Handling Anger

Anger is a natural emotion that helps you to protect yourself. There’s no shame in experiencing anger, though handling it effectively is important to your well-being and the quality of your relationships.

Here is a suggested 4-step process on how to handle your anger next time it arises:

Step 1: Breathe deeply and slowly for a whole minute. Before you roll your eyes and skip past this one, understand that doing diaphragmatic breathing (deep, belly breaths) is one of the quickest ways to calm down your body and mind. Breathe in through your nose, out through your mouth, and relax your muscles on the breath out. Give your mind permission to fully focus on this task for one minute.

Step 2: Check in with yourself. Are you hungry? Tired? What factors are contributing to the way that you feel right now? See if you can identify a need and work toward fulfilling that need for yourself.

Step 3: Express the anger constructively! Here are some ideas:

– Put in some headphones and crank up your angry playlist

– Punch and/or scream into a pillow

– Do a few minutes of intense exercise, like a run or HIIT.

– Write or draw your thoughts and feelings. Maybe take a crayon and scribble up an entire piece of paper and then write the things that make you angry on top.

Step 4: Check in on your mindset. Once you’ve settled your nervous system a bit, you’ll likely be open to a new perspective of the situation.

Are you making one of the following common thinking mistakes?

  • Over-identifying with the situation. For example, viewing someone disagreeing with you as an attack on your character. Often, the need to be right causes more stress than it’s worth.
  • Taking the actions of others personally. Everyone has their own life experiences, beliefs, and triggers. Even if someone is personally attacking you, it says more about them than you.
  • Needing things to go your way. This is an unrealistic expectation to maintain, and it will only cause you suffering.

If you can remember to just do step 1 in the moment of feeling angry, that alone is a huge step forward in being able to effectively manage your emotion. Making it all the way to step 4 is a truly impressive feat, so be kind to yourself as you do the work toward living a calmer, happier life

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