- Anger is a normal (and even healthy) emotion to experience—however, sometimes we react inappropriately and could learn how to manage our anger more effectively.
- First, take a few minutes to just breathe; once you’ve done so, readjust your focus and try to understand what lies at the root of your anger.
- When it comes to talking about your feelings, use “I” statements to explain what you’re feeling and why—this will help to prevent angry outbursts.
- Also, focus on what’s in your control, rather than what is not; for example, you can’t change that you missed a deadline but you can better manage your organizational skills.
- Mindful journaling might also help you to better understand and express your anger: this technique ensures you really feel your feelings.
- Finally, consider working with a professional: there are mental health professionals who specialize in anger manage and would love to help you.
This morning when I was getting ready for work, I became enraged at the silliest thing: I couldn’t get my hair to look halfway decent in a ponytail. This made for an overall stressful morning, as I was focused solely on the mess that lay atop my head. I stomped into the kitchen to make my breakfast, I angrily brushed my teeth, and I moped all the way to work.
I know—how ridiculous! But here’s the thing: we all have these days. We all get infuriated by trivial things, and we overreact. Now, there’s another thing we have in common here: we all also have the ability to better manage that anger. Whether it stems from something silly, like the way your hair looks, or something more serious, like getting let go unexpectedly from your job, you can learn to express your anger more effectively. Whatever the case may be, the following tips will help you do just that:
- Just breathe.
First, if you can feel that anger bubbling up inside, take a few minutes to yourself to just breathe. “Sit down, in any position you’d like, and breathe,” Caleb Backe, health and wellness expert at Maple Holistics, advises. “When thoughts and feelings come to you, notice them and observe them. Don’t judge or attach yourself to them. You can be with eyes closed or open, you can breathe any way you’d like. You can play music in the background or sit in the silence—the important thing is that you are in the present moment and are not attempting to force anything on your mind.”
- Take some time to think.
Once you’ve taken some time to focus on your breathing, put some energy into sorting out your feelings. Think: what’s really the root cause of your anger? “Sometimes things trigger aggressive outbursts because we don’t give ourselves enough time to process our emotional reactions,” Dr. Bryan Bruno, medical director at Mid City TMS, explains. “Stressors at home, at work, or with friends can built into outbursts of anger when acted on impulsively. It’s best to take things slowly to avoid unwanted conflicts caused by upsetting feelings.”
- Use “I” statements to express yourself.
Another effective tip, as recommended by Licensed Professional Counselor Lakeisha Russel, is to use “I” statements when speaking out about your anger: “When we begin to take ownership of our emotions, using ‘I’ statements will help decrease those angry outbursts or becoming easily irritated. For example, if you’re talking to a coworker or a spouse, instead of using accusatory tones to say things like, ‘You didn’t do that,’ or ‘You didn’t do this,’ use, ‘I feel like this because…’”
- Focus on what’s in your control.
It’s also helpful to focus on what’s in your control and to accept what isn’t. Kimberly Hershenson, licensed master social worker, gives an example: “Make a list of what you can’t control regarding your situation (e.g., deadlines, your boss yelling at you) and what you can control (e.g., managing your time, setting up a meeting with your boss to discuss your issue). Focus on what you can control to make change and accept what you cannot control.”
- Do some mindful journaling.
“Mindful journaling is also an excellent way to keep your anger in check,” says Dr. Sal Raichbach PsyD, licensed clinical social worker. “The idea is to record your emotions as you’re feeling them and write your way through the process of feeling, accepting, and letting it go. When you’re angry, putting pen to paper forces you to recognize and feel your emotions without having an outburst. Plus, the act of writing is calming in itself, especially when it is entirely expressive.”
- Ask for help.
Lastly, consider meeting with a mental health professional to learn about your anger and how to better manage your outbursts. “Many of us have been raised to believe that angry feelings are not welcome while most other emotions are invited in, including happiness, fear, sadness, worry, surprise, and anticipation,” Dr. Fran Walfish, a family and relationship psychotherapist, explains. “When not expressed, the anger builds up internally. The person either becomes explosive or holds it in and feels tremendous anxiety containing powerful unpleasant emotions. If this is you, you may benefit from a series of therapy sessions to learn how to express strong feelings directly in the moment so that they don’t build up and sabotage your own ability to stay balanced and calm in your everyday life.”