Failure to manage your anger can lead to a variety of issues, including saying things you later regret, yelling at your children, threatening coworkers, sending rash emails, developing health problems, and even resorting to physical violence. However, not all cases of rage are as serious. Instead, your rage may manifest itself in the form of wasting time thinking about upsetting events, becoming frustrated in traffic, or venting about work.
Anger management does not imply never becoming angry. Instead, it entails learning to recognize, cope with, and express your anger in a healthy and productive manner. Everyone can learn how to manage their anger. Even if you believe you have control over your anger, there is always room for improvement.
While anger is not a mental illness in and of itself, it has been linked to mood disorders, substance use disorders, and other mental health conditions in some cases.
So you are probably wondering, “How do I become less angry?” While change may not occur overnight, there are numerous strategies available to help you deal with your anger.
Anger Management Strategies
Cognitive behavioral interventions for anger management have been shown in numerous studies to be effective. These interventions entail altering your thinking and behavior. They are predicated on the idea that your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are all linked. (In anger management therapy, cognitive behavioral interventions are also taught.)
Your thoughts and behaviors can either increase or decrease your emotions. So, if you want to change your emotional state away from anger, you can change what you think and do. Without fuel, the fire within you will begin to fade, and you will feel more at ease.
The following are 9 anger management strategies to include in your anger management control plan.
Take inventory of the things that make you angry if you have developed a habit of losing your cool. Long lines, traffic jams, snarky comments, and exhaustion are just a few things that can make you lose your cool.
While you should not blame others or external circumstances for your inability to maintain your cool, understanding what causes your rage can help you plan accordingly.
You may decide to restructure your day in order to manage your stress better. Alternatively, you could practice some anger management techniques before encountering situations that normally distress you. These actions can help you lengthen your fuse, which means that a single frustrating episode will not set you off.
Consider Whether Your Anger Is Beneficial or Negative.
Before you take action to calm yourself down, consider whether your anger is a friend or an enemy. If you witness someone’s rights being violated or are in an unhealthy situation, your rage may be beneficial.
In these cases, you might try to change the situation rather than your emotional state. Anger can be a warning sign that something else needs to change, such as an emotionally abusive relationship or a toxic friendship.
If, on the other hand, your anger is causing you distress or harming your relationships, it may be an enemy. Feeling out of control and later regretting your words or actions are also signs of this type of anger. It makes sense to work on dealing with your emotions and calming yourself down in these situations.
Step Away From the Triggering Situation
Trying to win an argument or staying in a bad situation will only fuel your rage. If possible, remove yourself from the situation as one of the best anger management exercises.
If you frequently get into heated arguments with someone, such as a friend or family member, talk to them about the importance of taking a break and resuming when you are both feeling calm.
When you need to take a break, explain that you are not trying to avoid difficult topics but that you are working on anger management. When you are upset, it is difficult to have a productive conversation or resolve a conflict. When you are feeling more relaxed, you can rejoin the discussion or address the issue again.
Setting a specific time and place to discuss the issue again can be beneficial. This gives your friend, colleague, or family member peace of mind that the issue will be addressed—just at a later date.
Talk Through Your Feelings
Talking through an issue or expressing your feelings to someone who has a calming effect on you may be beneficial. However, it is important to remember that venting can backfire.
Complaining about your boss, describing all of the reasons you dislike someone, or grumbling about all of your perceived injustices may fuel the fire. One common misconception is that you must express your rage in order to feel better.
However, studies show that you do not need to “let your anger out.” When you are upset, smashing things may actually make you angrier. So, it’s important to use this coping skill with caution.
Similarly, if you are going to talk to a friend, make sure you are working on a solution or reducing your anger rather than just venting. It is unjust to use them as a sounding board. Instead, you may discover that the best way to employ this strategy is to talk about something other than the situation that is making you angry.
Do a Quick Workout
Anger provides a surge of energy. One of the most effective anger management exercises is to exercise and engage in physical activity. Working out, whether it is a brisk walk or a trip to the gym, can help you get rid of stress.
Regular exercise also aids in decompression. Aerobic activity reduces stress, which may help you cope with frustration better. Exercise also allows you to clear your mind. You might find that after a long run or a tough workout, you have a better understanding of what was bothering you.
Focus on the Facts
Angry thoughts add fuel to the fire. “I can not stand it,” you might think. “This traffic jam is going to ruin everything” will aggravate your annoyance. Reframe your thoughts when you find yourself thinking about things that make you angry.
Instead, consider the facts by saying something like, “Every day, millions of cars are on the road.” There will be traffic jams on occasion.” Focusing on the facts, without adding in catastrophic predictions or exaggerated exaggerations, can help you maintain your cool.
You could also create a mantra that you can repeat to drown out the thoughts that are fueling your anger. “I am fine,” she says. Repeating “Stay calm” or “Not helpful” can help you minimize or reduce angry thoughts.
Breathe and Relax
There are numerous relaxation-based anger management exercises. The important thing is to find the one that works best for you. Two common methods for reducing tension are breathing exercises and progressive muscle relaxation.
The best part is that both exercises can be done quickly and quietly. So, whether you are frustrated at work or angry at a dinner invitation, you can release stress quickly and easily.
It should be noted, however, that relaxation exercises require practice. At first, you may not believe they are effective, or you may doubt that they will work for you. They can, however, become your go-to strategies for anger management with practice.
Acknowledge Your Underlying Emotion
It can be beneficial to pause and consider what emotions may be lurking beneath your anger. Anger is frequently used as a protective mask to keep you from experiencing more painful emotions such as embarrassment, sadness, and disappointment.
When someone gives you difficult feedback, for example, you may lash out in anger because you are embarrassed. Convincing yourself that the other person is wrong for criticizing you may make you feel better at the moment by removing your embarrassment. However, acknowledging underlying emotions can assist you in getting to the root of the problem. Then, you can decide to take appropriate action.
For example, if someone cancels plans on you and your underlying emotion is disappointment, rather than lashing out in anger, you could try explaining how the cancellation makes you feel. When you are open about your emotions, you are more likely to find a solution. Responding in anger usually has the opposite effect of pushing people away.
Put together a “Calm Down” Kit.
If you tend to come home from work stressed and take out your frustration on your family, or if you know that workplace meetings irritate you, make a calm-down kit that you can use to relax.
Consider objects that will help you engage all of your senses. You can change your emotional state by looking, hearing, seeing, smelling, and touching calming things. A calm-down kit could include scented hand lotion, a picture of a peaceful landscape, a spiritual passage to read aloud, and a few pieces of your favorite candy. Include things that you know will help you remain calm.
You could also make a virtual calm-down kit that you can carry with you wherever you go. These are items that you can use as needed and are more portable. Calming music and images, guided meditation, or instructions for breathing exercises, for example, could be saved in a special folder on your smartphone.
Why Manage Anger?
Anger is a powerful emotion that can range from mild irritation to rage. While many people think of anger as a “negative emotion,” it can also be positive. Angry feelings may motivate you to advocate for someone or to effect social change.
However, unchecked anger can lead to aggressive behavior, such as yelling at someone or damaging property. Angry feelings can also cause you to withdraw from the world and focus your anger inward, which can have a negative impact on your health and well-being.
Anger becomes a problem when it is felt too frequently or too intensely or when it is expressed in unhealthy ways, which can have physical, mental, and social consequences. As a result, anger management strategies can be helpful in discovering healthy ways to express your feelings.
If your anger has been causing problems in your life and you are struggling to control it on your own, you should seek professional help. Anger management issues can be linked to some mental health problems.
PTSD, for example, has been linked to aggressive behavior. Depressive disorders can also cause irritability and make it more difficult to control one’s anger. It is critical to identify any mental health issues that may be impeding your ability to manage your anger.
Begin by discussing your mood and behavior with a doctor. A doctor will check to see if you have any physical health issues that are contributing to the problem.
A doctor may refer you to a mental health professional for additional assessment. You may attend anger management therapy, depending on your goals and treatment needs, during which you will learn additional anger management therapy techniques and how to implement them in your daily life—especially when you are feeling triggered.
While aggressive behavior may meet your immediate needs, it has long-term consequences. Your words may cause long-term damage to your relationships or even bring them to an end. You are also causing yourself additional stress by lashing out, which can have a negative impact on your overall health.
If you have been using your anger as a weapon, you might benefit from learning healthier coping mechanisms, such as asking for help or speaking up in an assertive, but not aggressive, manner. If you require additional assistance, speak with your doctor about your anger management issues.