Anger management - 10 ways to keep a lid on it

Anger is a natural, normal human emotion, even babies feel it and express it. As an adult, anger helps you respond to threatening situations with a surge of passion and energy when necessary. In pre-civilised times it was a useful part of the survival instinct as it is an automatic defence mechanism, helping people rise to defend themselves and their families when under attack. It is an adrenaline-fuelled response, and when uncontrolled, it will lead you to want to fight – whether with your fists or your voice – or both. In modern times, of course, it is usually not appropriate to let rip, whether you’re at work, at home or in a public place.

Anger can be consciously controlled to a certain degree (see the strategies below), however, anger issues usually indicate that there is a larger problem that needs to be resolved before much progress can be made. A psychotherapist will want to work with you to unearth the root cause of your anger and why you are so quick to lose your temper or lose it to a dangerous degree. It may be that you grew up in an angry family and copied the behaviour from the generation above you. It may be that you are suffering from stress overload and lack of sleep. Or, it could be that you have experienced (or witnessed) abuse or a traumatic event as a child or adult.

10 ways to keep the lid on anger
Whatever the reason, when the purple mist comes down you may not be able to control your thumping heart or your reddening face, but some things are still under your conscious control. Ten things you can do to get through the moment are:

  • Tell yourself to ‘Stop… and calm down’
  • Look away and take a few deep, slow, breaths
  • Count to ten before you do or say anything
  • Take a few steps backwards
  • Lower your voice, and talk slowly and calmly
  • Deliberately distract yourself by concentrating on something else, such as saying the alphabet backwards in your head
  • Think of a calm friend and what they would do in the same situation
  • Don’t raise your hands - hold your arms loosely by your sides, or hold your hands together behind your back if necessary
  • If necessary, walk away from the situation before you blow
  • Spend a few minutes in the loo until you calm down.

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