Anger is an emotion that allot of us find difficult to deal with. People often push it away or try to bottle it up because they worry it’s bad. The key to dealing with angry feelings, though, is to find safe and helpful ways to express it.
If you’re hearing, seeing or experiencing things that other people don’t you might become angry for lots of reasons. The voices you hear might make you angry by saying nasty things or threatening you. You might feel angry that you can’t escape from them. You might feel frustrated that people don’t understand what you’re going through, or that they don’t believe you.
On the other hand, you might find that you don’t feel angry at all – that you feel numb or cut off from things. Sometimes, if people are really scared of feeling angry they protect themselves by switching it off altogether. The problem is that sometimes these feelings build up and come out in different ways – including problems with eating, self harm, nasty voices and visions.
If you’re struggling with angry feelings you might feel like you explode when things get too much. You might worry that you’re hurting yourself, or the people you care about (with words or actions). Sometimes you might find that smashing up your room, taking drugs or drinking helps release it.
If you’d like to try some new ways of dealing with the angry feelings you have (or think that you might be bottling things up), you could try:
- Expressing yourself (channeling the anger out)
- Finding ways of calming down
- Dealing with the roots and looking at what’s making you feel angry
If you’re feeling angry you have a choice about how you deal with it. If you bottle it up, you might find that you end up letting it out all in one go. It can feel like the anger is in control, not you, and you can end up doing things you wish you hadn’t.
Sometimes people find ways of locking anger inside themselves. It can seem as if this solves the problem because they don’t feel it any more. Instead, they might feel numb or as if they’re really far away from things. Whilst this is a way of coping with difficult feelings, in the long term it can cause problems of its own.
Expressing difficult emotions like anger and frustration can be a little scary. You might worry about losing control, or think that the only way of releasing it is to hurt yourself, other people or your things.
There are lots of ways of expressing yourself safely and positively, though. Have a go at some of the following ideas and find something that works for you.
- Try shadow boxing (boxing an imaginary opponent)
- Listen to some angry or emotional music (sing along if you like!)
- Dance, lose yourself in the rhythm of the music
- Kick a football around, do some jumping jacks or do something physical
- Go for a run, a fast walk or ride your bike
- Throw a soft ball at the wall
- Write, draw or paint how you’re feeling
- Keep a diary and write in it every time something gets on your nerves
- Hit a pillow or punch bag
- Go somewhere no one can hear you and shout really loudly
- Scream into a pillow
- Play your guitar, piano or another instrument
If expressing the way you’re feeling isn’t helping you to feel better, or you find yourself getting more worked up, check out the next section on chilling out and calming yourself down again.
If you’re feeling really worked up it can be hard to find ways of calming down. You might feel like you’re on a rollercoaster or a runaway train with no brakes.
Next time you find yourself getting annoyed about something, try one of the following ideas. Like all ways of chilling out, the more you do them the easier you get. So, if they don’t work straight away try not to give up. You will be able to find something that works for you.
- Take slow deep breaths
- Clench your fists for 5 seconds, then unclench them. Repeat with your toes. Really pay attention to the way your body feels
- Learn some relaxation techniques
- Use your imagination to think of something that makes you feel good or safe.
- Spend time thinking about how it looks and feels. Try and use all of your senses.
- Massage your arms, legs or face
- Give yourself a hug, cuddle up to something soft or hug your duvet
- Take some time out and go somewhere that makes you feel safe and comforted
- Going for a walk outside, getting in touch with nature
- Try Tai Chi, Yoga or meditation
- Listen to music that makes you feel chilled out and relaxed
Once you feel a bit calmer, it can really help to work out what’s making you angry and find a way of dealing with the root causes.
Dealing With The Roots
OK, so hopefully you’ve looked at some ways of expressing the way you feel and calming yourself down. These coping strategies can really help you manage the way your angry feelings. If you find yourself becoming angry allot, or if you’re hearing voices that are angry, it can be a signal there’s something bigger going on.
Have a think about the following questions. It can really help to talk them over with someone you trust (a good friend, parent, teacher, mentor or someone else).
Q1. What’s the problem?
When we feel angry, the way we think and feel can get all jumbled up and it can be hard to think straight. It can help to spend some time working out what it was that made you feel angry.
Try and be as detailed as possible. What happened? What did you feel? What did you think?
My dad told me to wash the dishes, but I told him I’d do it later. He acted like he didn’t think I would. I felt like he thinks I’m lazy and doesn’t get how hard it is for me. My voices started yelling at me too and it all got too much
If you can start to keep a diary of these times you should start to notice some themes and patterns. Common ones are: feeling guilty, feeling misunderstood, feeling attacked and feeling like people are being unfair to you.
Q2. Thinking of ways of dealing with the problem
There are lots of ways of seeing, and dealing with, things that trouble us. Once you’ve worked out some of the things that tend to make you angry, it can help to think through some different ways of dealing with it. You don’t have to do this on your own – in fact it can really help to talk through ideas with someone you trust. If you’re not sure who to talk to, try ringing Childline (0800 11 11) for advice.
Try and keep an open mind, writing down lots of different ideas of handling the situation. At the moment the important thing is to see that there are options here.
Q3. Weigh up the possibilities
Once you’ve got a list, it’s time to go through it and think of the pros and cons of each idea. Think about the impact it’d have on you, what you want to do and the people around you.
Circle the ideas that, after you’ve thought about it, seem like the most helpful.
Q4. Start planning
Now you’ve decided of a way of handling the problem, it’s time to start planning how you can do it. Think: what is it I want to do? what steps do I need to take? who can help me? what do I need? what can I do right now? This is all about taking some control back.
For example, if the reason you’re feeling angry is that you’re being bullied at school but no one seems to care you might decide to:
- Ring childline to talk through how you’re feeling
- Tell your parents, family or the school nurse
- If you’ve got a friend you trust, tell them how it’s affecting you and ask if they can help by sticking with you. Bullies are often worse if you’re on your own.
- Keep a record of everything that happens
- Find out your school’s policy on bullying – every school should have one
- Get in touch with, or ask about setting up, a peer support project for other young people who are being bullied too
- Practice some ways of expressing how you’re feeling and chilling out to help you cope with how you’re feeling
Again, don’t feel you need to do this alone. There are lots of people who will be happy to help you work things out.