Anger can be a complicated issue to manage, and coping with it can sometimes prove to be a challenge. Read on for some of our best advice on the steps to take when you need to move past anger.
Steps to Take to Move Past Anger
1. Seek Help
By far, the most important step in managing your anger problems is seeking professional counseling. Therapy, whether in a group or individual setting, is crucial for starting and maintaining an effective anger management plan. Why is counseling so helpful for anger? There are a variety of reasons. One thing people with anger issues struggle with is having an outlet for their anger – a place of neutrality to express anger and explore what may cause or contribute to it. In individual and group counseling, a therapist will lead you in exercises for practicing anger management skills. In group therapy settings, you can be exposed to other people with anger issues. Knowing you’re not alone and learning alongside others who understand your struggles can be very helpful. You’ll also learn of ways others cope with their anger and hopefully pick up some tips (but at the very least a lot of perspective) for dealing with your anger.
2. Practice De-Escalation
There are two major ways you can de-escalate your own anger as it’s happening. While it’s the first place we often go for anger, deep breaths are an effective way to reduce anger and tamp down on your temper. There is a scientific reason for why deep breathing can help, too. When you’re mad, short, abrupt breaths actually serve a purpose within the body. We are quickly taking in oxygen as part of a fight or flight response that’s hardcoded into our psyche. Unsurprisingly, it’s this fight or flight (emphasis on fight for anger issues) mentality that causes angry outbursts. By stopping the physiological response of breathing rapidly, that instinct can be calmed and controlled. Take a seat, breathe in deeply through your nose, exhale through the mouth. This can help in the moment with anger, and practicing it when you’re not actively upset can relax you further. The second major de-escalation tactic is developing a mantra. Repetition of a certain phrase can be very soothing, even if it does feel a bit silly at first. Try telling yourself “it’s going to be okay,” repetitively, whether in your head or out loud, the next time you feel your temper rising. Focusing your thoughts on anything other than what’s making you upset can do wonders in getting your anger into a controllable, expressible state.
3. Determine Your Triggers
There are countless possible circumstances and environments that can trigger anger. Take note of when you feel angry, whether literally on your phone or in a journal or just in your mind. Look at what trends or commonalities your outbursts of anger have in mind. Is there a person at work who upsets you? Find a way to avoid that person, or have a frank conversation with them or human resources about the problem. Whatever may lead you to anger, no matter how small or trivial it may seem, is important and notable. Once you’ve nailed down some of the more common or intense triggers, you can work to determine coping or avoidance methods.
4. Use Humor
This one can sound a bit strange. Chances are if you’re seeking help for your anger, it’s anything but funny to you. But as you start to pay closer attention to your anger, you may start to see the absurdity of your anger.
Should you really be so upset that this jar of pickles is seemingly impossible to open? Not only is it okay to laugh at yourself, it can be healthy. Direct this humor inward, as humor when we’re upset can still have barbs. Sarcasm towards others in the heat of the moment can cause more issues than it will solve. If you find yourself struggling to find anything funny about what’s upsetting you, don’t strain yourself. As you develop other coping mechanisms for anger, humor may come easier.
Coping with and moving past anger can be an incredibly challenging journey, but you’re not alone. Ready to learn more or schedule a consultation with the experts at SOL Mental Health? Give us a call today.