Why anger is on the rise
These are difficult times. Whether it’s the pandemic, politics, or social injustice, emotions are running high—chief among them, anger. But what is anger, and why are we feeling it these days more than ever? (These are the best ways to deal with anger.)
“Anger is generally a crisis response that is reflective of a feeling of vulnerability,” says Jennifer Hoskins-Tomko, a licensed clinical social worker at Clarity Health Solutions in Jupiter, Florida. “When we feel vulnerable in some way, we go into a crisis mode, such as fight, flight, or freeze. Anger is the fight mode that helps create a feeling of control to overcome the vulnerability.”
Things that make people feel vulnerable and trigger anxiety vary wildly, explains Hoskins-Tomko, but include being unable to get your needs and wants met, being disrespected, or feeling embarrassed, jealous, or overwhelmed. (Here’s what science knows about anger management.)
Why irritation turns to anger
“There are so many reasons why irritation builds and bubbles over to anger for people and no two people have the same triggers,” agrees Connecticut-based psychologist Roseann Capanna-Hodge.
“Anger in and of itself is often a symptom of something else: unresolved issues, a clinical issue such as anxiety, depression, OCD [obsessive compulsive disorder], or a personality disorder,” says Capanna-Hodge. “Anger may just be a sign of frustration with a person or event when someone is unable to communicate their feelings in a healthy way.” (Learn the different types of anger.)
Of course, if anger issues become debilitating, lead to physical violence or thoughts of self-harm, it’s imperative to seek professional help as soon as possible. (If you or someone you know has had thoughts of self-harm or suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255), which provides 24/7, free, confidential support for people in distress.)
Anger management products
Finding products that help give you a feeling of control, as well as items that address vulnerability and anxiety, might be helpful in quelling angry feelings.
“Stress management techniques of any kind are best when they bring people to an awareness of emotions and help them channel their feelings in more productive and cathartic ways,” explains Daryl Appleton, a licensed mental health counselor and owner of Polaris Counseling, a New England-based boutique mental health private practice.
Here are some products that may help you reduce or control your anger.
Looking to work through anger issues with your partner, better center yourself through meditation, get your sweat on, or simply engage in therapy without having to leave your home? There’s an app for that. Connect with a licensed therapist 24/7 in the privacy of your own home thanks to the Talkspace app, which features options for psychiatry and medicine management, as well as couples therapy and teen therapy. Talkspace accepts insurance.
(Here’s how one woman deals with anger issues.)
Share Your Stuff: I’ll Go First
“Journaling is probably one of the most cathartic exercises one can do because it involves all parts of the brain—most importantly your frontal and temporal lobes which control rational thought and emotion,” says Appleton. “You are committing to putting a name to your emotion. Rather than just feeling angry, you can label that you were frustrated with “x” in a situation. Once you name what is wrong, then you can go through the process of normalizing your emotions and navigating through them.”
(Here are therapist tips for how to start a journal.)
Anger is linked to vulnerability and feelings of helplessness. This empowering book Share Your Stuff: I’ll Go First—part memoir, part journaling prompt—from popular blogger and podcaster Laura Tremaine, encourages women to embrace their vulnerability and let go of personal shame.
Tibetan Singing Bowl Set
For thousands of years, many Eastern cultures have observed the relaxing and even healing benefits of sound therapy, that can be practiced with items like Tibetan singing bowls. According to a 2016 study in the Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine, singing bowl sound meditation results in less anger, tension, fatigue, and depression.
“Sound therapy is particularly effective when it comes to anger,” agrees Jennifer Buljan, certified vibrational sound therapy practitioner who uses instruments including Tibetan bowls, crystal bowls, tuning forks, chimes, and gongs with her clients. “Anger is an emotion that stems from frustration, and frustration is a result of blocked energy in the body. If these blockages are not released the body will simply build on that, and this is how emotional outbursts occur,” she says.
This small, palm-sized singing bowl from The Ohm Store, is a bestseller, highly rated on Amazon, and is hand-hammered in Nepal.
$13 per month
One of the most well-known meditation apps, Headspace features hundreds of guided meditations, meditations for work, bite-sized meditations, and meditations for sleep. It’s particularly popular because of the depth and breadth of offerings, including meditations as short as one minute for bite-sized Zen. It includes the option to target your practice depending on what you want to focus on, such as better managing anxiety.
(Also, try these meditation tips.)
Aricove Cooling Weighted Blanket
Items that help produce a calming, cocooning effect, such as weighted blankets, could be a good addition to an anger-relieving toolkit. Weighted blankets are effective but can run hot. This cooling version from Aricove weighs 15 pounds and is highly rated. Five-pound and 20-pound versions are also available. When using a weighted blanket, choose one that’s no more than 10 percent of your body weight, so a 20-pound version would be appropriate for someone who weighs at least 200 pounds. (Also check out our Bearaby weighted blanket review.)
Charlotte’s Web CBD Gummies
CBD products featuring cannabidiol extract—the medicinal, non-intoxicant part of the cannabis plant—have been growing in popularity over the past couple of years as effective stress- and anxiety-relievers. “There are a decent amount of studies that show the impact of CBD on certain serotonin receptor sites, which help to curb anxiety, and with the endocannabinoid system, which is involved in the processing and forgetting fears,” explains Appleton. (Here are the best CBD oils for anxiety.)
CBD is available in everything from bath salts to olive oils to balms to capsules. These lemon-lime flavored gummies from Charlotte’s Web are designed to help de-stress and promote calm, with whole-plant hemp extracts including a blend of cannabinoids, terpenes (aromatic plant compounds), and flavonoids. Hemp plants are related to marijuana plants, but they have low levels of THC (no more than 0.3 percent THC), the compound responsible for marijuana’s high.
Arggh Rainbow Ball
Looking for a quick and easy anger release? This giant Arggh stress ball for both kids and adults may help. The jumbo-sized stress ball is ideal for physical and emotional relief therapy as it allows you to squeeze it, stretch it, and smash it with both hands. It’s about five inches in diameter and could be a great fidget toy if you’re at your desk working or attending class virtually.
“Stress balls mimic what we see in progressive muscle relaxation where we tighten a muscle group and then release it,” says Appleton. “It’s an exercise in mindfulness that refocuses the emotional energy from anger and channels it into an intentional activity. But be warned, without intentionally focusing your energy into the activity you are just giving your hand muscles a workout.”
(Here’s what experts want you to know about fidget spinners.)
$15 per month
While the physical benefits of exercise are obvious, the mental benefits are important, too. Exercising releases feel-good endorphins, promotes well-being, and can help provide a necessary release for pent-up emotions and negative feelings.
The CrossFlow Yoga app features numerous classes, including Anxiety Reducing Cardio Flow (30 minutes of mood-boosting cardio flow) and Yoga for Anxiety, 20-minute calming and grounding yoga flow created with the input of a licensed psychologist.
(Here are some yoga quotes to get inspired.)
Buzio Shaggy Faux Fur Weighted Blanket
If you want a weighted blanket but are looking for a more affordable alternative, try this 15-pound dual-sided blanket from Buzio. It’s available in four colors and features plush, shaggy polyester faux fur perfect for when you’re trying to relax. There are other sizes and weights, including 12-pound and 20-pound versions depending on your body weight.
There are also two 15-pound blankets options in either a 48″ x 72″ size to cover a twin or full-sized bed, or a larger 60″ x 80″ throw that can cover a full or queen-sized bed. It’s also machine washable for easier cleaning. (Here’s how to wash a weighted blanket.)
Speks 2.5 mm Magnet Balls
Stress-relief balls can help provide a simple but effective outlet for your anger. These mini magnet balls from Speks claim to be therapist-approved and are available in more than 20 colors. You can build things with them or smush them in your hands for stress relief.
(Here are more stress-relief toys that actually work.)
CBDFx Calming Tincture
A few drops of this vegan, gluten-free, PETA-certified CBD tincture may help ease anxiety and help you get to sleep faster and more deeply. CBDFx Calming Tincture is available in four different strengths and also includes links to lab test results, so you know exactly what ingredients you’re getting. (Here are the best CBD tinctures for migraine.)
Behind the Anger Therapy Kit
Specially designed to help tame anger, this fun, fast-paced card game is targeted at kids ages 6 through 12 who may need a little extra help dealing with frustration and figuring out ways to properly express upset feelings.
The therapeutic game from Behind the Anger, is a variation of the classic card game UNO. Anywhere between two to eight players rush to rid themselves of cards—but with 11 different anger management strategies. The game features talking points to help process emotions and work through appropriate responses.
Next, find out the medical reasons you’re in a bad mood.