Everyone gets angry on occasion. If you're experiencing overwhelming rage, though, it could be damaging your mental and physical health. Here's how to control your emotions and calm yourself down.
Controlling Short-Term Anger
- Take a break as soon as you recognize that you're angry. Stop what you're doing, get away from whatever is irritating you, and take a breather. Getting away from whatever's upsetting you will make it infinitely easier to calm down. Try it out in these situations:
- If you're experiencing road rage, pull over on a side road and turn off the car.
- If you're angry at work, go to the break room or step outside for a moment. If you drive to work, consider sitting in your car so that you're in a space you own.
- If you're upset at home, go to a single-occupancy space (such as the bathroom) or for a walk.
- If you're experiencing anger in an unfamiliar place, don't just wander off by yourself. Tell whoever you're with that you need a short mental vacation, and ask that he or she stand a few extra paces away from you. Close your eyes and try to imagine yourself somewhere peaceful.
- Breathe deeply. If your heart hammers with rage, slow it down by controlling your breathing. Count to three as you inhale, hold the breath in your lungs for three more seconds, and count to three again as you exhale. Focus only on the numbers as you do this, and refuse to think about whatever is angering you. Repeat as many times as necessary.
- Go to a "happy place". If you're still having a difficult time calming down, imagine yourself in a scene you find incredibly relaxing. It could be your childhood backyard, a quiet forest, a solitary island - whatever locale makes you feel at-home and peaceful. Focus on imagining every detail of this place: the light, the noises, the temperature, the weather, the smells. Keep dwelling on your happy place until you feel completely immersed in it, and hang out there for a few minutes or until you feel calm.
- Practice positive self-talk. When you're ready, "discuss" the situation with yourself in positive and relieving terms. For example, if you experience road rage, you could try: "That guy almost sideswiped me, but maybe he was experiencing an emergency and I'll probably never have to see him again. I feel lucky that I'm alive and my car is unscratched. I'm fortunate that I can still drive. I can continue to be calm and focused when I get back on the road."
- If you find a form of positive self-talk that really works for you, make it a mantra. Repeat it to yourself as many times as you need to in order to return to the right frame of mind.
- Ask for the support of someone you trust. If you're still upset, sharing your concerns with a close friend or confidant might help.
- Clearly express what you want from the other person. If you just want a sounding board, state at the beginning that you don't want help or advice, just sympathy. If you're looking for a solution, let the other person know.
- Set a time limit. Give yourself a set amount of time to vent about what's upsetting you, and stick to it - when time is up, your rant is over. This will help you move on instead of dwelling on the situation endlessly.
- Try to see some humor in what angered you. After you've calmed down and established that you're ready to get over the incident, try to see the lighter side. Casting the incident in a humorous light can help you maintain positivity and avoid getting angry over the same thing next time.
Controlling Long-Term Anger
- Engage in physical activity. The endorphins that come from exercise can help you calm down, and moving your body provides a physical outlet for your rage. Try these activities you can practice alone:
- Weight training.
- Martial arts.
- Restructure the way you think about your life. Cognitive habits are the hardest to break, but it can be done. Ask yourself honestly if you see everyone and everything as an adversary or an obstacle. Odds are, the world isn't exactly that way - but you think it is, whether it's due to paranoia or past experience. Try these tips on changing your worldview:
- When you wake up in the morning, resolve that you're going to greet every person or experience as if it's brand-new to you. Shed your preconceived notions, and give everything a fresh start.
- When you find yourself falling into the same thought ruts, say "Stop it" out loud. Consciously change your line of thinking to something else.
- Try on different points of view. Instead of focusing exclusively on how you're affected by a situation, ask yourself how it affects the other people involved. Think about the obstacles they're dealing with, and how they're responding.
- Keep a journal of what upsets you and how you plan to fix it. Every time you're overwhelmingly angry, write down exactly what happened. (It's important to be honest, even if it casts you in an unfavorable light - remember, a journal is meant to be private.) Then plan out what you're going to do to fix the problem and avoid running into it next time. If you do find yourself in the same upsetting situation, refer back to your journal notes to see what else you can do.
- See a mental health professional. If your anger has progressed to the point that it's interfering with your day-to-day life or your ability to maintain positive relationships, see a doctor. He or she can assess the root of your problem and whether or not you require therapy, medication, or some combination of both.
- Realize that depression, even that diagnosed by a professional, can at root be caused by anger, and the frustration arising when it cannot or is not rectified, and there is no justice. Because anger in most cases must be suppressed, so as to not cause harm to oneself and others, or its source has caused humiliation and shame, and because one seethes with it when not released, and one pushes it into the unconscious, its unresolved festering can cause depression.or animosity, when actually the true problem may be they are simply unaware of what one's standards are. Confront the perpetrator in some way to let them know that they are making one angry. Of course caution must be considered in the event of the possibility of violence.