Anger can be a normal response to challenging situations. Often, anger sends the important message that something isn’t right, and you need to take action. However, anger becomes problematic when it is more intense than situations warrant, when it frequently flares up, and when it affects your overall well-being and ability to be productive. Here are a few techniques to try if you struggle to tame your temper:
- Take a timeout: When you feel your blood pressure rising, or you worry you might say or do something destructive, step back. Go for a walk, run an errand, or complete a chore. The point is to give yourself a chance to exit the stressful situation. Take this time to breathe, and to allow your emotions to settle.
- Brainstorm solutions: When things upset us, the natural tendency is to blame others, and hope they will change. Instead, try to adjust either your own behaviour or your environment. For example, if your co-worker is consistently late to 9AM meetings, move the meetings later in the day. If you become highly frustrated by long lineups at the grocery store, consider getting your groceries delivered. These steps will empower you, and provide a greater sense of control; by extension, your anger may subside.
- Use relaxation strategies: Deep breathing and guided imagery can help ease angry feelings. Mindfulness meditation accomplishes the same goal. Gentle, yoga-like exercises can relax your muscles and help you feel calmer. Practice these techniques daily, and learn to use them in tense situations.
- Work on your communication skills: When angry, people often jump to conclusions – and consequently blurt out hurtful comments. Try not to become defensive if you’re being criticized; rather, listen to the other person’s underlying message. Ask more questions, and verify that you truly understand their side of the story. In this way, you’ll be able to formulate a measured, helpful response that will further the dialogue.
- Make sure you’re getting enough rest and nourishment: When we’re sleep-deprived or hungry, we become more irritable. Making sure your basic needs are met will reduce the likelihood of angry flare-ups.
Have you tried these tips, and you’re still struggling with anger? Long-term, unresolved anger is related to various health conditions, such as high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, and heart disease. Perhaps it goes without saying, but people with difficulty managing their anger also report that the quality of their relationships is poor. If you feel helpless to manage your anger, independently, reach out for help from a professional. Clinicians at Lightwell are trained in evidence-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy anger management methods.