Anger is a natural response to perceived threats-a survival instinct that activates the body’s fight or flight reaction.
Anger can be triggered by both internal and external factors. External triggers are a result of outside influences, such as a coworker spreading rumors about you or a person cutting you off in heavy traffic. Internal triggers involve brooding about personal issues or obsessing on negative experiences from the past. Learned behaviors, inherited tendencies, and brain chemistry may also play a role in the severity of anger.
Constantly bottling up our frustration can lead to physical and emotional reactions, including like high blood pressure and anxiety.
There are a number of ways you can use to better manage anger.
1. Take time to relax.
Taking time every day to relax can have be a positive for your overall mental health. Give yourself a few minutes to allow a level of reason to return to your mind. You will be in a better position to make appropriate decisions.
2. Deep Breathe
Breathing exercises are an easy way to calm down from the body’s fight or heightened state of alertness.
Try taking slow, controlled breaths you inhale from your belly rather than your chest. This allows your body to instantly calm itself. Taking a few deep breaths helps activate a calming reflex in the body.
3. Change your surroundings
Give yourself a break by taking some personal time from your immediate surroundings.
Go outside and take a few deep breaths. Hold the rock tight and imagine all your anger and resentment being transferred to the rock. When ready, take a deep breath and release while throwing the rock as hard as you can, over the water. Watch the rock disappear into the water.
4. Use humor to dampen anger
By not taking yourself too seriously, you’ll have more chances to see how unimportant minor annoyances are in the big scheme of things.
If you feel you shouldn’t be subjected to the indignity of a given situation, picture yourself as a king or queen, and you always get your way. As you mentally create your mental picture, include lots of details — the more outrageous, the better.
5. Change the way you think
In anger, thinking can become exaggerated.
Avoid words like “always” or “never” when thinking or talking about the person or situation making you angry. These absolute words justify your anger and alienate others trying to help you find a solution. Understand anger has a way of quickly making thoughts irrational. By taking a few of the breaths above then trying to determine if your thoughts are irrational.
6. Write It Out
When you write, don’t just focus on the negative or adverse aspect of the event or situation, try to brainstorm solutions or how you could handle things differently in the future. Consider journaling, creating poetry, or writing a letter or email to someone who wronged you (that you may or may not send). This technique can effectively get stuck emotions moving up and out of the body, thereby reducing or preventing the toxic emotional buildup that may be spilling out all over your life.
7. USE THE WORD ‘I’ WHENEVER POSSIBLE
Blaming and criticizing the other person will only increase the angry feelings and tension. Instead, use “I” statements to describe the problem in a helpful, understanding, mutually accepting way.
Rather than using accusing phrases such as, “You never….” or “You always…”, try explaining your frustrations by saying something like, “I get frustrated when…” or “I’m unhappy that…”.
Don’t let anger and other negative feelings crowd out the positive ones. Avoid being swallowed up by bitterness or a sense of injustice. It’s unrealistic to expect everyone to behave exactly as you want at all times. Forgive them, and move on.
9. Offer solutions
Anger without a solution won’t resolve anything. A compromise may be an effective way to satisfy everyone involved with the situation. We often focus on what made us mad or upset. Instead, assess the situation and remind yourself that anger isn’t the answer and won’t lead to a solution. In fact, it might make matters worse.
10. Seek help
Anger is a normal emotion. It’s rooted in our reaction to threats. Learning to control anger is very challenging, but it’s imperative for a happy, calm life. Consider seeking help if you are hurting yourself or others, or if your anger seems out of control and you are often regretting your actions. Or talking with a qualified therapist can help you work through the sources of your anger and help you develop better coping tools.