out and act aggressively. This can make you and everyone around you miserable.
Why do you feel angry?
It is extremely common for teenagers to experience mood swings. Life can feel like an emotional rollercoaster as your body struggles to cope with hormonal ups and downs. You will be seeing changes to your body which can make you more self-conscious than usual. Your parents may be driving you potty or you may be discovering new relationships with friends, boyfriends and girlfriends, which present you with a whole new bunch of questions and feelings.
On top of this, you are likely to be dealing with added pressure at school – exam stresses for example. It may seem like a lot to deal with and occasionally the weight of all this can tip you over the edge.
Louisa, a 16-year-old GCSE pupil from London, is one teenager who finds it difficult to cope.
"I am always arguing with my parents because they won't let me see my boyfriend," she said. "I have been swamped with exams which are really difficult and challenging and I feel like with all the revision I am doing, all the hours I spend at school and all the pressure to spend time with family, I need some kind of release. Usually what happens is I get so worked up I snap."
Louisa's anger has made her lash out at her parents, swear and smash up furniture in her bedroom.
"I know it is wrong but I don't realise it until it is too late," she said. "If I could learn to deal with the anger before it gets out of control it would be better for everyone."
Louisa is not alone. Many of us feel like we have no control over our actions when we see red.
Surprisingly enough, recognising and managing anger is relatively easy and once you have mastered it you can learn how best to deal with those feelings so you do not do or say something you later regret.
What should you do?
There are plenty of anger management techniques you can use but first and foremost you need to assess whether your anger is getting out of control.
If you are experiencing any of the following, it is time to seek help:
- You find yourself getting angry at everything and it leads you to act aggressively or violently, yelling, ranting, hitting, shoving or plotting revenge.
- You feel like your anger is consuming you, constantly bubbling under the surface so you explode at the smallest thing.
- You dwell on things that make you angry. Normal anger is only a temporary emotional response to an unsettling event so if you continue to feel angry long after a situation has passed, this is cause for concern.
- You find yourself doing self-destructive things to cope with your angry feelings, such as reckless driving, physical fighting, drugs and alcohol or unsafe sex.
- You feel so unhappy and angry that you want to end your life or physically hurt someone else.
Anger is a very destructive feeling which can have a big impact on you physically as well as emotionally. If you regularly lose your temper you are more likely to develop more serious problems in later life.
These can include:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Lower back pain
- Stomach upsets
- Eating problems
- Drug, alcohol or other addictions
- Suicidal thoughts
Another thing to remember is that people who have trouble managing their anger often have fewer friends. That’s because friends can find it a struggle to spend time with you if you are always losing your temper or causing a scene.
You may also find that you are getting lower grades in school because your anger is taking up so much of your time and energy you are struggling to concentrate properly.
Learning to cope
If you think about the last few times you became really angry, you might see a pattern in what provokes you.
Ben, 14, from Kent , says: "Most of my frustration happens when I am not allowed to do something I want to do. I can feel rage bubbling inside me and then I just lose my temper and start shouting and hitting.
"I spoke to my parents and my doctor about how I was feeling and why I got so cross and we worked out a system for dealing with it. Now when I am not allowed to do something I want to do, I take some deep breaths before I lose it. Usually after I have calmed down and discussed my frustration with my parents we can come to a compromise – like if I do my homework first I can then go to my friend's house. It has made life a lot easier."
Ben has found the right method for him to deal with the things which make him angry but his method may not work for you. There are lots of different ways to cope and you may have to try a few techniques and find out which one suits you best.
- Remove yourself from the situation you are in when you start to feel angry and think rationally about what has happened before you act aggressively.
- Learn to relax. A lot of people find that adopting simple relaxation techniques such as breathing deeply or listening to calm music, helps them to process angry feelings and deal with them in a better way.
- Work on your problem solving skills and when faced with a difficult situation, learn as much as you can about it before you jump in. There are always more than one way of tackling a problem.
- Take responsibility for your actions and accept that there are consequences to your behaviour. Learn to say sorry when you are in the wrong.
- Pay attention to how your body feels when you are angry. When you notice your body beginning to change, it's time to take control.
- Exercise – get your anger out by taking a walk, going for run, visiting the gym or playing a sport. Exercise stimulates the release of a chemical in the brain called endorphins that make us feel happy.
- Write about your feelings. Some people find that it helps to keep a diary of their emotions, write a poem or song lyrics. You could also try to write a letter to the person who has made you angry explaining what they did to upset you. You don't necessarily have to send it – it could just help you to deal with those feelings in a new way.
- If you feel you are a danger to yourself or others, call for help. You can contact a friend, relative, call your GP or contact one of the helplines who can offer advice. If you are having thoughts of wanting to hurt yourself or hurt other people, it is important to get help immediately.
If you can keep your cool and learn to deal with your anger you’ll soon feel calmer, healthier and happier. And that will stop you getting angry! Before long you’ll be struggling to remember what made you lose your temper in the first place!