How to Manage Anger

4 steps to control yourself in frustrating situations

Do you often lose your temper? Do you ever find yourself getting angry over every little thing? Anger is a normal emotion -- and acceptable in most cases. But, according to the American Psychological Association, if left to spin out of control, anger can also be quite dangerous. When you find your anger out of control more often than not and your level of tolerance for others diminishing, it's time to learn some concrete anger management skills.

There are a variety of ways to manage anger. And, because not all the methods will work for everyone, it's important to find the method(s) that works best for you.

Step 1: Breathe

Deep breathing is a great tool for relaxation, and for managing your anger. To be successful in anger management, you need to take time to regain control. Focusing on regulating your breath will enable you to both stop for a moment to re-center yourself and settle down. Herbert Benson, MD, of Harvard University found deep breathing to be effective in controlling emotions as it allows individuals to calm down and refocus.

Step 2: Take space

When children are acting out, many parents utilize a "time-out" as a means of removing the child from the charged situation. Adults need that same option. It's not easy to calm down while in the midst of an explosive situation. Experts at the Mayo Clinic suggest briefly stepping away from the situation, either mentally or physically. Then you can begin deep breathing in order to focus and calm yourself down.

Step 3: List and practice safe release

While anger is a natural response to a frustrating situation, how you manage anger is crucial for your own physical and emotional health and the well-being of others. Psychologist and former president of the American Psychological Association, Charles Spielberger, PhD, notes that biological changes often take place when one experiences anger. Blood pressure and heart rate changes are just two of the physical symptoms that accompany an increase in anger.

It's important to find healthy ways to manage and release your anger that you can practice when you are not angry. By practicing these techniques in a non-charged situation, you'll be better prepared to make good choices when you feel your temper begin to flare. A few ways might be:

  • Exercise by taking a brisk walk or doing a few push-ups.
  • Hit a pillow or punching bag, remembering it is never alright to hit another person.
  • Write your feelings out in a journal. This does not have to be shared with anyone, and may offer you insight into your anger. Analyzing what you've written later may enable you to manage your anger even better in the future.
  • Find a friend or therapist with whom you can be open. One of the best and most difficult ways to manage anger is to talk about it. If you have someone you trust, expressing your feelings verbally can be quite healing.
  • Forgive yourself. Television's Dr. Phil McGraw suggests practicing the art of self-forgiveness as a way to manage anger. He calls anger an expression of hurt, frustration and fear.

Step 4: Practice relaxation

A key tip to manage anger is to practice relaxation skills. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic say that relaxation techniques can help you not only de-stress but can also be an important resource for you when you feel your anger surfacing. Other tips include: incorporating daily meditation, yoga, quiet time or even fun time into your life. As you do so, you will find your stress and anger more manageable. When feeling less overwhelmed by the challenges of life, people tend to naturally react more slowly in difficult situations.

Following one or more of these tips to manage anger is certain to improve how you react in frustrating, overwhelming and charged situations.

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