The pandemic has been hard for so many us. Many of my clients have complained of increased frustration, irritability, and spikes of anger.
Hopefully, the pandemic is waning so we can begin to return to normal life. Many however, have had their communities disrupted and their friends have drifted away with concerns and differences about masks, vaccines, and social distancing. Stress levels and anxiety have increased along with feelings of loneliness. All of this can contribute to mood fluctuations and instability, adding to already increased levels of frustration, irritability, and feelings of overwhelm and mixed emotions.
Whether it remains repressed or gets expressed, anger can create serious repercussions. When directed outward, it can lead to spikes of anger or rage that can be damaging to our loved ones and relationships. On the other hand, when anger is suppressed with no knowledge of how to appropriately express anger, it can lead to bouts of depression.
The good news is, you can take simple steps to moderate these episodes and their effects—or, when necessary, seek help so that anger doesn’t spiral into a more serious condition.
The Amen Clinic has offered a series of tips to help you quickly alleviate your anger.
11 STRATEGIES TO QUICKLY ALLEVIATE ANGER
When anger strikes, it’s a good idea to use tactics to distract yourself, even for just a few moments, to gather up some calm and view the situation with a clearer mind—thus allowing for a more measured and appropriate response. Here are 11 methods that may help; after some trial and error, keep a list of your favorites handy so that you can easily refer to them in the heat of the moment.
- Pause and evaluate your goals.
Taking a more rational view of the situation and envisioning your ideal outcome can put some needed distance between the circumstances at hand and your emotions. Before lashing out, ask yourself, “Does it fit?” Does your behavior fit the goals you have for your life?
- Identify and watch out for your unique anger warning signs.
When you know what happens to alert you to anger (such as shallow breathing or increased heart rate), you can take steps at the earliest opportunity to head it off or address it.
- Practice deep breathing.
If you feel symptoms of anger coming on, try this simple breathing strategy: Take 10 deep breaths (breathe in for 3 seconds, hold for 1 second, breathe out for 6 seconds, hold for 1 second). In less than 2 minutes, you’ll feel calmer and thus able to express your feelings more effectively.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for a time-out.
If you can’t trust or control your own reaction in the face of anger, slow down or, if necessary, exit the situation. For example, head outside, end the phone call or reschedule that meeting.
- Turn on some soothing sounds.
Research shows that music can help improve mood and lessen the effects of stress, while another study found that natural sounds (like flowing water or trees blowing in the wind) help relax the body and mind.
- Move your body.
Taking a walk or exercising helps expel buildups of negative energy.
- Wash away your cares by taking a shower or bath.
Baths in particular have been shown to offer both physical and emotional boosts.
- Grab a pen and paper, and start writing.
Journaling helps exorcise destructive thought loops. One study showed that writing about negative emotions and trying to make cognitive sense of the situation on the page create an effective one-two punch to help overcome stressors and even improve health.
- Try aromatherapy.
Breathe in calming scents, like lavender. Studies have shown the positive psychological effects of certain fragrances, which can be tapped in the form of candles, oils, sachets, diffusers, and more.
- Eat a healthy snack.
Getting hangry? If hunger is the culprit that’s making you feel quick to anger, grab a healthy snack to get your blood sugar levels back on track.
- Take a brief nap.
If lack of sleep is the issue, a catnap may help. A snooze of fewer than 30 minutes has been shown to improve performance and learning ability, making you less apt to snap.
And one crucial don’t: Avoid drinking or drugs as a shortcut to calming down. Studies have shown that reducing alcohol intake significantly decreases negative emotions, and the World Health Organization associates alcohol consumption with aggressive behavior more than any other psychotropic substance.
If anger is interfering with your life, relationships, and/or performance, it might be time to seek help. If curious, you can email Joy Reichard or call her at 415-819-8769 to schedule a complimentary 20-minute phone consultation to see how she can to help you live a happier, calmer, and more stress-free life. Or you can go to her scheduling page to schedule a consultation TODAY!