All of us deal with anger differently. Some of us like to squeeze a stress ball, others of us will go and hit the weights, others will put our faces into a pillow and scream.
But while it’s your prerogative to deal with anger any way you see fit – as long as you aren’t hurting anyone or putting yourself in any danger – it’s crucial to realize that not every method of dealing with rage is going to be equally as effective. In fact, if you don’t know how to deal with anger properly, you may actually be making yourself worse.
Read on to learn how to deal with anger and how not to.
How to Deal With Anger in a Few Steps
Remove yourself from the situation
The first and most important thing to do if you’re feeling worked up and angry is to remove yourself from the situation. When we are very angry, we lose our ability to make sound long-term decisions and this can often lead to impulsive behavior that gets us into trouble.
What’s more, being around something that makes you angry is only likely to make you angrier.
So if you are able to, then excuse yourself to another room or just generally go and take a time out.
Breathing deeply and slowly is a very useful tool for calming down whether you want to know how to deal with anger or stress. That’s because slow breathing will engage your parasympathetic nervous system and your ‘rest and digest’ state which is the polar opposite of your ‘fight or flight’ mode. Essentially this puts you in a state of calm where your body is more interested in making repairs than looking for a fight.
It has long been believed by many people that the best way to deal with anger is to hit something. It makes sense, right? Hitting something is probably what you feel like you want to do, so hitting a punching bag or something else innocuous should let you ‘vent off steam’, right?
Unfortunately no: this is essentially a misunderstanding of how anger works. It is incorrect to think of anger as an emotion that you’re ‘filled up with’ and that can thus be let out like air out of a balloon.
Instead, your anger is more like a fire that gets bigger. And every time you hit something or you shout at someone or you rant about your situation you are adding fuel to that fire. Essentially you’re telling your body ‘the fight is still on’ and thus it will further increase your aggression.
Let it go
Instead then you need to give yourself signals that it’s okay to relax and you need to flood yourself with the contrary neurotransmitters like serotonin and oxytocin. The first way to do this is to ‘let go’ of whatever is causing you frustration. This simply means acknowledging that whatever you do to try and vent your rage will only make it worse and thus you would be much better off just letting it float away. If your anger is at someone else, then ‘letting go’ is the best way to ‘win’. If you want to know how to deal with anger well, then this is the most important tip.
Unfortunately it’s often easier said than done to just ‘let go’ of anger when you’re truly riled. That’s why those struggling with long-term anger would often do well to see a cognitive behavioral therapist who will be able to show them how to change the way they think about anger and the way they react to it.
Relax, laugh and go for a walk
To help yourself get the thing (that makes you angry) off your mind, it’s a good idea to go for a walk, to hang out with friends, to relax or to watch a funny film. These activities all trigger states of calm and release ‘feel good’ hormones that help to suppress anger and stress.