No matter who you are and how “zen” your lifestyle is, at one time or another, you will experience bouts of anger and associated stress which, if not dealt with appropriately, can wreak havoc on your day-to-day life. It’s essential you learn to identify anger and, ultimately, calm both your mind and body to release unwanted and, sometimes, unnecessary anger, stress and anxiety and reach equilibrium.
Below, we explore the different ways to identify and deal with anger both short and long-term.
The first step to anger management is to identify anger, including the cause of your anger and signs you’re becoming angry. When you become angry, typically, your heart rate speeds up and, as a result, your breathing becomes heavier and quicker. You may even clench your fists or feel particularly tense around your shoulders. As soon as you recognise that you’re feeling angry, remove yourself from the situation that is causing your anger as, often, high levels of emotion can lead to verbal and, sometimes, physical outbursts that are out of character and that you will later regret. If you’re at home or in a public space, get up, walk away and take a breather. If you experience anger at work, it’s important to remain professional so always go to the toilet and take five. Never walk out of your place of work, unless you are being followed and, therefore, unable to remove yourself from a comprising situation.
Once you have removed yourself from the situation, take the time to count to ten, regulate your breathing by breathing in lightly and out heavily and, if you need to, scream aloud to let off emotional steam. Although, try to do so in private. When you feel completely calm, with rationale, think about the situation you’ve just experienced and identify at least three reasons why you felt angry, including the different stages of anger and how that anger was built up. Often, especially in the workplace, anger is fuelled by someone’s comments or actions; however, it may just be a result of overtiredness or other factors in your life, such as troubles at home. Evaluate the different reasons as to why you’re feeling angry. If it helps, write them down. Then, if possible, rather than returning to the situation immediately, take at least an hour to walk around outside, soak in the fresh air and clear your mind.
Once you are happy that you’re no longer angry, return to the situation and explain the reasons as to why you felt angry and had to leave. If you don’t feel comfortable discussing the situation with those involved right away, talk through your feelings with a close friend, colleague or, especially in the workplace, someone from Human Resources. Today, some offices even have ‘quiet zones’ where employees can take a time-out. If your situation is a long-term one, you may want to consider mediation, which is where parties involved in a dispute meet with a mediator to resolve the conflict.
Now you know how to deal with anger, you can make small changes to your lifestyle that will help to manage and reduce both anger and associated stress long-term for a much happier and calmer you.
Look after your mind and body
Often, anger is a result of feeling a little ‘down in the dumps’, which is why you should strive to be your best self both physically and mentally to reduce anger and stress. Exercise is a brilliant way to manage anger as it not only releases tension, but it also gives you time to clear your mind while keeping you fit physically. If you’re not much of a fitness fanatic, try yoga or meditation instead, both of which will help you to relieve anger and stress. Remember, being physical doesn’t have to be strenuous. Something as simple as a twenty-minute walk once a day will help you to feel better.
As part of your work towards a healthier routine, you may want to consider changing your lifestyle and sleeping habits, too. For instance, not getting enough sleep will reduce your productivity and has been proven to increase stress. Your tolerance for small things that can trigger anger, such as questions about things that you’ve previously explained in the workplace, will be reduced if you don’t get enough sleep. Every night, switch off all your tech at least an hour before you want to drift off and, instead, read a book or listen to soothing music. Ideally, should also avoid caffeine, including tea, coffee and chocolate, up to six hours before bed. As a result, you will have a much more restful sleep.
Your diet contributes towards anger, stress and anxiety, too. For instance, research shows that a lack of B vitamins can increase feelings of anxiety and depression. Every day, make sure you’re drinking plenty of water and eating fruit and vegetables, too. Try and avoid fatty, sugary and salty foods as they do not only make you feel anxious but, long-term, they will lead to weight gain and, possibly, skin blemishes which can give your confidence a beating and contribute towards both anger and stress.
Embrace your inner artist
One of the best ways to deal with anger and associated stress is to get creative. If you’re feeling unhappy about something, write it down. Better still, relieve stress through dance or even painting. Making music and playing an instrument has also been found to reduce symptoms of depression and stress. Whichever activity you choose, let your feelings out through an effective creative outlet.
Talk it through
You may have heard it a thousand times before; however, we’re going to reiterate the message: the best way to deal with your feelings is to talk them through. That’s right, to help you deal with anger and associated stress, the best thing you can do is to talk them through with someone you trust. Keeping your feelings bottled up will do you and the people around you no favours. You need to learn to speak openly and with honesty. If you feel like you can’t talk to the people around you, try seeing a therapist once a month, for instance. Remember, therapy isn’t the same as counselling: a therapist will only listen and offer advice. A therapist is not there to judge you or to ‘cure’ you. Anger is natural.
No matter how often you experience anger, always identify the source of your anger and take the necessary steps to dealing with your anger and, long-term, reduce feelings of anger, stress and anxiety. For a healthier and happier you, up your fitness and keep your mind calm through meditation or yoga. Always talk through your feelings with someone you trust and never let anger get the better of you.