In moments of frustration, hurt, and disappointment, anger often seems like the most easily accessible and highly charged emotion.
Can you recall times when your anger got the better of you? It happens to all of us.
The problem is, when acting on anger, we tend to do and say things we regret later.
Here are five strategies you can try to diffuse your anger in the moment and ensure you aren't apologizing for embarrassing behavior later:
Breathe. Breathing has the powerful ability to reset your system. It can create a quick shift in your emotional state and attitude. Often we don’t notice our breath because it is an automatic process. When we hone in on our breathe and take slow deep breaths that fill our entire lungs to our belly, we are focusing our attention and practicing what is called diaphragmatic breathing. Try this,
Take a deep breath through your nose. Let the air go all the way through your lungs until you can feel and see your belly rise. A good rule of thumb is a 5-6 second breathe in. When your lungs are full hold this breath for 3-5 seconds. Finally, release this breath slowly through your mouth. It helps to use pursed lips. Think duck face.
Be aware. Sometimes anger can be built up inside and caused by multiple situations. It’s best to try to keep your frustrations separate from one another to avoid explosion. This is easier said than done, but through awareness you can reconnect with the underlying emotions that may be leading to your anger. Try to reflect on your situation and observe your surroundings.
What are the reasons behind your anger? Is there anything in your immediate environment that you can do or change to lessen the anger? What do you see? What do you hear? What do you smell? Engage your senses and increase your awareness.
Use guided imagery. Guided imagery is a technique often used in meditation but it can be used in everyday life at any given moment. You can use guided imagery by closing your eyes, using deep breathing strategies and then thinking of some place where you feel the happiest or someplace you might feel happiness. Try to picture that place in your mind, paying close attention to the nuanced details.
What is it like there? What do you see, smell and hear? If you were to be in that place, what would you be feeling? Can you elicit that feeling now? Is it peaceful, calming, serene, refreshing? Do you feel relaxed? Do you feel happy?
Staying with a positive image for as little as 2-3 minutes can shift the information processing systems of your brain, thus diffusing your anger.
Talk or write it out. If you are able to talk your frustrations out with a friend or a partner, do it! Even talking to a furry friend can be helpful. Talking through your thoughts out loud can help you see the situation through a different lens. If you are unable to talk it out or are uncomfortable doing it, try writing down your thoughts on a piece of paper or in a journal. You can even destroy that paper afterwards.
Work it out. Exercising increases endorphins and decreases stress. Endorphins are your body's natural calming mechanism. When moments of frustration take over and anger is intense, take it to the mat instead of taking it out on those you love.
These are a few techniques for diffusing your anger. If you are noticing that your anger is causing harm in your life on a regular basis and you are unable to successfully diffuse your anger on your own, it may be beneficial to seek out help from a professional therapist.
Blog post by:
Kristin Free, LCSW
Wyntur Henderson, BA
I am Kristin Free, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. I write the articles in this blog. They are articles intended to offer information, encouragement and inspiration in the area of whole body health and wellness. If you would like to contact me to see how I might be able to support you in your journey towards wellness, please visit my home page. If any of these articles have inspired you or touched your heart in any way, then I can say I have accomplished what I set out to do. I welcome your feedback and I hope you enjoy.