Anger Management Tools – Have you turned into a bit of a hothead? If you’re losing control, saying or doing things when you’re angry that you later regret, damaging relationships, or exploding over the little things. It could be time to seek help from a professional therapist to manage your anger.
A therapist can empower you with anger management tools like the ones below to help you keep your cool. While you’re waiting for that first appointment, try these tips if your temper flares.
Take A Walk
When your blood is boiling, you can’t think straight. You’re apt to say or do things that will make the problem worse – not better.
The next time that you’re angry, try this. Get up and take a brisk walk. This will relieve tension in your body. Plus, it requires you to remove yourself from the situation before you say or do something you’ll regret.
Take A Shower
You’re mad and need to let off some steam, pronto. Instead of lashing out, turn on the shower.
A relaxing shower or bath can ground you. Try to turn your attention to the feeling of the water droplets beating against your skin, take note of the temperature, and smell your favorite soap.
It may help to dim the lights and put on soothing music in the background. Take as much time as you need to find your calm.
4-7-8 Breathing Technique
The inventor of the 4-7-8 breathing technique dubbed it a “natural tranquilizer for the nervous system” for a reason.
This simple strategy disarms anger by activating your body’s relaxation response. It’s easier than it sounds and only takes a minute. Here’s how to do it:
Exhale deeply out of your mouth. It should be forceful enough to make a “whoosh” sound.
Then, complete the following cycle up to four times.
With a closed mouth, breathe in for four seconds. Hold for seven seconds. Exhale another big “whoosh” for eight seconds.
Repeat the entire cycle up to three more times.
When you first begin to use this method, you might notice some lightheadedness, so remember to do just four cycles. It’s also important that you practice using this method twice a day and use it when you feel stressed or angry for the full benefit.
While specific breathing techniques, like the 4-7-8 method, can be especially effective for calming anger, you don’t have to get that fancy.
If you’re really worked up and new breathing techniques sound too complicated, then keep it simple. Just breathe.
Turn your attention to your breathing and see if you can slow it down.
When you feel angry, your breathing and your heart rate speed up, and you get a shot of adrenaline. Your body experiences the “fight-or-flight” response, which was developed to help your ancestors flee or fight when there is a threat.
Now, though, it’s getting you into trouble by causing you to overreact to situations that don’t merit quite such a big response.
When you work to slow and deepen your breaths, it activates the relaxation response, which counters the fight-or-flight reaction and brings you back to the calm, rational state that you need to problem-solve.
Talk To Yourself
Ask yourself if you’ll still feel angry about this in a year. If not, then it isn’t worth getting so worked up that you say or do something you regret. Let it go. Move onto something else.
You can also remind yourself that making decisions while angry can backfire. Wait for the anger to pass before making your next move.
Not convinced that this simple technique is effective?
It is. Here’s why.
When you experience anger, your heart rate goes up and your fight-or-flight response is activated. This makes your brain literally less able to access the part of your brain where complex problem-solving takes place.
In other words
Anger = fast heart rate = poor problem-solving.
Your brain cannot solve problems effectively in this state.
Walk away, try one of these anger management tools, and circle back to the issue when you’re calm.
Part of an effective anger management plan is preventing yourself from becoming so angry in the first place.
If you’ve been struggling with anger, now is not the time to allow yourself to be under constant stress or on the go 24/7.
Stress makes anyone a bit extra snappy. So, slow it down a bit.
Commit to taking short breaks throughout the day. Set an alarm on your phone for every two hours, or plan breaks into your schedule mid-morning, mid-day, and mid-afternoon.
Get a sip of water and a healthy snack. Take a short walk around the block. Pet Fido for five minutes or play a quick game of fetch.
Power naps are great for recharging. Set an alarm on your phone and rest on the couch for just 20 minutes.
Taking short breaks throughout the day to breathe and relax will keep your prefrontal cortex – the problem-solving part of your brain – charged and ready to help you tackle any challenge in a more appropriate manner.
When To Seek Help
Sometimes anger can spiral out of control. If things have reached a point where you hurt yourself or others, damage property, or frequently say or do things you regret because you’re angry, it may be time to seek help from a professional therapist.
Other signs that you need to speak to someone who can help you manage your anger in a healthier way include if you are frequently angry, get angry over little things, or generally feel that your anger is out of control.
The good news is that with help from a professional, you can regain control and learn to manage your anger appropriately.
Commit To Change
Everyone experiences anger on occasion. But when anger starts to take control of your life, interferes with relationships, leads to behavior that you regret, or causes trouble for you with work, it’s time to do something.
Take steps to reduce stress, make time for breaks, and try these anger management tools. Consider seeking help from a professional therapist to get you back on track to being the person you want to be.
Help is available, and change is doable.