Anger as an emotion is neither good nor bad. It is a messenger. It can provide energy and motivate you to action. But anger by itself has never solved a problem.
The trouble with anger rests on how you respond to its message. Ideally, you want to harness that energy for finding constructive solutions to the situation. But in the midst of seeing red, that can be hard to do.
Use these strategies to short-circuit your anger before it gets out of hand.
- Know your physical signs of anger. A faster heart rate. Sudden heat. Tense muscles/jaw. A knot in the stomach. Once you learn the signs, you’ll be better prepared to interrupt an escalation when you start feeling irritated, frustrated, or annoyed.
- Take a time out. Remove yourself from the situation. Go for a walk around the block if you can. Or at least to the bathroom or the back porch. Counteract the fight-or-flight response with slow, deep breathing.
- Get some exercise. Burn off the adrenaline of anger through movement. Again, a brisk walk is great! Or put on some dance music and move!
- Focus on your senses. Concentrate on the sensations in your body. This reduces the intensity of your emotions. What are you seeing? Smelling? How does your body feel?
- Count to ten. If you can’t physically create distance, at least give your logical mind some time to catch up with your emotions. Count to ten before you say or do something you will regret later.
Seek solutions when you are calm. You don’t have to bury your anger. But let it chill for a bit. The conversation and solutions you explore later will be much more fruitful if you do.
If you feel your anger is out of control, seek professional help. Don’t let the destructive side of anger make things worse.