When you feel anger, it’s an indication that something is not working for you. Anger is a natural human reaction to an upsetting situation. In such cases, anger can be your friend, alerting you to take action and correct the imbalance. However, if anger becomes a habit and begins to rule your life, it will isolate you from others and impact your personal as well as professional relationships. Furthermore, uncontrolled anger can destroy your self-esteem and lead to stress, anxiety, depression and other harmful effects of unaddressed anger. To manage your anger constructively, consider these 10 strategies:
1. Change your thoughts to change your emotions
Anger is often based on frustration and fear, and is a response to a perceived threat. If you have an unrealistic expectation of how you think things should be, any deviation from that expectation can trigger anger. If you change your thoughts to more realistic thoughts, you will change your emotions. Learning to challenge unrealistic expectations is the first step to changing your thoughts and managing your anger. For example, if you expect your child to get straight As, but he gets Bs in two subjects, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment, frustration and anger. If, however, you learn to set realistic expectations for your child, you can change your thoughts to change your emotions.
2. Learn effective communication skills
Anger is often a result of feeling attacked. Therefore, to avoid angering your partner or children, learn to communicate effectively by avoiding the use of put-downs, being defensive, or making accusations. Instead, use “I” statements, such as “I feel hurt when you don’t listen to me.” Avoid comparisons (e.g., “You are just like your mother.”) and don’t use words that have a “should,” “must,” “could,” “ought to,” or other conditional terms. Avoid name-calling (e.g., “You’re selfish.”) as it often leads to more anger and can destroy relationships when used as a pattern of communication.
3. Exercise regularly to release stress
When you’re stressed, your body produces the hormone cortisol. Cortisol is responsible for the “fight-or-flight” reaction that gets your body ready to handle a stressful situation. While this is a good thing in an emergency, cortisol is not so helpful when it’s regularly being released in your body. High cortisol levels can lead to a wide range of health problems. Exercise is a great way to reduce cortisol levels and improve your general health. Some types of exercise, such as yoga and tai chi, are especially helpful at reducing stress.
4. Write down what upsets you and why
As you are writing down what upsets you and why, you can also write down what will help you move forward with better feelings. This technique enables you to let go of your anger and move to a more constructive frame of mind. When you are upset, try writing down your thoughts and feelings. What you write may surprise you, as you will see a different perspective than when you are in the midst of an upsetting situation. Writing your thoughts and feelings down also gives you a record of your feelings at the time so that you can review them at a future time when you may need to do so again.
5. Be mindful of what fuels your anger
Some people get angry easily when they’re tired, hungry, or have too much caffeine. Others get angry when they’re in a particular mood. Anger can be a response to feeling threatened, frustrated, disappointed, or resentful. Knowing what fuels your anger will help you control your reactions more effectively. For example, you may find that anger is fueled by insecurity, resentment, self-condemnation, or low self-esteem. In the case of insecurity, you need to identify the source of the insecurity. In the case of resentment, you need to find a way to forgive.
6. Don’t respond immediately when you’re angry
If you’re regularly angry, do not respond immediately. Give yourself some time to cool off and/or seek support to come up with a more constructive response. It’s not easy to moderate your anger, but it’s important to do so. Anger is a normal human emotion that can become destructive if you don’t learn how to control it. You can learn how to control your anger by becoming more aware of the situation that triggers your anger. If a particular event or situation always makes you angry, you need to take steps to change that event or situation.
7. Stop the cycle with a behavior change plan
If you’ve been in a destructive cycle of anger, change the pattern with a behavior change plan. A behavior change plan is basically a plan of action you put into place to better manage your anger. With a few simple tools, you can break the cycle of anger and put yourself on the path to healthier, happier relationships.
8. Take an online anger management class
Whether you have decided you could benefit from taking an online anger management course, or you have been ordered by the court to take a class, Advent eLearning has the resources you need. Our online anger management classes teach students to understand their unhealthy approach to anger and learn techniques to change their response to frustrating situations. The coursework is appropriate for a number of misdemeanor aggression offenses, family violence and abuse cases, and common sanction applications.
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