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Anger is a natural emotion—we all feel angry at one point or another. Horns honking early in the morning, bullying at school or a rude colleague, we all have our own triggers for flashes, flares or outbursts of anger.

Medically speaking, anger is an emotional state which varies in intensity from mild annoyance to extreme fury and rage. It is an impulse which can be experienced in order to protect, defend or attack, to guard against a threat or a challenge.

However, if this anger is not tackled, it can turn into hostility and aggression, which can not only harm others but you too. Anxiety, stress, regret, sadness and overall feeling of isolation could follow an angry episode—all of these conditions are known to affect mental health, in turn.

Read on to know some tips that can help you deal with anger.

  1. Know the signs of your anger
  2. Try to minimise your conversations when you are angry
  3. Change your vocabulary
  4. Take a break
  5. Try to determine the cause and solve it
  6. Let the other person finish
  7. Get some exercise
  8. Use humour to release tension
  9. Alien therapy for anger management
  10. Music therapy for anger management
  11. Practice some relaxation exercises
  12. Let it go, do not hold a grudge
  13. Ask for help if you feel you need it

Before you actually explode in front of your loved ones, your body will give you some signals that you are getting angry. Once you realise what these signs are, it should become easier for you to control your anger before things get too heated. The signs of anger may appear as follows:  

  • Clenching of jaws or hands
  • Feeling flushed
  • Sweat dripping down your head
  • Faster breathing
  • Knots in the stomach
  • Sweaty palms
  • Pulsating feeling in the head
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Inability to concentrate on work
  • Tightness around the shoulders

It is entirely possible to say something rude or harsh in the heat of the moment which you might regret later. No matter how tempted you are to let your anger show through your words, try to stay calm.

Take a moment, breathe in and try to think about the consequences and harm that your words may cause.

You can pretend that your lips are glued shut and try not to make any conversation. Stay calm until the other person involved in the conversation becomes quiet too.

Once you and the other person are calm, present your thoughts, concerns and needs in an assertive way.

This would prevent you from doing any harm and would give you a sense of control over your anger. 

Remove from your vocabulary any words or phrases that are demeaning to others. Do not use words that belittle the other person.

Do not criticize or put blame on the other person, as it would add to the tension.

Try to be respectful and specific with what made you angry in that situation. For instance, rather than saying, "You never help me in any of the housework", you might say "I am mad at you as you left the kitchen without helping me clean up after dinner last night."

Do not use words like "never" or "always" in your argument. Phrases such as "you never listen to me", may make you feel that your anger is justifiable and you will never be able to get to the root of the problem. Moreover, it would alienate your friends and loved ones from you.

Take a timeout from your stressful day. If you have just had an argument, taking a few minutes can help you calm down and identify what exactly is making you angry. This would give you a chance to prepare to handle the possible next argument. When you feel angry, just sit alone for at least 15 minutes until your anger subsides. If this personal timeout session makes you feel better in any possible way, just add it to your daily routine.

Don’t just focus on the issue that made you mad, try to identify the cause and resolve the issue at hand.

Every problem has a solution. We need to accept that there is a problem, find it and to solve the underlying issue.

For instance, if you are getting angry because of your child’s room is messy, just close the door. If your partner does not give you enough time, just plan some meals together after your work hours.

You need to accept the fact that anger would not fix any problem but would only make it worse.

It is a natural reaction to get defensive when someone tries to criticize you. But what you need to do is to keep your calm and not fight back until they finish. Try to understand why that person is so upset with you. Maybe that person is feeling neglected and thus is spewing their anger out on you. It will take a lot of patience for you to keep calm but it will help in keeping the situation from becoming a disastrous one.

Studies have shown that people who indulge in physical activity have better control over their anger. Whenever you feel angry, just put on your shoes and go out for a brisk walk or a short run. You can also indulge in some physical activity that makes you happy such as basketball or football. Exercise, walking, running, cycling, swimming or even climbing stairs would help in rushing the blood to your limbs, thus making you feel refreshed.

Well, you might find it silly, but humour can help you defuse the tension. Try to avoid sarcastic jokes as they tend to hurt people, thus making things worse for you.

Lame jokes and silly humour can help you cope with your anger at times. You can open up your phone, plug in your earphones and look for some funny videos online. This would help you forget your anger in minutes.

We tend to say different illogical things to people in anger. For instance, you may call someone a "garbage can" in your rage. Now what you need to do is to imagine a garbage can with hands and legs walking around, going to work and eating food. This would help you to giggle at your own words and also would help you calm your anger.

A new kind of therapy has been introduced by Dr Joseph Gonzalez–Heydrich, assistant professor of psychiatry at the Children’s Hospital Boston, to curb the problem of anger in young children. The programme has been named RAGE Control, which stands for regulate and gain emotional control. This is a behavioural therapy which involves the use of a video game that has been designed to teach anger management to children. 

In this game, players are asked to destroy googly-eyed aliens falling down the screen without harming the friendly snails that squish past the aliens. This game provides an opportunity for people to talk about their actions and feelings in the context of the game rather than making them revisit uncomfortable topics or demeaning them by talking about their past behaviour.

In traditional anger management programmes, the participants are asked to calm themselves by dissociating themselves from tense situations. In RAGE Control, the children are asked to stay internally calm during the intense and frustrating game.

It is a well-known fact that music has a calming and soothing effect on the mind, making you feel relaxed.

Music has always been a subject of interest in forensic psychiatry for anger management. In the year 2015, a study published by Sage on the role of music in an anger management programme found that anger management patients who got music therapy in addition to standard therapy had better coping skills compared with those who got standard`anger management therapy only. Those who got music therapy also showed a faster pace of behavioural changes than the control group who only got standard therapy alone.

For this study, the scientists had compiled the complete data of fourteen patients who received a standard course of treatment. Nine of these patients were given music therapy in their anger management programme and the remaining five patients were only given the standard aggression management therapy.

Your relaxation skills can help you whenever your temper rises. Rather than acting furiously in such situations, you can try out some simple relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing exercises and yoga asanas, to calm your angry feelings. If you are in a relationship where both the partners are short-tempered, you may practice these exercises with your partner. These are some simple steps you can try:

  • Breathe in deeply through the nose and imagine a relaxing scene to calm your anger. Repeat words or phrases like "relax" and "take it easy" in your head while breathing deeply.
  • You may practise some yoga asanas or meditate to relax your muscles and make you feel much calmer. If you are at home or somewhere you can lie down, try doing the savasana for five minutes.
  • Use your imagination and try to relive a relaxing or happy memory from the past. 
  • Roll your shoulders if they feel tense or tight. Or gently massage your neck and scalp.

If you bottle up your anger inside, it will eventually become difficult for you to keep calm. Try to forgive the people who angered you. Don’t hold a grudge, and let go of all the anger and other negative feelings. This would help you learn from the situation and would help in controlling your anger in future situations. The act of forgiveness would help you strengthen your relationship with your loved ones.

While some people do not realise the harm caused by their rage, others regret hurting their loved ones after their anger resolves. It can be difficult or challenging for many people to control their anger at times. It is okay to seek help from a professional to deal with your anger issues. You may take anger management classes where you will be able to meet other people coping with the same struggles and learn some techniques to help manage your anger.

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