Anger. It can erupt in a flash—when you feel insulted, during a heated game, or when something small reminds you of an emotional wound still not truly healed. When you’re young, alert to injustice and still forming your own identity, anger is easily accessed—and easily expressed, with often tragic consequences.

If not properly addressed and directed, anger can wreak destruction both around and within you. Anger poisons interpersonal relationships. People who thrive on “drama” may make intense connections, but the fervor fades fast. Anger increases your heart rate, raises blood pressure, and spikes adrenaline and noradrenaline. Anger can contribute to such chronic traits as high-blood pressure and heart disease.

How can you control and channel anger? First, try to identify anger early to stop it with ease. Second, pause and breathe deeply two or three times. Third, do something different. For example, start thinking about something else, or leave the area quickly to engage in some physical activity. It usually helps to think of the consequences (What would happen if I ‘blow’ it?). Finally, when you feel anger taking control, it helps to pray: “Dear God, please help me to be calm and humble.”

A radical change of perspective may also be key. James 4:1-2 asks, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight” (NIV).

Taking control of your emotions is a tough battle, but it can change everything. Proverbs 15:1 declares, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (NIV).