Struggling to stay in control? It really could be as simple as counting to ten says Dr Vasos Silivistris
It is important to understand that it is not people or events that make you angry, but your reaction to them.
Top tips to help get your anger under control.
Take a ‘timeout.’
Although it may seem cliché, counting to ten before reacting really can defuse your temper.
Get some space.
Take a break from the person you are angry with until your frustrations subside a bit.
Once you are calm, express your anger.
It is healthy to express your frustration in a non-confrontational way. Stewing about it can make the situation worse.
Get some exercise, which can help with irritability.
Physical activity can provide an outlet for your emotions, especially if you are about to erupt. Go for a brisk walk, run, swim, lift weights or shoot baskets.
Think carefully before you say anything, otherwise, you are likely to say something you will regret.
It can be helpful to write down what you want to say so that you can stick to the issues. When you are angry, it is easy to be sidetracked.
Identify solutions to the situation.
Instead of focusing on what made you mad, work with the person who angered you to resolve the issue at hand.
Use ‘I’ statements when describing the problem.
This will help you to avoid criticising or placing blame, which can make the other person angry, and resentful and increase tension. For instance, say, “I’m upset you didn’t help with the housework this evening,” instead of, “You should have helped with the housework.”
Do not hold a grudge.
If you can forgive the other person, it will help you both. It is unrealistic to expect everyone to behave exactly as you want.
Use humour to release tensions.
Lightening up can help diffuse tension. Do not use sarcasm, it can hurt feelings and make things worse.
Practise relaxation skills.
Learning skills to relax and de-stress can also help control your temper when it may flare up.
Practise deep-breathing exercises, visualise a relaxing scene, or repeat a calming word or phrase to yourself, such as “Take it easy.”
Other proven ways to ease anger include listening to music, writing in a journal, and doing yoga.
Getting anger management help
You can practise many of these anger management strategies on your own. However, if your anger seems out of control, is hurting your relationships, or makes you feel physically violent and destructive, you may benefit from some help.
Seeing a therapist can help you learn to recognise your anger, enable you to recognise warning signs before you blow up and how to cope with your anger.
Take an anger management class
An anger management class can teach you what anger is, how to recognise anger triggers and how to keep your anger under control. These courses can be done individually, with spouses/families, or in groups.
Read a book
There are several helpful books on anger management. A number of them focus on particular situations, such as anger in teens, anger in men, or anger in couples. Many of them are workbooks, with exercises that teach concrete skills.
Anger and irritability can be signs of an underlying mental health condition, such as depression or bipolar disorder.
If your symptoms do not improve, or you have signs or symptoms of anxiety or depression, seek a psychotherapist who will be able to help you.
Dr Vasilios Silivistris (Vasos) is a psychotherapist, counselling practitioner psychotherapycounselling.uk/