Mad, upset, livid, outraged, irritated, offended, angry — we’ve all experienced some form of fiery feelings in our lives. Anger can be a really overwhelming emotion if we allow it to be and it can also wreak a lot of havoc on yourself and your relationships should you choose to let it sit and fester. Here are some basic and effective ways to try to manage those feelings. Some of these tips can be used when you’re in the heat of an argument and some make for good daily practice to help keep your emotions in check.
Express your anger. Most people probably think that expressing their anger is unhealthy. This isn’t necessarily the case. Expressing yourself in a non-aggressive manner is ideal. Yelling, cursing, or belittling others is not a very pleasant or effective way to make your case. Try using the “Assertiveness Formula”. One variation goes a little something like this (fill in the blanks as needed):
“When you (action that upset you), it makes me feel (specific emotion or feeling) and I would like (how you like for the situation to be handled instead).”
Take a timeout. Sometimes when we’re in the thick of things it can be hard to express your feelings properly. Perhaps taking a quick break to sort out some of your feelings before attempting to explain can help. This gives all parties a moment to collect themselves and release some of the tension.
Get some exercise. Goodness, what isn’t exercise good for? Exercise is a great way to relieve tension, give your mood a boost, and give yourself some time to think all in a healthy way.
Use relaxation techniques. Whether you’re counting as you take deep breaths or imagining yourself to be in an environment where you feel calm, using relaxation techniques when you’re not feeling quite like yourself can give you a sense of self-awareness and serve as a quick way to shift your attention away from all of your negative feelings.
Engage in regular self-expression. Get yourself in the habit of expressing your feelings. Talk to your friends, journal, create something, or exercise. Allowing yourself to express your feelings regularly in a creative outlet can keep you from bottling them.
Think, be solution oriented. How many times have you reacted out of anger and said or done something that you wish you could take back? Giving yourself a moment to process before reacting and thinking of ways to solve the problem instead of perpetuate it can help you resolve issues more quickly.
Don’t hold a grudge. There’s a quote by actor and politician Malachy McCourt that sums up this point pretty nicely, “Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” Ponder that one for a moment. How much energy and time have you wasted by holding a grudge? It’s important to note that all of that anger eats at you more than it does at where you’re directing it.
Ask for help. Be objective with yourself. This means being honest enough to acknowledge if your feelings are out of control and beyond your managing. If you’re constantly angry, acting aggressively, getting into trouble, or having difficulty in your relationships, it may be time to seek professional help.
Don’t let those fiery feelings hijack your life! Learning how to manage your feelings in a healthy way will benefit both your relationships and your overall well-being.