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Do you fume when someone cuts you off in traffic? Does your blood pressure rocket when your child refuses to cooperate? Anger is a normal and even healthy emotion — but it's important to deal with it in a positive way. Uncontrolled anger can take a toll on both your health and your relationships.
Ready to get your anger under control? Start by considering these anger management tips.
Count down (or up) to 10. If you’re really mad, start at 100. In the time it takes you to count, your heart rate will slow, and your anger will likely subside.
Take a breather
Your breathing becomes shallower and speeds up as you grow angry. Reverse that trend (and your anger) by taking slow, deep breaths from your nose and exhaling out of your mouth for several moments.
Go walk around
Exercise can help calm your nerves and reduce anger. Go for a walk, ride your bike, or hit a few golf balls. Anything that gets your limbs pumping is good for your mind and body.
Relax your muscles
Progressive muscle relaxation calls on you to tense and slowly relax various muscle groups in your body, one at a time. As you tense and release, take slow, deliberate breaths.
Repeat a mantra
Find a word or phrase that helps you calm down and refocus. Repeat that word again and again to yourself when you’re upset. “Relax,” “Take it easy, and “You’ll be okay” are all good examples.
Neck rolls and shoulder rolls are good examples of nonstrenuous yoga-like movements that can help you control your body and harness your emotions. No fancy equipment required.
Slip into a quiet room, close your eyes, and practice visualising yourself in a relaxing scene. Focus on details in the imaginary scene: What colour is the water? How tall are the mountains? What do the chirping birds sound like? This practice can help you find calm amidst anger.
Play some tunes
Let music carry you away from your feelings. Put in earbuds or slip out to your car. Crank up your favourite music and hum, bop, or sashay your anger away.
When you’re steamed, you may be tempted to let the angry words fly, but you’re more likely to do harm than good. Pretend your lips are glued shut, just like you did as a kid. This moment without speaking will give you time to collect your thoughts.
Take a timeout
Give yourself a break. Sit away from others. In this quiet time, you can process events and return your emotions to neutral. You may even find this time away from others is so helpful you want to schedule it into your daily routine.
Write in your journal
What you can’t say, perhaps you can write. Jot down what you’re feeling and how you want to respond. Processing it through the written word can help you calm down and reassess the events leading up to your feelings.
Find the most immediate solution
You might be angry that your child has once again left their room a mess before going to visit a friend. Shut the door. You can temporarily end your anger by putting it out of your view. Look for similar resolutions in any situations.
Rehearse your response
Prevent an outburst by rehearsing what you’re going to say or how you’re going to approach the problem in the future. This rehearsal period gives you time to role-play several possible solutions, too.
Talk to a friend
Don’t stew in the events that made you angry. Help yourself process what happened by talking with a trusted, supportive friend who can possibly provide a new perspective.
Nothing upends a bad mood like a good one. Diffuse your anger by looking for ways to laugh, whether that’s playing with your kids, watching stand-up, or scrolling memes.
Try to walk in the other person’s shoes and see the situation from their perspective. When you tell the story or relive the events as they saw it, you may gain a new understanding and become less angry.
Find a creative channel
Turn your anger into a tangible production. Consider painting, gardening, or writing poetry when you’re upset. Emotions are powerful muses for creative individuals. Use yours to reduce anger.
The bottom line
It is a normal emotion that everyone experiences from time to time. However, if you find your emotions turns to aggression or outbursts, you need to find healthy ways to deal with them.
If these tips don’t help, consider talking with your doctor. A mental health specialist or therapist can help you work through underlying factors that may contribute to anger and other emotional issues.
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