Keeping calm when provoked isn’t always as straight forward as it appears. Being able to manage your anger is a skill that everyone can learn. And no, anger management isn’t simply a means by which you internalise and supress your rage, rather it’s a means of acknowledging it, taking control of it, and safely defusing the rage. Remember: uncontrolled anger can take a terrible toll on both your health and your relationships. These 10 tips can help you to get your anger under control and perhaps boost your health too:
1. Engage brain before vocal cords
In the heat of any argument it’s easy to let your mouth run away with the situation, shooting off statements and accusations that later you regret. Take a few slow deep breaths, pause and collect your thoughts for a few moments before saying anything. And remember to allow others involved in the situation to do the same too.
2. Keep calm and calmly express your anger
As soon as you're thinking clearly, express your how you feel in an assertive and nonconfrontational way. Slow deep breaths help. Acknowledge what others are saying, then state your concerns and needs clearly and directly, without hurting others or trying to control them: “ I hear what you say, but this is how I feel…”
3. Work it out
Regular physical activity can help burn off the excess neurotransmitters and hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol that are fuelling your anger. When anger rears its ugly head, go for a brisk walk or run, or spend some time doing other enjoyable physical activities. Regular exercise helps your body to manage and regulate adrenaline and cortisol more effectively. At the same time, you produce higher levels of the ‘happy hormones’ called endorphins that will help give you the feel good factor and dampen down the anger.
4. Step away
During the day, give yourself short breaks, especially during stressful times. Moments away from the routine help you to reset your mood and prepare to handle situations more calmly and assertively.
5. Focus on a solution, not a problem
Learn to shift your focus of attention away from what made you mad as hell, and begin to think about working on a resolution instead. Remind yourself that anger won't fix anything and might only make it worse.
6. Make 'I' statements
Playing the blame game only aggravates situations. Use "I" statements to describe the problematic situation whilst being respectful to those involved. For example, say, "I'm upset that you left work without offering to help with the backlog of orders that have piled up" instead of, "You never help or put yourself out to help others! "
7. Keep the Grudge Grinch in its place
Learn to forgive as it’s a powerful tool. Anger leaves no room for positive feelings that can be pushed out of the way as you get swallowed up with bitterness and the perceived injustice of a situation. Learn to forgive and let go. After all, it is unrealistic to expect everyone to exactly how you want them to be.
8. Use the Laughing Gnome to release tension
Resist the temptation to descend into sarcasm. Work on ways of lightening things up with some appropriate humour. In this way, you can help diffuse tension, melt away resentment and lift your own mood too.
9. Practice relaxation skills
Relaxation and anger are totally incompatible bedfellows. Learn to recognise the signs of rising anger within you. When it does rear its ugly head, you can vanquish it through the practice of a variety of exercises such as:
- Breathe deeply, from your diaphragm; breathing from your chest won't relax you. Picture your breath coming up from your "gut."
- Slowly repeat a calm word or phrase such as "relax," "calm," “peace.” Repeat it to yourself while breathing deeply into and out of your abdominal region.
- Use imagery; imagine a relaxing experience. It doesn’t matter if it’s based in reality, or simply a figment of your imagination. As you imagine it, so the feelings associated with that place can manifest in your body, turning down the anger.
- Learn some stretching exercises, or go to yoga or Tai Chi classes. These non-strenuous exercises help you to relax your muscles and make you feel much calmer.
10. Know when to seek help
If your anger really is out of control, then go and see an experienced therapist who can help take you by the hand and teach you how to become a calmer person.
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Peter Mabbutt FBSCH