I have recently been feeling very angry. This anger feels overwhelming and just builds and builds until I end up exploding on someone. Anger isn’t a good feeling, nothing good comes out of it. Because I have recently struggled with and have been working through anger, I have decided to write about coping with anger. Thus, 10 Ways to Reduce Anger is born.
#1 Remove Yourself from the Trigger
The first thing I do when I begin feeling angry is to remove myself from the trigger. A trigger is a situation, action, or anything else that prompts the angry feeling. This might include loud chewing, a certain word or phrase, standing in line. Everyone has different triggers and ultimately everything can be a trigger.
A peer was frequently disrespecting me, and this was my trigger. After a couple of instances where I was disrespected, I began preparing myself to feel angry. This only made me angrier. This is called rumination. Rumination is when you either frequently think about or talk about something, usually in a negative context, which allows the emotions to build and become stronger.
Because I was coming into situations expecting to become angry, I was quicker to anger. I quickly realized that when I started to feel the anger, that I needed to remove myself from the situation as quickly as I could. By removing myself I could stop the anger from rising.
#2 Take a Deep Breath
Once I have removed myself from the triggering situation, I breathe. There are a couple of reasons why I stop to breathe. The first is that it forces me to take a break from ruminating. By forcing myself to focus on breathing I am no longer continually thinking about what had made me angry.
When I am taking a deep breath, I make sure that I am performing diaphragmatic (or deep) breathing. Simply breathing isn’t enough. Diaphragmatic breathing refers to a type of breathing where the stomach (not the chest) rises when breathing in, and settles when breathing out. Breathing this way stimulates a nerve that, in turn, stimulated the system in your body which relaxes you.
After a couple of minutes of deep breathing, I am calmer and often, no longer angry at all.
There are a million ways to distract yourself when you are feeling angry and this is different for everyone. It is also different in every situation. Sometimes, deep breathing is enough to distract me, while other times I need to take part in an activity like cleaning or watching funny videos to keep my mind off the trigger.
The goal of distracting yourself is to put a stop to rumination and to calm down. Distracting yourself from the trigger will not make the situation go away, you will still need to confront whatever is making you angry. But it gives you enough time to cool down, re-evaluate, and return to the situation with a new perspective.
#4 Talking to a Close Friend
My boyfriend is my rock. Whenever I find myself worked up or feeling down, talking to him always makes me feel better. I think this works so well because it’s a positive distraction. Not only am I distracted from the anger, but I have vented out everything I wish I could say to my trigger. I no longer feel angry.
Talking to a close friend is always helpful, so long as you aren’t co-ruminating (rumination by more than one person together). Whether you’re venting or keeping distracted, it is always helpful to know that you have someone on your side supporting you. Sometimes, at least for me, I just need to know that I have someone cheering me on. Someone who believes in me.
Try talking to someone if you’re angry. If you don’t have a close friend you’d trust, counseling is always an option (see #10).
#5 Comedy and Humor
Whenever I am feeling angry, I find it incredibly helpful to watch or listen to something funny or humorous. My go-to is YouTube. YouTube is full of hilarious content that is sure to boost your mood!
When you are busy laughing at something it is impossible to feel angry. So, if you’re getting worked up, try searching “funny animal videos” (these are my weakness). You could even try searching for videos of your favorite comedian.
Whatever makes you laugh, use it to de-escalate your anger!
Apologizing is hard, but believe me, it’s therapeutic. Recently, I allowed myself to ruminate and my anger to build. Once I had arrived at a potentially triggering situation, I was already angry. So, naturally, I was triggered and snapped. Unfortunately, I allowed myself to get angry to the point of taking it out on my peer. This was another disrespect situation like I mentioned before, but snapping on her was completely uncalled for.
After taking a few deep breaths I privately apologized to another peer who was nearby when I snapped. Thankfully, she was understanding, because I was embarrassed that I had acted in such a way (completely out of my character).
I gave myself a lot more cool-down time, mustered up some courage, and apologized to the co-worker I had snapped on. While she was being disrespectful (my trigger) it was wrong of me to have yelled at her, especially in front of another peer.
She accepted my apology, though did not seem to listen to my explanation of what had triggered me. This triggered me again, which was even more difficult. I tried to keep distracted and to breathe deeply, but I was in a situation where she was attempting to apologize and I could not remove myself. I just kept breathing deeply and attempting to keep calm, I was apologizing for snapping. It was not the time to snap again.
As soon as I could remove myself, I did. Maybe I had not allowed myself enough cool-down time before apologizing. That being said, after apologizing and cooling down, I felt much much better. I had essentially confessed my sins and had no reason to feel bad. The triggers kept coming, but I felt better prepared to keep my cool.
#7 Do Something Enjoyable
It goes without saying that the things you enjoy make you happy, right? Well, then shouldn’t these things also help to de-escalate your anger? YES, a million times, YES!
If you are starting to feel angry and there is an activity that makes you happy, then do it. For me, oddly enough, it’s organizing. I love organizing, it relaxes me and puts me in a good mood. I feel as though I have accomplished something that makes my life easier. So, as I have already mentioned, when I am feeling angry, I organize. Sometimes I am organizing something that has already been organized. But if it reduces my anger, then I am not going to stop.
Do something that you love to reduce your anger!
#8 Clean or Organize
What I am about to say is obvious because I have already mentioned it several times.
I find that when I am angry, I do my best cleaning and organizing. Anger, for me, needs an outlet. Most often, when I feel angry there is something in need of cleaning that I have been neglecting. In fact, when a disrespectful peer triggers my anger, I can remove myself from the situation and clean the kitchen or bathrooms at my place of employment. In fact, the cleaning is part of my job. Talk about killing two birds with one stone, right?
When you become angry at home, try hiding in your room and cleaning (I know you’ve been putting that off). Do what you need to do, cleaning and organizing is not for everyone. If this doesn’t lessen your anger, then don’t do it to reduce your anger!
Exercise does wonders for anger. Exercise doesn’t have to mean an intense session at the local gym pumping iron.
When I get angry, I like to go for walks. During these walks, I might sometimes listen to music as a distraction, or I might focus on my surroundings (this is a way of practicing mindfulness, read about it here). Something about exercise, fresh air, and some nature just puts me in a good mood. But not only does exercise work for me, it just works. Like I mentioned already, anger needs an outlet. What better outlet is there than exercise. Not only are you able to kick the anger, but you can also feel good and get healthy!
#10 Get Counseling
If your anger has become overwhelming and very frequent (or even non-stop) seek professional help. I am talking from experience here (a story for another time and post). Counselors are professionals, they are trained to help you with your anger. They can help you to understand and identify your triggers.
Once you understand your anger, you can work towards decreasing it. Your counselor will work with you to have a plan in place for when you begin to feel angry. If you’re open to getting help from a professional, they can do wonders!
There are also groups for those who struggle with anger. It may sound scary, but these groups are really cool to be a part of! It’s so cool because you are surrounding yourself with others who are going through the same thing you are. Everyone is getting help together while helping each other.
These are just ten ways that are helpful to me when I am feeling angry. What helps you to calm down when you are feeling angry?