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6 Healthy Ways to Deal With Anger

Anger is easily described using strong words like "steaming" or "furious," showing how common it is. It's a basic human emotion that can be both complex and powerful. People generally dislike feeling angry and want to get rid of it, but it can also make folks feel strong. However, handling anger well is tough for many. Dealing with anger is challenging, and that's why anger-management classes exist. Anger causes problems in society, like violence and health issues. It's linked to aggressive behavior, road-rage incidents, and even heart problems. It can lead to short- and long-term health problems, like inflammation, chronic illnesses, and mental health struggles. It also raises blood pressure and heart rate, increasing the risk of heart issues. Experts offer advice on better ways to handle and show anger.

1. Focus on relaxing rather than venting

Anger is often compared to steam building up in a pressure cooker, with the idea that releasing some of it can prevent an explosion. However, this approach might not be effective. When we're angry, our emotions are intense, and releasing anger by shouting or venting can actually keep those intense feelings alive, similar to adding fuel to a fire.

Instead, it's better to lower the intensity of our emotions. People might think that activities like exercising or running can help, but these can actually increase emotional intensity. To manage anger more effectively, it's suggested to reduce the heightened emotions through methods like deep breathing, meditation, yoga, or progressive muscle relaxation. These techniques provide healthier ways to dissipate anger.

2. Take a time out

Drs. John and Julie Gottman, who are relationship experts, suggest an important tip: During conflicts, take a break from each other to self regulate. When we are emotionally overwhelmed or flooded it is hard to communicate effectively. By stepping away for a short time, you can return with a calmer perspective and think about your response thoughtfully instead of reacting impulsively in the heat of the moment.

3. Try the 30-30-30 intervention

When feeling highly agitated, taking a step back can be challenging. An effective technique is the "30-30-30 intervention." First, give yourself 30 seconds to leave the situation. Then, spend 30 seconds on a different activity to shift your focus. Finally, use the last 30 seconds to create a balanced coping statement. For example, if you are upset about someone's behavior, walk away, then do another activity,( like have a sip of water, or listening to music), and then reframe your thoughts to maintain a constructive mindset and better handle your emotions. This approach helps you approach the situation with a more composed perspective.

4. Keep an anger log

For those wanting to handle their feelings better, a useful method is to look at when and why they feel angry. Keeping track of the situations that make them angry each week can help. Individuals should write down what happened, when it occurred, how they felt, and how they reacted. This works for everyday annoyances like waiting in line or more serious issues like unfair treatment. By looking closely at these situations, they can learn how to deal with their anger in a more effective way.

5. Use assertive communication

One of the healthiest ways to express anger is through assertive communication. This involves respecting both yourself and the other person. The goal is to share your feelings, explain why you feel that way, and discuss your desired outcome. Instead of using "you" statements, opt for "I" statements to convey your emotions. Additionally, consider the timing of the conversation; it's best to wait until you can communicate clearly and respectfully, rather than when you're boiling with anger. Checking in with the other person about their feelings and any issues they might have can be valuable as well as ensuring it is the right time and place for the conversation.

6. Seek professional help

Sometimes, you might need help to manage your anger. Friends, family, or the lack of progress in your efforts could show that. If you're struggling with strong anger, it can be hard to judge yourself accurately. Ask: Do you get really angry often and for a long time? Do you react with physical actions like hitting walls?

Working with a Registered Clinical Counsellor or joining an anger management program, which can last anywhere from 6-12 weeks, can be helpful. Working with a counsellor can teach people how to identify other underlying feelings, understanding others' feelings, knowing the difference between responding and reacting, talking effectively, solving conflicts, and having reasonable expectations. These programs can be adapted for different ages, and people often find it helpful to learn anger management skills.

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