What to do about anger

Skip the Small Talk about anger.jpg

Has your anger ever led to an action you regretted? Maybe you sent a text you didn’t feel great about, maybe some words came out of your mouth more harshly than you’d intended, or maybe your anger came out sideways and you spent some time silently fuming and distracted from your everyday life. Since anger can compel you to take action before thinking, it can be useful to have some tools ready for the next time you’re feeling peeved.

The tools mentioned here are going to focus on bringing your body down to physiological baseline. Please, please, please leave any other decision-making and problem-solving for later. When you’re angry, your body gears up its “fight or flight” response, which is rarely ideal for fostering complex thought. Here’s an interesting read for more on how anger influences physiology and brain function. The Cliff Notes version: it’s not good. Unfortunately, this means that when you’re angry, you can feel pretty tempted to take drastic actions. So before you do anything rash, try any of these to help calm you down:

  • First, make sure all your basic needs are taken care of-- if you need to eat, eat. Make sure you’re hydrated. Take a nap if you’re sleep deprived and can make the time, or have some coffee if it’s not too late.
  • Do some exercise, whether it’s a walk, run, or something else.

  • Journal about what’s making you angry

  • Vent to a trusted friend

  • Vent to a therapist or peer support hotline (you can call or text Samaritans, a suicide hotline that does not require you to be suicidal in order to talk to them, at  877- 870-4673-- they’re open 24/7)

  • Listen to music you find calming (this doesn’t need to be Enya or anything-- whatever you actually find peaceful will work best)

  • Do some mindfulness exercises, like bringing your attention to where in your body you’re feeling your anger and/or focusing on your breath, and/or following along with a guided meditation (there are a bunch of free ones on Youtube)

  • Express yourself with art-- if you’re not used to this, it can feel weird, but coloring in an adult (or children’s) coloring book or drawing out everything you’re mad about (stick figures are just fine) can be incredibly cathartic

  • Make yourself some tea

It may take a few of these to help you fully calm down, so take your time. Once you’re feeling relatively close to your emotional baseline again, you can focus on problem-solving, having a metaconversation, or finding a longer-term solution that works for you.


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