Written by DiveThru Team
Reviewed by Natalie Asayag MSW, LCSW
Feeling Angry: A Guide To Your Emotions
Published Dec 22nd, 2020 & updated on Dec 7th, 2021
Think of a tea kettle on a stove (hear us out, all of you electric kettle users – the metaphor still works!). The hotter the water becomes, the closer it gets to boiling. Anger is a lot like that. When we sit on these angry feelings for a while, eventually we get to a boiling point. And then there’s the risk of getting burned. Feeling angry is like leaving a kettle on the stove and letting it get to boiling point, maybe even past that.
Okay, enough metaphors for now. We all know what it’s like to feel angry AF. Maybe your friend bailed on your plans last minute after you spent the afternoon getting ready. You could be experiencing a fit of road rage after someone totally cuts you off in traffic! Or your mom won’t stop nagging you about finding a plus one to your cousin’s wedding, after you’ve told her a thousand times you’re totally happy to attend single. It could be that your annoying neighbour keeps snagging your parking spot, even after you’ve asked so politely if they could leave you some room!! Whatever it is, it’s got you raging and you’ve just about had enough.
Repeat after us: everything. is. gonna. be. fine. We know how hard it is to clear your mind and gain control over this emotion in the moment. But it’s not impossible! Let’s get into what it means to be angry and how you can handle this feeling — before you exploooode!
A Deeper Look At Feeling Angry
First of all, what does it actually mean to feel angry? APA Dictionary defines anger (n.) as “an emotion characterized by tension and hostility arising from frustration, real or imagined injury by another, or perceived injustice.”
There are sooo many reasons you might be feeling angry. Whether you’re slightly annoyed or extremely pissed off, it’s totally normal to feel this emotion from time to time. But let’s get specific with the potential reasons we feel angry…could it be stress from finances? What about family conflict, a relationship that’s up and down, or an emotionally draining friendship? Could it be a demanding course load at school? Maybe you’ve been criticized, rejected or treated poorly by someone in your life. You could be dealing with grief from losing a loved one. Sometimes, things happen to us that are just unfair. It might be a situation where you’re dealing with past trauma, or physical or psychological pain. Whether extreme or not, the list of things that could be triggering our anger goes on and on!
But even though it’s normal to feel anger in response to stress or any problems that come up in our daily lives, it can also be super destructive mentally and emotionally. Think about it. When we get angry, we tend to say or do things in the moment that we regret later. Having a random outburst, snapping at someone, or breaking things are all examples of when we lose control of our anger. And it’s safe to say that these can affect not just our relationships, but our own wellbeing.
We don’t want you to hold all of your anger inside. Like we said before, holding anger inside will eventually come back to bite us. And because we all experience anger differently and for different reasons, it’s important to identify the root cause of what’s making you feel this way in order to fully manage your anger.
How Feeling Angry Shows Up Mentally
When we’re angry, it can be reallyyy hard to think clearly. Typically, we fixate on this feeling and obsess over it until the anger finally goes away. You might feel easily annoyed, irritable or frustrated by every little thing. It’s also common to be dealing with stress and anger at the same time, since we tend to lash out when we feel overwhelmed. Anger could also make you feel anxious or nervous. Feeling resentful of the people or situations in your life, especially the ones that are driving you up the wall, is also a common sign of anger. When you’re feeling angry, you will probably have a hard time relaxing since you’re so worked up about something. If you do blow up at someone out of anger, striking out verbally or physically, it will probably lead to feelings of guilt and you’ll have to work to make things right with the people you’ve hurt.
You could experience any of these signs at any time when you’re angry, but it’s crucial to manage your emotions to avoid any blow ups or harmful behaviour. This is why it matters so much to deal with anger in healthy ways, to maintain your wellbeing and avoid damaging your relationships!
How Feeling Angry Shows Up Physically
Did ya know that anger actually affects multiple parts of the body? Yeppp, your brain, heart AND muscles! Similar to stress, it’s normal to experience a few of the following physical symptoms whenever you’re feeling angry:
- Clenched jaw
- Grinding teeth
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
- Muscle tension
- Feeling hot in the neck or face
- Shaking or trembling
- Tingling sensation
5 Ways To Cope With Feeling Angry
Now that you have a better idea of what might be causing you to feel angry, how do you deal with this emotion? Don’t worry, we’ve got your back. Here are some coping strategies for dealing with anger to get you feeling like yourself again!
1. Move your body
Let’s get physical! Go for a walk, stretch, ride a bike, dance, you name it. Exercise releases endorphins and actually improves your mood. Plus, it boosts your energy and improves focus. It does alllll the things!
2. Progressive muscle relaxation
This is a helpful technique for reducing stress that involves tensing a group of muscles as you breathe in, and then relaxing them while you breathe out. Repeat as needed!
3. 5-4-3-2-1 grounding exercise
Engage all five senses and mindfully notice five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. Go in any order that makes sense for you and your current situation – no pressure!
4. Practice deep breathing
Breathe in. Breathe out. Taking a moment to focus on your breathing has actually been proven to lower anxiety and reduce stress. Plus, deep breathing slows your heart rate and provides your brain with enough oxygen to chillax (making you feel less angry)!
5. Reach out to a support person
Your loved ones are there for a reason! When you need to talk through how you’re feeling, lean on the people you trust. Sometimes just having someone to listen to us and validate how we’re feeling makes all the difference.
Okay friend, that’s all for now. We hope you found all of this info helpful and use these tips whenever you’re feeling angry! Remember: don’t let yourself boil over. You CAN work through this feeling and come out on top. We believe in you!