Whether it’s getting stuck in traffic or getting frustrated with your spouse, we all have moments of anger. It can be hard to slow down those angry thoughts before they seem to overtake us and cause us to say or do things we later regret. Learning how to respond to those feelings without angry outbursts is something that usually needs a lot of practice, but is well worth the effort.
Tips to stop anger and de-stress:
1. Recognize that this is likely just a moment of frustration and not worth getting upset over. Don’t let this moment ruin all the good things that happened today.
2. Come up with a mantra you can repeat to yourself in times of frustration and anger. Say it to yourself over and over in those moments. Some examples, “It’s not worth it”, “Slow down”, “This is only temporary”, “Getting angry only makes things worse”.
3. When you feel the tension building and anger mounting, slow things down and do some deep breathing. Remember to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth and focus your breathing in your lower abdomen. Try to loosen your muscles by rolling your neck and shoulders.
4. Take a time out. If you are in the middle of a discussion and you can feel it getting heated, stop and take and time out. Go for a short walk, go into another room, whatever you need to do to get calm and centered again.
5. While you are taking a time out, try exercising. Go for a fast walk or jog, lift weights, do some aerobics. Exercise can reduce stress and frustration and slow your angry thoughts.
6. Try not to let your thoughts get irrational. Avoid “all or nothing” language, especially the words never and always. Realize that your emotions are probably exaggerating the reality of the situation.
7. Force yourself to slow down and think through your responses when in a heated discussion. Don’t just say the first thing that pops into your head. Make yourself listen and understand what the other person is saying and then carefully think about how you feel and what you want to say. Try not to jump to conclusions. Your anger is not in control of you–you are in control of your anger.
8. If someone you care about is criticizing you, try not to take the criticism to heart and let them fuel your anger. As hard as it will be, try to ask sincere questions to understand where they are coming from and what is behind their words. Are they feeling neglected, sad, unloved? What can you do to help them, and in turn help your relationship?
9. Think grateful thoughts. What happened today that was good? If you are stuck in traffic, start listing your blessings in detail. Think about specific things that were awesome today or that you feel lucky to have in your life.
10. Turn on some calm and relaxing music. Music is a great mood changer and can bring our breathing and heartrate back to normal. This playlist is full of ideas: 46 Songs to Relax and De-Stress
11. Humor is a great way to distract ourselves from our anger and re-focus our energy positively. Do you have unrealistic expectations? Can you find a way to see the humorous side of what you are upset about? Just remember not to use sarcasm, since it hurts and is not funny. Watch a comedy sketch or a funny sitcom or movie and let the laughter roll. It’s a great way to ease tension and release frustration.
12. Notice if you are overly tired or hungry. We tend to feel our emotions stronger when we need sleep or food. Take a break and take care of yourself. Maybe the discussion needs to be rescheduled until the next day so you can sleep and feel refreshed first.
13. Find alternatives. If you find yourself often angry when driving in heavy traffic, see if you can find a more scenic route to get where you are going that has less traffic, or try to avoid driving during those times. Maybe you can take a commuter train or bus instead.
14. Forgive and apologize often. Apologize when you lose your temper and accept apologies from others when they offer them. Forgiveness brings peace to our hearts and not holding a grudge is physically healthy as well. When we hold onto grudges, our immune system is lowered and we get sick easier. It’s also hard to be fully present and loving to others around us. This article goes into detail about the benefits of forgiving and moving on: “Feeling Peace, Finding Forgiveness”.