Everyone gets angry occasionally, and the emotion is not only familiar – it is essential to our well-being to let off steam. Still, there are many ways that anger manifests that are considered to be irrational or over-the-top. When unchecked, anger can have a significant impact on your life, your health, and your personal relationships. That being said, there are proactive ways for diffusing anger and de-escalating the situation.
Diffusing Anger in 9 Easy Steps
1. Think about it: You’ve all been told to “count to 10” when you want to lash out in anger, and the advice is sound. When we are upset, it is too easy to say something we know we will regret. Take the time you need – 10 seconds or 10 minutes – to calm down and think through your reaction.
2. Speak your concerns when you are calm: Once thoughts have cleared, learn to communicate your frustration in a non-confrontational way – but confidently. Identify your worries and offenses without harming others or trying to manipulate them.
3. Think more about solutions: Instead of obsessing about the object of your anger, put your efforts towards a resolution and a solution to the problem. Begin to accept that some things are not yours to control, change or fix. Remind yourself that reacting in anger won’t resolve anything – and may aggravate the situation.
4. Take a deep breath: When anger starts to take control, relaxation skills such as deep-breathing exercises can help tremendously to diffuse the emotion. You may choose to imagine a favorite place in nature, repeat a calming mantra, listen to music, or stretch out into a few yoga poses.
5. Practice prayer or meditation: Taking relaxation a step further, a dedicated effort towards mindful meditation, contemplation, or prayer is known to calm the mind and reset priorities. A faith basis helps significantly when learning to accept that we are not ultimately in control of most things.
6. Get some outdoor time and exercise: Getting out into the sunshine and away from concrete and metal can calm us down quickly. If you find anger rising too easily, take a long walk through the woods, or sit on the beach for a while. Physical activity – such as a brisk walk or bike ride – also helps to temper the stress that can spiral into a rage.
7. Let go of the grudge: Forgiveness is immensely powerful, as it allows us to release feelings of bitterness or injustice that may keep us in anger and resentment. Forgiving the people who made you angry can clear those feelings and strengthen the relationship.
8. Try to smile and laugh: Sometimes, all it takes to dissipate the tension is a bit of humor, which can be highly effective at diffusing anger. People laughing find it difficult (if not impossible) to simultaneously feel angry and obsess about unreasonable expectations. If your sense of humor tends towards sarcasm, be careful, as caustic humor often causes hurt feelings and misunderstandings.
9. Be open to seeking help: Controlling anger, especially if this has been a lifetime struggle, can be very challenging. Individuals who cannot mitigate their anger and feel out of control should consider seeking help from a mental health counselor before they do or say something irreversible or irreparable.
Denise Schonwald is a nationally certified mental health counselor and coach dedicated to helping her clients live their most abundant lives. Although based in Sarasota, she works with clients across the country via video conference, according to their unique schedules. Call today to learn more, or click to take a quick self-assessment.