We don’t have to accept destructive anger-driven behavior, and, perhaps more importantly, neither should others. There is a wealth of literature and advice available to regain control of our emotions.
Anger is a real problem in society. Studies suggest that “eight percent of the adult population find it hard to control their temper,” and any of us can develop an anger problem (Dyer, 2020, p. 14).
There are, however, several tips that can start or keep us on the path to managing our emotions. We’ve included some of the best below (modified from Dyer, 2020).
Identify if you have an anger problem
While a degree of anger is normal and at times helpful in our lives, we need to ask ourselves if we get consumed by rage. For example, do we lose control when we feel disrespected or see someone else treated poorly?
Key indications of a serious anger problem include the following (Dyer, 2020):
- Your anger feels too strong to handle.
- You are angry regularly.
- You get angry over things that don’t seem to affect other people.
- Your anger affects your relationships and work.
- Your anger turns to aggression or violence.
- You engage in unhealthy coping mechanisms to handle your behavior.
Recognizing there is a problem is the first step toward change (Karmin, 2017).
Learn to cope with your emotions
Finding techniques that help you cope with strong emotions and break the anger cycle is an essential next step in anger management (Dyer, 2020).
Out-of-control anger means that your emotions are dictating your behavior. Dyer (2020) offers several techniques to regain mastery over feelings and avoid acting in a destructive or harmful way.
- Distance yourself
Physically removing yourself from an emotional situation can immediately bring relief. However, if that’s not possible, psychological distance can help. Imagining someone else experiencing the problem or looking in on yourself can help you respond more rationally.
- Practice deep breathing
Breathing slowly and deeply is a powerful method for restoring logical, less emotional thinking and encouraging feelings of relaxation (Nestor, 2020).
- Ask for time out
Before you do or say something regrettable, excuse yourself. Get a few minutes away from the heat of the situation to regain composure and more logical thinking.
- Engage in physical activity
In the heat of anger, your body is on fire with endorphins and stress hormones that prepare you for action. Take a walk, ideally outside, to restore physical (as well as mental) balance.
- Change your posture and facial expression
Surprisingly, altering your body language can be effective at changing how others see you and how you feel. Relaxing your arms and shoulders and unclenching your fists can help (Cuddy, 2018).
If you can see the humor in the situation and it’s appropriate, laughter can create a temporary distraction or change a tense dynamic.
- Play calming or happy music
Listening to bright or relaxing music can be distracting and an effective way to decompress.