How to control your anger
Everybody gets angry, but out-of-control rage isn’t good for you or those around you. But learning to relax, adjusting the way you think, focusing on the problem and using better communication skills can make a big difference in the way you cope with anger.
Here are some tips to help you ‘simmer down.’
Simple relaxation tools can help calm down angry feelings.
- Breathe deeply. Picture your breath coming up from your ‘gut.’
- Slowly repeat a calming word or phrase such as ‘take it easy.’
- Use imagery; visualize a relaxing experience from your memory or your imagination.
- Non-strenuous, slow exercises such as yoga can relax your muscles and make you feel much calmer.
- Practice these techniques daily. Learn to use them when you’re tense.
Changing the way you think
When you’re angry, your thinking can get exaggerated. Try replacing these thoughts with more reasonable ones. For instance, instead of telling yourself, ‘Oh, it’s awful, everything’s ruined,’ tell yourself, ‘It’s frustrating, and it’s understandable that I’m upset about it, but it’s not the end of the world and getting angry is not going to fix it.’
Be careful of words like ‘never’ or ‘always.’ They tend to make you feel that your anger is justified and that there’s no way to solve the problem. They also alienate people. Avoid saying things like, “You’re always late!” Instead, state the problem and try to find a solution.
Remind yourself that the world is not ‘out to get you,’ you’re just experiencing some of the rough spots of daily life.
Sometimes our anger and frustration are caused by very real and inescapable problems. Often anger is a healthy, natural response. The best attitude to bring such a situation is to focus on how to handle and face the problem.
Resolve to give it your best, but also not to punish yourself if an answer doesn’t come right away. Try not to lose patience and fall into all-or-nothing thinking.
Slow down and think your responses through. Don’t say the first thing that comes into your head; instead, listen carefully to what the other person is saying and take your time before answering. Keeping your cool can keep the situation from becoming disastrous.
Some other tips for easing up:
- Timing. If you and your spouse tend to fight when you discuss things at night–perhaps you’re tired, or distracted–try changing the times when you talk about important matters so these talks don’t turn into arguments.
- Avoidance. If you get furious every time you walk by your child’s chaotic room, shut the door. The point is to keep yourself calm.
- Finding alternatives. If your daily commute through traffic leaves you in a state of rage and frustration, perhaps you could find a different route, one that’s less congested or more scenic. Or take a bus or ride your bike.
American Psychological Association
Charles Spielberger, Ph.D., of the University of South Florida in Tampa
Jerry Deffenbacher, Ph.D., of Colorado State University in Ft. Collins, Colorado