We have discussed several methods for managing our emotions in past posts. Hopefully some have been useful and enjoyable. However, some emotions are harder to manage than others, such as anger. Anger is a powerful feeling and can create difficult situations or worsen events already in play. In this post, we will talk about some simple tactics to manage anger. We will look at some suggestions for chronic anger or rage next time.

As we have learned, emotions arise unconsciously, and we cannot control that aspect of our makeup. Anger can be one of the most powerful emotions we experience. It is important to note that feeling anger is neither “bad” or “good.” Most of us are angry at times. Sometimes anger can even be useful, properly managed. However, unmanaged anger rarely manifests itself in a healthy way, especially when dealing with other people. Here are some simple suggestions to manage angry feelings:

  • Exercise: If something/someone does/says something that creates angry feelings, take a walk, run, do some yoga etc. The activity will release some “feel-good” chemicals from the brain and help us calm down. Also, it creates a time buffer.
  • Take a timeout: Timeouts aren’t just for kids. Take short breaks from stressful situations that may be causing anger. Give yourself a few minutes of quiet, alone time. Practice your breathing or visualization; you only need a short amount of time for this to be effective.
  • Think before you speak: Anger during interpersonal interaction can worsen an already tense moment. Take a few minutes before speaking to the other person, collect your thoughts BEFORE expressing them. This time allows others to do the same. If necessary, ask to table the conversation until both people have better control. If possible, agree upon a time to talk later.
  • Express your anger when calm: Assertive yourself in a calm but not confrontational way. It is very useful to use “I” statements, which allows you to express your concerns, emotions, etc in a non-critizing way. For example, it is far easier for us to hear, “I am upset you did not make your bed” than “You never do any chores.”
  • Use humor: Lightening up can help defuse an argument or situation. Please avoid sarcasm, it can hurt feelings and escalate the interaction.

It is also important to realize when you need help. If anger seems a chronic part of your life or you find yourself lashing out, simple tools might not be helpful. Next time, we will explore some suggestions and options to better manage severe anger.

Until then, breathe, relax, exercise, use “I” statements, and try to find some humor in the situation. I hope you have some laughter this week!

Lori Brandt