While it's true that venting your anger can be cathartic, setting boundaries for just how far your rant will go can make all the difference between your angry feelings being purged satisfactorily and your rage being escalated further. Anger is an adopted behavior that takes on many forms including verbal, physical, and emotional outbursts. It can have extremely stressful effects on your life, as well as the lives of those around you.
Explore Your Anger to Gain Control
Anger management has two parts: knowledge and control. Once you understand your anger, you will be able to gain control of it. The best way to start identifying the root causes of your anger is to recognize your most common stress triggers. It may be surprising to hear, but self-knowledge and acceptance are often the hardest parts of anger management for people to reconcile.
If you've spent years in a cycle of hostility, your stress level may be on such a constant high that you don't realize what specific occurrences have a tendency to set your rage off. For everything that upsets you, your anxiety level increases, and before it can go down, something else makes you angry. This vicious cycle can be stopped by directly confronting and diffusing the origin of your anger.
Simple Options to Control Anger
Controlling your anger can be done in several ways. These options are the first steps one can take to immediately release their anger. However, in order to gain control of your anger long-term, you need to explore your feelings and thoughts to learn why you get angry. It's difficult to do this when you are upset. These techniques can be used so you can immediately diffuse the anger and work through it when you are calm.
If one approach doesn't work, there are always other anger management techniques you can try. Keep in mind, however, that you must give your actions enough time to take full effect. The goal is to not give up until you find the solution that works best for you.
A very effective way to control hostility or anger is through a combination of muscle relaxation and controlled deep breathing. Your body responds to anger physiologically, such as increase in blood pressure or stomach upset. Therefore, you can deliberately lower them, and consequently your anger, by practicing relaxation techniques.
To help bring your body back to a state of physiological equilibrium you can:
- Perform yoga. Yoga incorporates deep breathing, strength, and stretching to help relieve the stress associated with anger.
- Receive a massage. A massage stimulates relaxation. While it's not a long-term solution, it will help you calm down so you can observe what's going on inside.
- Listen to music or take a bath. These can be incorporated into an overall plan to reduce your anger.
- Practice hypnosis and meditation. Part of hypnosis and meditation is achieving a super-relaxed state. After this, we can explore our feelings in depth.
- Practice imagery or visualization. As with other relaxation techniques, this tactic can help address the physiological reactions to stress to help bring our bodies back to a state of equilibrium.
- Do tai chi. Preliminary studies show that practicing tai chi is associated with decreased levels of anger.
- Exercise. Exercise helps blow off steam and can be a great release valve for your anger.
- Go to a relaxing place, such as relaxation ponds, or relaxation clinics. These places create a relaxing atmosphere to help people de-stress and regain their equilibrium.
Another way to manage your anger is through humor, according to the Mayo Clinic. Through the use of jokes or by simply laughing out loud, you can release a tremendous amount of stress without causing harm to yourself or others.
Besides helping you get a balanced perspective on the situation that has caused your anger, you can also learn not to take yourself so seriously. Ways to incorporate humor into your life include:
- Watching or reading cartoons
- Telling jokes
- Writing humorous poems or jokes
- Visualizing the person you are mad at in a silly situation
Using words to calm yourself down before an outburst can be a good thing. Find a key word, such as "calm" or "relax," and repeat it to yourself every time you want to burst out with an angry comment. Besides communicating with yourself, using acceptable verbal expressions with others are appropriate ways to control anger.
Others around you will appreciate hearing a calm person speak clearly about their feelings, rather than someone who is out of control.
Keep a Journal
Journal about your anger. Keep track of anger episodes, and then write down the reason why you became upset. Don't just think about the incident itself, but also make notes about what happened before it. Your reaction to an event often has a lot to do with what happened directly leading up to it.
Write down how you feel physically as well because the physical response to stress can happen before you feel it emotionally. After a few days, go back and read about what made you angry.
You also want to consider common anger themes. You may start to notice that when a certain person comes around you, you have a hard time dealing with situations. Reflect on these themes, and consider their effect on your mood and emotions.
Identify Physical Reactions to Stress and Anger
Try to pinpoint the physiological responses you had to each episode. You may have felt your heart racing, sweating, or your face turning red. Knowing your physical responses to anger will help you anticipate the oncoming rage, and take action to control it.
More ways to manage your anger include:
- Praying. Scientific America reports that studies support the effectiveness of praying on anger. People behave less aggressively after praying when compared with people who did not pray.
- Talking to a friend. Friends might have a different point of view and help you process the situation in a different way.
- Progressive muscle relaxation. This technique is often used for anger management, and helps connect your awareness of your physiological reactions to the stress associated with anger.
- Letting go of perfectionism. A study in Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences correlated anger with perfectionistic tendencies in people. This includes both the expectations of other people and self-expectations.
- Drink water. The American Diabetes Association recommends taking a cool glass of water to calm down. This might give you just enough time to take control of your anger before you lash out with a knee-jerk reaction.
- Sleep. It's difficult to maintain a level head when you feel too tired to do anything else. Taking a rest or improving your quality of sleep might help you feel better equipped to handle your anger.
Use What You've Learned
When you are in a stressful situation and you feel your body reacting, you need to take steps to control it. This is how you start to manage your anger. If taking the proper steps to handle your anger doesn't work and you feel that you really are out of control, then you need to seek counseling. A professional can offer a variety of therapeutic techniques and/or medications to help you manage your anger.