Medically reviewed by Timothy J. Legg, PhD, CRNP; Written by Kimberly Holland
Anger is a normal feeling and can be a positive emotion when it helps you work through issues or problems, whether that’s at work or at home.
However, anger can become problematic if it leads to aggression, outbursts, or even physical altercations.
Anger control is important for helping you avoid saying or doing something you may regret. Before anger escalates, you can use specific strategies for controlling anger.
Count down (or up) to 10. If you’re really mad, start at 100. In the time it takes you to count, your heart rate will slow, and your anger will likely subside.
Your breathing becomes shallower and speeds up as you grow angry. Reverse that trend (and your anger) by taking slow, deep breaths from your nose and exhaling out of your mouth for several moments.
Exercise can help calm your nerves and reduce anger. Go for a walk, ride your bike, or hit a few golf balls. Anything that gets your limbs pumping is good for your mind and body.
Find a word or phrase that helps you calm down and refocus. Repeat that word again and again to yourself when you’re upset. “Relax,” “Take it easy, and “You’ll be OK” are all good examples.
Neck rolls and shoulder rolls are good examples of nonstrenuous yoga-like movements that can help you control your body and harness your emotions. No fancy equipment required.
Slip into a quiet room, close your eyes, and practice visualizing yourself in a relaxing scene. Focus on details in the imaginary scene: What color is the water? How tall are the mountains? What do the chirping birds sound like? This practice can help you find calm amidst anger.
Let music carry you away from your feelings. Put in earbuds or slip out to your car. Crank up your favorite music (avoid heavy metal), and hum, bop, or sashay your anger away.
When you’re steamed, you may be tempted to let the angry words fly, but you’re more likely to do harm than good. Pretend your lips are glued shut, just like you did as a kid. This moment without speaking will give you time to collect your thoughts.
Give yourself a break. Sit away from others. In this quiet time, you can process events and return your emotions to neutral. You may even find this time away from others is so helpful you want to schedule it into your daily routine.
Harness your angry energy. Sign a petition. Write a note to an official. Do something good for someone else. Pour your energy and emotions into something that’s healthy and productive.
What you can’t say, perhaps you can write. Jot down what you’re feeling and how you want to respond. Processing it through the written word can help you calm down and reassess the events leading up to your feelings.
You might be angry that your child has once again left their room a mess before going to visit a friend. Shut the door. You can temporarily end your anger by putting it out of your view. Look for similar resolutions in any situations.
Prevent an outburst by rehearsing what you’re going to say or how you’re going to approach the problem in the future. This rehearsal period gives you time to role-play several possible solutions, too.
The universal symbol to stop can help you calm down when you’re angry. It’s a quick way to help you visualize the need to halt yourself, your actions, and walk away from the moment.
If your slow commute to work makes you angry before you’ve even had coffee, find a new route. Consider options that may take longer but leave you less upset in the end.
Don’t stew in the events that made you angry. Help yourself process what happened by talking with a trusted, supportive friend who can possibly provide a new perspective.
Nothing upends a bad mood like a good one. Diffuse your anger by looking for ways to laugh, whether that’s playing with your kids, watching stand-up, or scrolling memes.
Take a moment to focus on what’s right when everything feels wrong. Realizing how many good things you have in your life can help you neutralize anger and turn around the situation.
The first thing that comes to mind when you’re angry likely isn’t the thing you should say. Give yourself a set time before you respond. This time will help you be calmer and more concise.
Write a letter or email to the person that made you angry. Then, delete it. Often, expressing your emotions in some form is all you want, even if it’s in something that will never be seen.
Finding the courage to forgive someone who has wronged you takes a lot of emotional skill. If you can’t go that far, you can at least pretend that you’re forgiving them, and you’ll feel your anger slip away.
Try to walk in the other person’s shoes and see the situation from their perspective. When you tell the story or relive the events as they saw it, you may gain a new understanding and become less angry.
It’s OK to say how you feel, as long as you handle it in the right way. Ask a trusted friend to help you be accountable to a calm response. Outbursts solve no problems, but mature dialogue can help reduce your stress and ease your anger. It may also prevent future problems.
Turn your anger into a tangible production. Consider painting, gardening, or writing poetry when you’re upset. Emotions are powerful muses for creative individuals. Use yours to reduce anger.
Anger is a normal emotion that everyone experiences from time to time. However, if you find your anger turns to aggression or outbursts, you need to find healthy ways to deal with anger.
If these tips don’t help, consider talking with your doctor. A mental health specialist or therapist can help you work through underlying factors that may contribute to anger and other emotional issues.
Originally published on Healthline.
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