Anger is a helpful emotion if we learn how to manage it. There are times when we should get angry, especially when our loved ones are threatened or people are facing injustice and cruelty.
Everyone gets angry. Anger is a natural emotion. Getting mad isn’t the problem; how we manage and express and anger is the issue.
Unless we take charge of anger, it takes charge of us. It becomes all-consuming, making us do things that are unhealthy or unwise.
If anger has started to affect your life negatively, it’s time to take charge of your emotions before you hurt yourself or someone you love.
Here are simple steps for coping with anger to channel that energy positively and constructively that supports your life instead of tearing it apart.
Take Slow, Deep Breaths
Deep breathing calms your nervous system and clears your mind, preventing you from reacting rashly.
Slow, deep breathing increases blood flow and oxygen to your brain and throughout your body. It switches you from being hot-headed to cool-headed, helping you do the right thing. The more oxygen you get to your brain, the calmer and more rational you’ll be.
As you breathe in, count slowly to five or ten, hold your breath for a count of five or ten, whichever is most comfortable, and then exhale slowly to a count of five or ten.
Doing this for one to two minutes is all it takes to begin calming your mind, body, and emotions. Deep breathing detaches you and creates space between you and the emotion of anger so you can think clearly; it puts you in control.
Acknowledge & Accept
The more you resist an emotion, the stronger it gets. When you acknowledge and accept that you’re angry, you weaken its grip on you; this works for other emotions too.
Be kind to yourself by reminding yourself that it’s okay to be angry, but it isn’t okay to allow it to harm others or cause negative or destructive consequences.
The goal is to identify what’s triggering your anger. Sometimes it’s past issues that you don’t even remember.
Here are some ways to deal with past hurts that continue affecting your life negatively.
Spend time in thoughtful reflection by journaling your thoughts and feelings
Seek counseling or therapy
Join a support group
Find a cause and volunteer
To manage anger effectively, spend time in quiet reflection (as mentioned above) to evaluate your life so you can have a new perspective on the matter.
Self-reflection is a way to go deeper and discover what lies beneath instead of focusing on surface-level issues.
Self-reflection helps you deal with the situation in a calm and relaxed spirit and a more objective mindset.
Ask yourself what’s causing you to be angry? If it’s a person, did they intentionally try to harm you? Or was it unintentional?
Being objective about the situation is a great coping mechanism because it keeps you from knee-jerk reactions that you’ll regret later.
You’ll be more understanding and open-minded, learning what you can do to reduce the chances of the situation repeating in the future. Maybe you need to have a conversation with someone or make some changes in your life by getting rid of things that no longer serve or support you.
What Are Your Triggers?
Most of us have people, places, or experiences that make us angry. What are some of yours? Try to become aware of your triggers.
Once you’re aware of your triggers, you can take charge of your life and situations to deal with them proactively. For example, if a particular route on your way to work is always jammed with traffic and it frustrates you, putting you in an already lousy mood before showing up for work, why not spare yourself the anger and frustration by choosing a different route? So what if it takes a little longer.
Enjoy Your Life
Often, people get angry because their patience has worn thin due to having very little emotional margin. They’re always busy doing stuff for other people. Their fuse is short before getting out of bed in the morning because they fell asleep feeling overwhelmed and exhausted.
To manage anger effectively, increase your emotional margin by:
Remembering to take time to enjoy your life.
Pursuing activities and hobbies you enjoy.
Living your life, even if it means saying no to something or someone.
Anger is a very intense and disruptive emotion. Enhance your emotional and mental health with creative hobbies like drawing, painting, or playing a musical instrument. You’ll feel less stressed and more content, which means you’ll have less anger.
Remember to give yourself the gift of physical activity, whether biking, strength training, walking, gardening, etc. Increasing blood flood flow and oxygen to your brain and body through physical activity has been shown to boost mood and mental well-being because it releases feel-good hormones.
The next time you’re angry, try to get ahead of your anger by using these tips to take charge of your emotions. You’ll have less stress, improve your life by taking charge of yourself and the situation, and you’ll feel happier and calmer and be more resilient. Only when you take control of your anger, can you begin to unlock your best life.