Calm down! How to step back from the age of rage

Watch: Nikita from Married at First Sight argues with husband Ant on their honeymoon

Everyone feels angry sometimes. But whether we should give our rage free rein is another matter. This week, one of the participants in hit E4 show Married at First Sight was axed from the process for 'aggression.'

Nikita, 26, from Durham, has already lit up social media over her rants, throwing a cup at her new husband Ant on their Mexican honeymoon and raging to camera that her handsome and admirably patient new partner was 'the opposite of what I asked for.'

But her swearing and stomping has now come to an end.

According to Channel 4, "a situation escalated off camera" and Nikita's level of aggression "was unacceptable and breached our agreed code of conduct on behaviour".

Although she has apologised, for many viewers, enough was enough. But Nikita's tantrums only reflect the waves of anger most of us encounter every day, whether it's a rude client, a furious commuter or a social media storm. We're living in the Age of Rage - and it's not doing us any good.

Pictured: Ant and Nikita.
Ant and Nikitia, love's young dream (Channel 4)

It's increasingly clear that while letting emotions out is welcomed by mental health practitioners and 'bottling it up' is considered old-fashioned and even damaging, when it comes to anger, letting it all hang out is not acceptable.

So how should we be expressing our anger - and what happens when we fail to manage it properly?

Therapist Tam Johnston says: "Used well, anger is a positive emotion that sadly gets a bad reputation which plays into people feeling ashamed about it and suppressing it.

"Anger is our internal detector that lets us know we're 'not ok' with something; that what is happening goes against our expectations, values or boundaries," she goes on.

"It is our internal messenger that lets us know we need to act upon it - express ourselves calmly and assertively to those who have caused our anger, tell them why it's not ok and reassert our boundaries with people or do something to improve the situation.

"Anger is there to motivate us to take action to correct or improve a situation or relationship - or as a warning signal to cause us to walk away and protect ourselves from more harm."

Angry unhappy young couple ignoring not looking at each other after family fight or quarrel, upset thoughtful spouses avoiding talk, sitting silently on couch, having relationship troubles.
Is the silent treatment the answer to anger? (Getty Images) (fizkes via Getty Images)

In Johnston's view, 'It's less about anger management than acknowledging and directing anger. Most people tend to interpret 'management' as having to suppress their feelings, which takes a toll on our bodies and physical health as well as damaging our self esteem by not acting upon our true feelings."

But where Nikita - and those like her - go wrong, she explains, is "where we suppress or hold onto anger and it accumulates (think generally angry people), meaning a lot of the time, we are not responding to what's currently going on, we're reacting to our past."

That's when strategies to help heal and 'let go' of past anger, or seeing a professional to assist with that is important, to protect our relationships and health, she adds.

Read more: The Pandemic Is Making Us Angry – Here's How To Harness It

Navit Schechter is a Cognitive Behaviour Therapist and founder of Conscious & Calm

"Anger is a normal and healthy human emotion which we all experience from time to time," says Navit Schechter, a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist and founder of Conscious & Calm

"This feeling often arises when we think that we have been unfairly treated, deceived or attacked, when our rules or expectations have not been met or when someone acts against our wishes. Feelings of anger are usually accompanied by a number of physical symptoms including physical tension - shouting and screaming is a very quick release of these pent up physical feelings, that are often very hard to suppress."

Sometimes, it's appropriate. "If you are being threatened, then feeling angry, shouting and screaming may give you the energy and strength to deal with the threat.

"And there's plenty more where this came from..." (Getty Images)
"And there's plenty more where this came from..." (Getty Images) (MoMo Productions via Getty Images)

"However if your anger is misplaced or out of proportion to the situation, then shouting and screaming is often threatening and intimidating and can cause the other person emotional harm. If we are not able to manage it effectively, prolonged periods of frequent anger can impact our overall mental and physical health and can cause conflict with friends, family, colleagues and, in extreme cases, the law."

As well as learned behaviour - if your parent screamed and ranted, you may be more likely to do the same - Schechter goes on, "some people may experience very intense feelings of anger which makes it harder to hold it all in and others may believe that it's OK to shout at others.

Watch: Therapist breaks down couples fighting in movies and TV

"Modern life is very busy and many people are under a lot of pressure which means that they don't have much tolerance for life's frustrations and disappointments, which makes them more likely to explode when they encounter these."

Some management strategies include mindfulness, and deep breathing.

Vic Paterson, a hynotherapist specialising in stress, anxiety and PTSD says, "Mindfulness can help put us in touch with our emotions, which means we are less likely to rush to anger in the first place.

Take a big breath, lady. (Getty Images)
Take a big breath, lady. (Getty Images) (The Good Brigade via Getty Images)

Read more: How going to bed angry can affect your mental health

"Using the anger as a catalyst for change - examining why you are angry and what you can do to change the situation in a constructive manner - can also be a very powerful way to move forward," adds Paterson.

"Breathing techniques and removing yourself from the cause of the frustration, whether it’s stepping away, or even just sitting down and counting to ten in your head, can help defuse situations too."

So you need to simmer down - but how do you release a sudden wave of anger without breaking all the plates in the house?

How to calm down

1 Reduce your overall tension levels. "Relaxation strategies like breathing exercises, meditation and yoga can help you to feel calmer so that you have more tolerance for daily frustrations and disappointments," says Navit Schechter,

2 Become aware of your triggers. "Make a note of the situations that cause you to feel angry so that you can avoid them or learn to respond to them differently. Anger is often a result of other people not meeting the high standards we set for them. Recognising that we can't control others actions can help put anger into perspective."

3 Find an alternative outlet for your anger. "It can be helpful to find healthier ways to release tension and feelings of anger e.g. going for a walk, doing some intense exercise, hitting a pillow, singing, journalling or speaking to a friend," says Schechter.

"I am what I am..." sing that rage out. (Getty Images)
"I am what I am..." sing that rage out. (Getty Images) (JGI/Jamie Grill via Getty Images)

4 Practice assertive communication. "When communicating your needs, focusing on the facts and taking responsibility for your own emotions - rather than blaming the other person for these - can help you manage your feelings of anger, minimise conflict with others and improve relationships as a result.

"Try saying, 'I felt frustrated that you didn't do the dishes this morning when you said you would,' rather than, 'you never do what you say you're going to do, you're so inconsiderate!'"

5 If feelings of anger are getting in the way of your life and relationships, speaking to a therapist or counsellor may help you to make the changes you need.

Watch: This 90-second deep breathing exercise will help relieve stress

life ed
life ed