Despite what you or others might think, there are in fact effective ways to deal with anger. Taming your temper doesn’t have to be something that’s a faraway dream or a nightmare to work with! We live in a wild and crazy world, from frightening news headlines to constant cutbacks at work so it’s natural to have a strong reaction. Anger is a natural, normal reaction to things. But, when it gets to the point where you feel as if it’s no longer under control and you’re endangering your relationships, it’s time to take a step back. Keep reading for some effective ways to deal with anger and learn how to prevent it from taking over.
1. Understand It
Effective ways to deal with anger doesn’t just involve emotional exercises, it’s good to understand it. Have you thought about the negative effects that anger has on all areas of your life, from family to work and friends? Anger doesn’t get you want you want or help you gain control of a situation. In most cases, it works against us and it can alienate us from the people we care about. It’s also bad for us. Being frequently stressed out and angry is not only bad for your physical health, but it can also lead to mental health problems.
2. Recognize Triggers
Now that you’ve thought about the effects of anger in more detail, another way of dealing with anger is to recognize triggers. Despite popular belief, anger has much more to do with your interpretation and feelings on things rather than the action itself. There are many negative patterns of thinking than can lead to anger such as blaming, jumping to conclusions about things or even looking for things to be angry about. Take the time to think about these things, did you misinterpret or misunderstand a statement? Maybe you can be a perfectionist about things and your laid-back co-worker doesn’t look at things the same way.
3. Be Aware
Many times anger is a result of a build-up of emotions and we can recognize the signs that leads to anger. Anger is a strong emotion and your body reacts accordingly, maybe you clench your fists, breathe faster or you start “seeing red.” Practice recognizing these signs early, so you’re better able to manage your anger before it gets out of control. It might seem like an automatic reaction, but there are definitely signs before you let out your anger.
4. Control the Environment
Another way to deal with anger is to control your environment. If you notice that your daily commute makes you want to kick down walls or you always get into a fight with someone after you go out drinking with friends, work around it! You can still get to work on time if you take a different route or leave earlier! You can still have fun with friends without drinking or going to a bar! Whenever possible, avoid putting yourself in situations where you can avoid unnecessary stress.
5. Just Breathe
“Just breathe” is probably one of the most overused statements ever, but it works! Whenever we feel anxious or upset, our breathing becomes shallow and we feel tense-making us feel worse. When you get angry, try to focus on taking long, deep breaths. This feels good, helps lower your heart rate and help take your mind off of anger-inducing situation. WebMD has a helpful guide on breathing exercises for stress here, at webmd.com.
6. Stop Those Thoughts
Have you ever noticed that your behaviors often times reflect your feelings about things? I can be quite a pessimist at times and I can easily overthink myself into a tizzy! Stop those thoughts! Many experts believe that your thoughts influence how you feel and react to things. Be aware of negative thinking, worry and doubt as it can easily lead to anger or anxiety. Then, create substitutions for those thoughts with more positive and realistic ones. Although it takes a lot of practice, thought-stopping can help you overcome negative thoughts patterns, just keep at it!
7. Get Some Perspective
Getting some perspective on things is another way of dealing with anger. Take the time to really think about the situation at hand, is it really worth getting angry over? Is this situations really worth risking your health, job, relationship or maybe even your life? If something is bothering you, you can still express your thoughts. The goal isn’t to suppress or stop anger, it’s to manage it and express it in a non-confrontational, yet assertive way. Wait it out, take some deep breaths and once you’re calmer, explain your feelings without being hurtful.
8. Time out
Taking a time out to collect your thoughts and take some deep breaths is always a smart idea, regardless of the situation! Count to 10 and breathe before you react in any tense situation to help defuse your anger. It might sound silly to some, but reacting and speaking without thinking is reckless. While you might feel like you need to react immediately, taking a time out can help you make better decisions in the long run.
9. Think about Options
Think back to the last time you lost your temper and replay the scenario in your mind. Now, think about different ways you could’ve reacted to the situation. Doing so helps give you different ways of reacting and it helps you realize that you have options! It’s not all or nothing where you have to either get angry or be passive. There are ways to be assertive without being overly aggressive!
10. Walk Away
While dealing with anger, sometimes it’s best to just walk away from the situation. Create a mental or physical escape from what’s angering you so you’re not stuck with your blood boiling. Try to get your mind and/or body away from the stressful situation and help you see things more clearly. Are you stuck in a long line at the store? Pick up a magazine, catch up on Facebook or read emails while you wait. If you’re stuck in traffic, try taking a detour, sing along to the radio or call up a friend you’ve been meaning to catch up with - on a hands-free device of course!
11. Focus on You
The last tip on dealing with anger is to focus on “I” statements. Focusing on you actually prevents the blame game and criticizing the other person. Be specific in your statements and most of all, respectful. “I” statement focus on how you feel to describe the problem instead of blaming the other person. This comes in handy in communicating with just about anyone, try it at work or with family. People react much more favorably to “I’m upset that you didn’t help me with…” instead of “You never help me with anything.”
Remember that the goal here is NOT to suppress or avoid anger! Anger is a natural emotion and we’re just trying to find better ways to manage it. I hope you find these tips on dealing with anger helpful for you. What’s the best advice you’ve received on dealing with anger?