TW: If you or someone you know is experiencing violent thoughts or actions due to anger, please stop and connect with these help now resources.
Anger can emerge in many forms: from the slow buildup of upsetting situations to a sudden, unexpected event. Anger is usually considered an unpleasant experience and can be particularly distressing if it interferes with our routines. Additionally, the symptoms of anger can vary widely. Symptoms of anger include, but are not limited to, feeling hot and/or sweaty, yelling, cursing, being tongue tied, and in extreme cases, physically violent. Despite this unpleasant experience, the good news is that anger is manageable. Today we are going to discuss five anger management tips that you start to you to feel calm and collected.
Ask Yourself: What is Hurting Me?
Anger and hurt are related emotions, and oftentimes, we are angry because we feel hurt. Think of it like a clam with a pearl. Our anger usually represents the harder exterior, and what other people will see and experience. Yet, if we “unlock” this exterior, the core pit is the pearl, which is hurt.
Take the following hypothetical example:
Jennifer had a long day. She woke up, prepared breakfast, packed lunch for herself, her husband, and her daughter, and went to work. At her job, she had to navigate several angry clients who took their frustration towards the company out on her. After navigating these situations, she picked up her daughter from school. At home she cleaned and helped her daughter with homework. Eventually, her husband Ben comes home. Ben notices that dinner isn’t ready says “I am not sure why dinner isn’t ready, you don’t have a lot to do during the day.”
Jennifer feels anger. She wants to cry and yell at him to do it himself, to go and live a day in her shoes. She feels inclined to call him names. Instead, Jennifer takes a step back. She explains to her husband that statement hurts her feelings because it invalidates all the hard work she has done all day. Ben is confused, but apologizes saying he doesn’t understand, but he would never mean to hurt her.
When using a hurt lens to explain anger, oftentimes it can be easier to have a conversation about what is happening. Next time you feel angry, ask, what is hurting me? What can I articulate to others so that we can navigate this together?
Take a Break
Taking a break is a great way to cool down and recollect. A key to this strategy, however, is what you do with your time while you are taking a break. Let’s look at the following hypothetical:
Jack and his girlfriend decided to move in together, but they can’t agree on a place to live. His girlfriend would like an apartment with a nice view, but it is a much longer commute for Jack to get to work. Neither Jack nor his girlfriend can agree on the matter, which makes him angry. Jack decides to take a break and revisit the conversation later.
Which of the following do you think would be a better use of Jack’s time to effectively lower his anger?:
Jack calls a friend, venting about the situation, at one point saying “she’s crazy and stubborn, I don’t get why she doesn’t understand.”
Jack goes ride his bike which he enjoys doing, drink water, come back, and shower.
In this case, the second option would probably be better. In the first, Jack is not only name calling, which will not help the situation, but also is trying to persuade someone else to see the problem from his side, instead of trying to navigate the situation fairly. These kinds of strategies often feel good in the moment, but do not help the situation long term. Instead, strategies like the second option, help regulate the physical and emotional symptoms of various feelings, which will make Jack feel better and help him think more clearly.
Next time you use this strategy, how will you take a break?
Setting Boundaries to Avoid Resentment
Resentment can be a big factor when it comes to anger. Have you ever had your phone ring and you thought to yourself, “what do they want from me now?” When we give more than we are capable of, we can develop resentments and frustrations towards others. This where setting boundaries and saying no can help. Let’s look at the following hypothetical:
Peter got a call from work saying one of his colleagues called out, again, and that he needs to come in on a day he wasn’t scheduled to work. Peter feels anger rising, but instead of raising his voice he says instead, “I can’t today. I came in last week when there was a call out, but unfortunately today I have another engagement I cannot change.”
When setting boundaries you do not owe others an explanation. Simply saying “not this time” or “unfortunately I can’t” will also do.
Movement is another great way to cope with anger. By moving our bodies, we are releasing the energy that comes with anger. With practicing movement strategies, we often feel better afterwards because we are alleviating the physical symptoms of anger.
There is no “right” movement for this strategy. Whether your movement of choice is a particular sport or yoga, do what feels good for you!
Cool Water Strategies
The last strategy which will discuss today are cool water strategies. Please note for this one if you have a medical condition affected by temperature please consult with a physician before trying these strategies.
Utilizing cool water can provide a “shock” to the system when we feel angry that can help navigate anger in the short term before processing the situation. Try taking a cool shower, running your wrists or splashing your face with cool water, or holding an ice cube in your hand.
Anger can be challenging to navigate, which is why you do not have to do it alone. Here at online-therapy, we have counseling who specialize in anger management who would love to help you on your wellness journey.
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