EFFECTIVE ANGER MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES TO PRACTICE

So, you may be wondering, How do I become less angry?

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Identify Triggers

If you’ve gotten into the habit of losing your temper, take stock of the things that trigger your anger. Long lines, traffic jams, snarky comments, or excessive tiredness are just a few things that might shorten your fuse.

While you shouldn’t blame people or external circumstances for your inability to keep your cool, understanding the things that trigger your anger can help you plan accordingly.

You might decide to structure your day differently to help you manage your stress better. Or, you might practice some anger management techniques before you encounter circumstances that you usually find distressing. Doing these things can help you lengthen your fuse—meaning that a single frustrating episode won’t set you off.

Consider Whether Your Anger Is Helpful or Unhelpful

Before you spring into action to calm yourself down, ask yourself if your anger is a friend or an enemy. If you’re witnessing someone’s rights being violated or you are in an unhealthy situation, your anger might be helpful.

In these cases, you might proceed by changing the situation rather than changing your emotional state. Sometimes, your anger is a warning sign that something else needs to change—like an emotionally abusive relationship or a toxic friendship.If, however, your anger is causing distress or hurting your relationships, your anger may be an enemy. Other signs of this type of anger include feeling out of control and regretting your words or actions later. In these situations, it makes sense to work on tackling your emotions and calming yourself down.

Step Away From the Triggering Situation

Trying to win an argument or sticking it out in an unhealthy situation will only fuel your anger. One of the best anger management exercises is to remove yourself from the situation if you can.

If there’s someone that you routinely get into heated disputes with, like a friend or family member, talk with them about the importance of taking a time-out and resuming when you’re both feeling calm.

When you need to step away, explain that you aren’t trying to dodge difficult subjects, but that you’re working on managing your anger. You aren’t able to have a productive conversation or resolve conflict when you’re feeling really upset. You can rejoin the discussion or address the issue again when you’re feeling calmer.

Sometimes it helps to set a specific time and place when you can discuss the issue again. Doing so gives your friend, colleague, or family member a sense of peace that the issue will indeed be discussed—just at a later time.

Focus on the Facts

Angry thoughts add fuel to your anger. Thinking things like, “I can’t stand it. This traffic jam is going to ruin everything,” will increase your frustration. When you find yourself thinking about things that fuel your anger, reframe your thoughts.

Instead, think about the facts by saying something like, “There are millions of cars on the road every day. Sometimes, there will be traffic jams.” Focusing on the facts—without adding in catastrophic predictions or distorted exaggerations—can help you stay calmer.

You also might develop a mantra that you can repeat to drown out the thoughts that fuel your anger. Saying, “I’m OK. Stay calm,” or “Not helpful,” over and over again can help you minimize or reduce angry thoughts.

Acknowledge Your Underlying Emotion

Sometimes it helps to take a moment and think about what emotions might be lurking beneath your anger. Anger often serves as a protective mask to help you avoid feeling more painful emotions, like embarrassment, sadness, and disappointment.

When someone gives you feedback that’s hard to hear, for example, you might lash out in anger because you’re embarrassed. Convincing yourself the other person is bad for criticizing you might make you feel better in the moment because it keeps your embarrassment at bay. But acknowledging underlying emotions can help you get to the root of the problem. Then, you can decide to take appropriate action.

For instance, if someone cancels plans on you and your underlying emotion is disappointment, you could try explaining how the cancellation makes you feel rather than lashing out in anger. When you’re honest about your feelings, you’re more likely to resolve the issue. Responding in anger usually doesn’t accomplish anything except pushing people away.

Breathe and Relax

There are many different anger management exercises that involve relaxation. The key is to find the one that works best for you. Breathing exercises and progressive muscle relaxation are two common strategies for reducing tension.

The best part is, both exercises can be performed quickly and discreetly. So whether you’re frustrated at work or you’re angry at a dinner engagement, you can let go of stress quickly and immediately.

It’s important to note, however, that relaxation exercises take practice. At first, you might not feel as though they’re effective, or you might question whether they’re going to work for you. But with practice, they can become your go-to strategies for anger management.

 

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