Managing your anger can sometimes seem like a distant priority. A significant other forgets a special day, a coworker undermines you, a neighbor makes noise late at night—and you’re lost in fury before you know it. Anger is a normal, human response. But the more it goes unchecked, the harder it can be to temper your reactions and prevent a tense situation from escalating in the future.
Though some feelings of anger are more complicated than others, these anger management solutions may be useful to you when you’re seeing red over life’s more simple aggravations.
Move Your Body
Whether it's going for a run, dancing, raking leaves or jumping rope, getting active may be the single best way to calm rage. In particular, activities like whacking a tennis ball or punching a bag allow you to physically release aggression in a constructive way. Breaking a sweat increases levels of the feel-good chemical serotonin in the brain, which can help squash negative feelings, so experiment and see which physical activities work for you.
Focusing on your breath—instead of the traffic you’re stuck in—is not only a great attention diversion; it can help slow your heart rate, which can have a calming effect on your body. Aim for deep inhales that fill your lungs, followed by long, dramatic exhales. Be conscious of how it feels as air moves in and out of your body.
Get a Grip
Similarly, squeezing a stress ball—or any other squishable object—can help dissolve tension by giving you something other than your emotions to focus on for a few moments. Try compressing a ball ten times before you respond to the next situation that upsets you.
Belt—or Write—it Out
This technique is a great way to give a “voice” to pent up emotions: Turn on your favorite song and sing along at the top of your lungs (without straining your vocal chords, of course). As you do, imagine that each word sung carries a little bit of your anger away with it. Or, for a quieter release, try writing down your angry feelings in a journal. Both act as healthy forms of venting, allowing you to release pent up energy and emotion so you don’t carry it with you.
Make an Exit
When you feel like you’re in a pressure cooker and your immediate surroundings contribute to your irritation, a simple step such as changing your environment can act as a soothing salve on your anger. Moving yourself into another space or physical setting may create an opportunity to try some breath work or another anger-reducing tip, and it also gives you the chance to start problem solving constructively, which is considered one of the most effective anger management strategies.