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Hello Idaho: Recognizing and managing anger

"If your anger is controlling you it's probably necessary to take back that energy and focus on controlling it instead."

BOISE, Idaho — It's not unusual to get frustrated or irritated, but if stronger forms of anger feel like they are taking over your life, it may be time to get help.

Darren Bushee, a field care coordinator with Optum Idaho, said that sometimes anger is necessary, but the emotion can go in several different directions.

“When it turns destructive, that’s when it becomes problematic," he said. "It can lead to problems in your work, personal relationships, and overall quality of life. If your anger is controlling you it’s probably necessary to take back that energy and focus on controlling it instead.”

The idea that the best way to release anger is to simply let it out can be counterproductive, he added.

"The theory of license to hurting others is never a solution," Bushee said. "Research shows that doing that with anger actually escalates it, and aggression overall, and actually does nothing to help you or the person to try to resolve the situation. So it’s best to find out what is triggering your anger and then develop strategies to keep those triggers from tipping you over the edge.”

Bushee said there are multiple ways to deal with anger, including deep breathing and relaxation.

“When you’re angry, your thinking can get very exaggerated and overall dramatic. Try replacing those thoughts with more rational ones. Instead of telling yourself that everything is ruined, try telling yourself it’s frustrating and it’s not the end of the world," he said. "There’s another – just simple problem solving. Sometimes our anger and our frustrations are caused by very real inescapable problems. So the best problem there is not to find the solution, but rather how you can handle and face the problem. Another good technique is just better communication. Angry people tend to jump to conclusions. The first thing is to slow yourself down when you’re in a heated discussion, listen to the other person, and think through those responses. And then obviously the last one here is sometimes our environment can be impacting the way we feel that maybe we can change or influence that. Problems and responsibilities at home and work can weigh on us, so if this is the case we can step away from those environments and give yourself a break.”

If those solutions aren't working, and someone's anger still feels out of control, Bushee recommends seeking professional help with a counselor or psychologist.

“Things can happen that will cause you to be angry and sometimes justifiably. You can’t change that but you can change the way that you let those feelings affect you. Controlling your anger responses actually positions you to safeguard your happiness in the long run.”

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