If your outbursts, rages or bullying are negatively affecting relationships with family, friends, co-workers and even complete strangers, it’s time to change the way you express your anger. You can take steps on your own to improve your anger management.
Anger Management Tips
Here are some anger management tips to help get your anger under control:
Take a ‘‘time out.” Although it may seem cliche, counting to 10 before reacting, or leaving the situation altogether, really can defuse your temper.
Do something physically exerting. Physical activity can provide an outlet for your emotions, especially if you’re about to erupt. Go for a brisk walk or a run, swim, lift weights or shoot baskets.
Find ways to calm and soothe yourself. Practice deep-breathing exercises, visualize a relaxing scene, or repeat a calming word or phrase to yourself, such as ‘‘take it easy.” You can also listen to music, paint, journal or do yoga.
Once you’re calm, express your anger as soon as possible so that you aren’t left stewing. If you simply can’t express your anger in a controlled manner to the person who angered you, try talking to a family member, friend, counselor or another trusted person.
Think carefully before you say anything so that you don’t end up saying something you’ll regret. Write a script and rehearse it so that you can stick to the issues.
Work with the person who angered you to identify solutions to the situation.
Use ‘‘I” statements when describing the problem to avoid criticizing or placing blame. For instance, say ‘‘I’m upset you didn’t help with the housework this evening,” instead of, ‘‘You should have helped with the housework.” To do otherwise will likely upset the other person and escalate tensions.
Don’t hold a grudge. Forgive the other person. It’s unrealistic to expect everyone to behave exactly as you want.
Use humor to release tensions, such as imagining yourself or the other person in silly situations. Don’t use sarcasm, though — it’s just another form of unhealthy expression.
Keep an anger log to identify the kinds of situations that set you off and to monitor your reactions.
Practice relaxation skills. Learning skills to relax and de-stress can also help control your temper when it may flare up.
Sticking with anger management skills
It may take some time and intense effort to put these tips into practice when you’re facing situations that typically send you into a rage. In the heat of the moment, it can be hard to remember your coping strategies.
You may need to keep something with you that serves as a reminder to step back from the situation and get your anger under control. For instance, you may want to keep a small, smooth stone in your pocket or a scrap of paper with your tips written down. With due diligence, these anger management techniques will come more naturally and you’ll no longer need such reminders.
Getting professional anger management help
You can practice many of these anger management strategies on your own. But if your anger seems out of control, is hurting your relationships or has escalated into violence, you may benefit from seeing a psychotherapist or an anger management professional. Role playing in controlled situations, such as anger management classes, can help you practice your techniques.