What is your relationship like with anger?
How many times have you said something in anger that you wish you could take back? I know I have. Too many times to count and I know I'm not alone.
You know the feeling. You get upset about something, and before you know it, you're yelling at someone who didn't deserve it. Or maybe you said something hurtful to a friend or family member—or worse, your significant other.
It only takes a few seconds to cause a lot of damage and pain. Therefore, avoiding this type of situation is a good enough reason for all of us to work on our anger management skills and it's why learning how to manage your emotions is so important!
Anger is a natural, normal and healthy emotion that helps us to stand up for ourselves and others when we need to. However, it can be destructive when it causes us to lose control over our actions, which often leads us down paths that are not in our best interests or in the best interests of those around us. If not managed properly, it can also cause us to act in ways that are out of character, or that hurt those we love and ourselves.
But what if there was a way to prevent these situations from happening? What if there was a way for us all to have more control over our emotions?
Well, there is! Here are five strategies to help you manage your anger in healthy ways:
1. Pay attention/monitor negative emotions.
If you catch them early, they’re much easier to manage. Anger is triggered by an external force, but it is up to the individual to manage his or her emotional response. When I feel angry, I move away from the source of my anger and focus on a new environment. I also practice breathwork; mainly deep inhalations through the nose accompanied by slow exhalations through the mouth. Two of my favorite breathwork techniques is box breathing - 4 count square and the 4-7-8 breathing. Also, it's important to work on not taking things too personally. Remember that the people around you aren't always going to agree with you or like what you have to say. Even when they disagree, it doesn't mean that they're trying to hurt your feelings or intentionally be rude. There are many reasons why people behave in certain ways and it's usually not about us. Therefore, there is no point in getting upset over something that someone else did or said, especially if they were just being honest about their feelings or opinions. You can't control the other person's emotions; however, you can have the social awareness and ability to control/manage your own which in turn can promote shared understanding and respect.
2. Avoid grudges and resentment.
Holding a grudge is like carrying around a little ticking bomb that goes off every time something reminds you of the person or incident that caused your anger. When you hold on to a grudge, you're not just hurting the other person. You're hurting yourself. I know it's hard to let go of anger and forgive, but the benefits are worth it. When you let go of that grudge and stop holding onto that negative energy, you'll feel better about yourself, and you can move on with your life! Additionally, holding on to resentment is like consuming poison. Resentment will not hurt the other person, but it will hurt you in the long run. If someone has wronged you, it's easy to fall into the trap of holding onto all those negative feelings inside until they fester into something much bigger than they started out as. Again, letting go of those feelings will help you to heal faster and move forward with your life rather than dwelling on what happened in the past.
3. Express your feelings without being overly emotional.
It’s important to be aware of your own feelings and to share them in healthy ways. For example, when you are faced with an everyday matter at home or at work, try sharing your thoughts or feelings calmly instead of letting them build up.
Don't blame others for what you're feeling. Also, practice being more assertive by saying what you mean and meaning what you say. Here are a few tips to help you express your feelings in a way that doesn't hurt the other person:
Use "I" statements rather than "you" statements.
Try not to use phrases like "you make me feel..." or "you should have..." instead say "I feel like..." or "I need/appreciate your..."
When possible, let the other person speak first so you can actively listen and hear what they have to say. Remember to listen to hear and not to respond.
4. Practice relaxation techniques.
When I get angry, I take a few deep breaths and perform some mindful stretches to relax my muscles. By using the mind-body connection, I am able to release tension throughout my body, which allows me to calm down faster. Once I feel calmer, I think about why I am angry and focus on finding a solution to the problem that caused my anger in the first place. Here are a few easy stretches that you can do to relieve tension (remember to control your breathing and to do each stretch slowly):
Neck circles/rotations - You can perform standing or seated in a chair. Keep your back/spine in a neutral position (do not arch your back), pull your shoulders back and down, and brace your core. Then rotate your neck slowly - 3x clockwise then counterclockwise.
Single-arm shoulder rotations (full range of motion) - You can perform standing or seated in a chair. Keep your back/spine and neck in alignment, pull your shoulders back and down, arms straight down by your side with palms inward, and brace your core. Then inhale and gently swing your arm forward using full range of motion (arm straight do not bend elbow). Once your arm reached the top and is in alignment with your body, rotate arm with palm facing outward, exhale, slow swing your arm back to the start position. Perform 3x on each side. NOTE: Do not perform this stretching exercise if you have shoulder pain or limited range of motion.
Upward Salute (Sun salutation - Yoga Pose) - Stand with feet parallel and slightly apart. Arms straight by your the side with palms facing forward. Inhale and sweep your arms overhead with palms facing upward in a wide arc. Bring your palms together at the top, tilt your head back slightly and gaze at your thumbs. Then exhale, bring your head forward in alignment with your body and lower your arms in wide arcs back to your side.
5. Seek professional help.
It's ok to feel angry. It is a normal human emotion that we all have from time to time. However, if the above strategies don't seem to be working for you and you find yourself getting angry more often than not or are unsure of how to handle your anger in the moment, then it's time to seek professional help. Despite what some people may say, seeking out a therapist or trained professional doesn't mean that something is wrong with you—it just means that you're ready to learn how to manage your anger in a healthier way that doesn't hurt others or yourself - mentally, emotionally and/or physically. So don't hesitate to reach out for professional assistance. You deserve it and you are worth it!
Whether we like it or not, anger is a part of life. However, the way in which it manifests itself will help determine how we feel, how others perceive us, and the quality of our relationships with all those around us. By being mindful of your emotions and acting responsibly when expressing them, you can effectively manage and transform anger in a healthy way to elevate your well-being.
What strategies or techniques do you use to manage your anger?
Also, Check out this Gallup Global Emotions Report, which shows the stats behind positive and negative emotions experienced daily across the world.