Techniques to use when you’re angry or frustrated
- Convert your anger into something good and useful instead of letting it become destructive. For example, mow the lawn or do housework. When angry, the work gets done before you know it, because it allows you to vent. For example scrubbing a shower or mopping a floor really lets you vent that energy. Or go jogging outdoors, shoot some hoops or some other exercise. You can burn off your anger that way, plus afterward you feel great because you mastered your anger and channeled it into something positive: a double reward.
- You can also use humor to defuse your anger. Right now (don’t wait until you’re angry!) reflect on some of your favorite “silly humor” scenes from movies or sitcoms. Pick the one that you remember well in detail and makes you laugh helplessly the most. Whenever you are angry, take a few deep breaths and prepare for a mental “movie screening”… and slowly recall that favorite funny scene. It will help you dissipate your anger.
- Apply the technique of not being a perfectionist: take it easy on yourself, and don’t expect too much from others either. By the same token, don’t expect everything in life to go perfectly. When you start getting angry, remind yourself of the imperfections of life. Say it out loud and shrug, e.g. “The trash spilled onto the floor again? Oh well, that’s life, I guess.”
Not all anger is “bad”
Anger over injustice, exploitation or abuse – of a person, people or of a position of privilege – should not be silenced. Instead it should be cultivated and channeled into constructive, positive actions to bring about change.
Divide the problem into one of 2 classes
Take a quick look at the problem of why you’re angry (not in too much detail or time otherwise it just ‘feeds’ the anger), the goal is to divide the problem into one of two classes.
1. If your anger is about a specific issue that can and should be changed whether it’s your behavior or someone else’s, then decide what to do about it non-violently, and do it. For example, if you are angry at yourself for leaving shoes where you will trip over them, then move the shoes and make a rule to keep them in the new spot. Or if a neighbor has borrowed something of yours awhile ago and hasn’t given it back, then tell the neighbor that you’d like the item back please as you need to use it again soon. Remember to keep things in perspective and don’t expect perfection.
2. If your anger is about something that is out of your control or is just out of proportion to the situation, then there isn’t a specific physical action you can take. But what you can do is to mentally visualize yourself wrapping your anger in a box and giving it away to the person or situation that caused the anger. e.g. if someone said a mean comment about you and you’re still bothered by it the next day, just mentally wrap up your anger in a box with a bow on it, and imagine yourself handing it to the person. Then remind yourself the other person can be the one that gets to have the negative emotions, not you. This works especially well at night if you’re having trouble sleeping.
If it’s really hard to control anger
If you’re unable to channel your anger into anything useful with the tips shown above, it can become destructive – not only to you, but especially to those around you. Never put your loved ones through anything bad because of your anger. If you find your anger gets out of control at times, seek help. It takes a strong person to do that.In the US you can also try the Boy’s Town National Hotline at 1-800-448-3000; they offer help in many areas including anger and parenting, designed especially for parents and families too, not just kids. In the UK you can try SupportLine at 01708 765200 – this confidential hotline is designed for anyone: adults, young adults and children on any issues including anger. Remember, you owe it not just to yourself but to your loved ones to seek help if you need it.
The majority of us might not need to get professional help when angry, but being angry is still stressful.
The good news is, you don’t have to put up with the added stress. Channeling your anger into productive outlets, or using humor, or simply going easy on yourself and on other people are all ways that you can handle these stresses more easily.