We all get angry sometimes, it’s a natural human emotion. Also, let’s face it, sometimes life situations can be pretty enraging! However, some people get angry often, and it can become a vicious cycle that can become both destructive to your health and to your relationships with others.
Unfortunately, trying to shove your anger down instead of exploding can be even worse. According to WebMD, suppressing anger can lead to depression and anxiety issues down the road, and lead to altered cognitive patterns as well as stress. Prolonged stress that is not managed can lead to an array of chronic illnesses.
Long-term anger (both explosive and suppressed) that is not dealt with can also lead to the following:
- Heart disease
- Digestive distress
- Skin problems
- Deteriorating social relationships
- Issues in the workplace / loss of opportunities
- Possible violence against yourself or others
Although it may sometimes seem like you anger is controlling you and not the other way around, there are many things you can do to keep it in check. It may take some repetition, trial and error and hard work, but try the following few tricks:
Some people call this method ‘going to their happy place.’ During a time that you are not angry, and feeling relaxed, close your eyes and think of a place that soothes you and makes you feel at peace – real or imaginary. Take a moment to note the colors, sounds and smells that you experience there.
When you feel your anger coming on, make yourself pause for a moment, close your eyes, and visualize yourself back in that place. Remember to breathe, and try to smell the smells, hear the sounds and see the sights and colors that you associate with your place in that moment. Remain in your place for at least 30 full seconds, longer if the situation will allow. Some people find it useful to count backwards from 30 slowly while performing visualization.
The rate at which you breathe can have a huge impact on your anger and stress levels. When we get angry, we tend to take short, halted and shallow breaths, elevating our blood pressure and making it much more difficult to relax. If this kind of breathing is continued for a long period of time, it can even send us into rage or panic mode.
Next time you feel yourself becoming angry, take a step back and focus your attention on how you are breathing. Then, start taking slow, deep breaths through your nose, pausing for a few seconds after the exhale before you start the next inhale.
Make sure you don’t hold your breath in for too long before exhaling, and when you do exhale, try to empty all of the air out of your lungs before pausing, and then inhaling again. It sounds simple, but it is a time-honored trick that works.
If you experience anger on a regular basis, it may be therapeutic to keep an ‘anger journal’ to record your feelings. Doing this can serve a couple of purposes. First of all, writing down your feelings in a place that only you can read them gives you a chance to thoroughly vent without hurting anybody’s feelings. Also, it gives you the opportunity to go back and read the thoughts and feelings that you had while you were angry.
Many people, after they have calmed down, don’t remember exactly what they were angry about in the first place. This is especially true if they are experiencing anger at irrational things.
When you read what you wrote when you were in the thick of a rage session, you can then start to identify the patterns of what made you angry, and what pushed you over the edge. If you know exactly what makes you angry, and the process by which your feelings spiral out of control, you will be much more equipped to deal with it early on.
For this reason, try to be as detailed as possible in your journal entries, and include what happened before, during and after the incident, if you can. However, if you just need to ‘rant’ and then fill in logistical details later, that works, too.
Yes, we recommend meditation a lot – because it really does work. If you suffer from chronic anger, making a point to perform regular meditation can really help you shake off what is bothering you, especially lingering negative emotions, and help you to focus on the present moment. It may take a little practice, but once you’ve meditated for a little while, you may find that you get to a place where all burdens and outside distractions fall away, and you can really get to the root of your being, beyond all the anger.
Even if you do not have much time in your busy schedule, meditating for just five minutes when you wake up in the morning, and five minutes before you go to bed at night, can work wonders.
Simply find a quiet place that you can sit comfortably, physically relax every part of your body, paying special attention to any tension in your chest, shoulders, neck and face, close your eyes, focus on your breath, and dismiss all rushing thoughts as they come. Do not try to repress them – just let them flow through you and exit your body.
If you wish to receive instruction in meditation, look around for glasses or sessions in your area. No matter which type of meditation you choose, and there are many, the discipline you will learn may dramatically affect your state of mind, as well as your physical health.
Have you ever heard the phrase, ‘blow off some steam?’ That is exactly what doing some cardiovascular exercise can accomplish. If you are feeling frustrated or angry, try going for a run, swim, bike ride or fast-paced hike – something that takes a little bit of endurance and gets your heart pumping. Not only will this send a rush of endorphins to your brain, it will also draw your focus away from what you are angry about, and onto the task at hand.
If you can exercise outdoors, the combination of the physical activity, the fresh air and the vitamin D from the sun can be especially effective.
Talking to someone you trust
Having a friend or family member you can talk to honestly about what is bothering you is a treasure indeed. This is usually best accomplished when you’ve cooled down a little bit, or before you enter into full ‘seeing red’ mode, unless you have someone in your life who knows you well enough to calm you down in the midst of your anger. Once you have cooled down, try to really listen to what the other person is saying to you, as many people with explosive anger are a bit lacking in listening skills.
-The Alternative Daily