Do you ever get that feeling that it’s all too much? Maybe you got in a fight with your partner, you messed up a project, or something didn’t go your way. You feel like there’s a bunch of pent-up steam and energy and you’re about to explode. Learning how to deal with anger isn’t always easy.
Anger is a normal emotion and part of being human. The problem is when you don’t know what to do with it, or worse, you express it in unhealthy ways.
What if you had some tips and methods you could refer to so that whenever you feel angry or that you might lose it, you could calm yourself down and feel in control again?
In this article, I’ll go over 10 tips to help you do just that, and help you find productive and creative ways to deal with anger.
1. Don’t act right now and remove yourself from the situation if possible
When you feel very raw emotions like extreme anger, it might cause you to do something in the moment that you regret later on. You might say or do something you can never take back.
That’s why it’s essential that if at all possible, you do not act when you are feeling extremely angry.
Promise yourself that you WILL take action because of this anger, that you will listen to what it’s trying to tell you, but that right now, you just need to feel things.
If there’s a specific situation or event causing the anger in the moment, try to step away if possible. Acting on impulse, especially when it comes to anger, usually doesn’t end up going well. It might not be realistic to do this all the time, but you can at least not react right away using the next step.
2. Feel the sensations of anger and breathe
Focus on where you feel the anger the most and how.
Do you feel:
- Tensing in your stomach?
- Creasing in your forehead?
- Pain behind your eyes?
- A choking sensation in your throat?
- Clenching in your fists?
Whatever sensation and area you feel the most, focus there, like all the energy of your anger is there, and just let it be without judgement or trying to get rid of it.
This is an extremely tricky part of learning how to deal with anger because most of us don’t like feeling unpleasant emotions like anger. But the more we try to get rid of them, the more they’ll come back.
Create some space between your automatic reaction by at least pausing for one second and breathing. Try using breathing exercises for anxiety that can apply to challenging emotions like anger as well. Everyone can wait one second. If possible, try to wait a bit longer and just breathe into the anger (especially if you can’t step away for a longer period of time from whatever is causing you to feel pissed off).
Whatever you do though, just let the anger be as it is right now. I know it sounds counter-intuitive and you want the anger gone, but pushing it away or trying to get rid of it right now will make it worse. Breathe.
3. Free write everything going on
Take out a sheet of paper and just let your anger express itself.
This paper won’t be seen by anyone except you, so feel free to write all the nastiest, horrible, and “bad” things you feel or hear in your mind. Get it all out. Keep writing and writing.
What you might eventually find is that after a short time, the energy you felt inside you is going down, and your writing slows down too.
After this, rip up, shred, or even burn the paper like you’re burning the anger away. Dealing with anger this way can feel very cleansing as you are letting everything go.
4. Create a “rage room” in your mind and let yourself go
Do you know those “rage rooms” where you can put on a jumpsuit and then smash a bunch of shit with your friends?
Well, why not create one within your own mind?
Close your eyes. Imagine a safe room. Nobody can hear what goes on inside it and you can construct it to your exact specifications: with metallic floors and walls, soft padded ones, decorations or nothing being there at all…whatever works for you.
Imagine yourself being inside and go absolutely nuts. See things you can smash appear with whatever item of your choosing. Smash an expensive vase with a hockey stick, rocket launcher that dish set, or just take a golf club and hit the walls. Scream. Do whatever you want and keep letting your inner anger guide you as you absolutely destroy everything and let all the energy out inside that room.
This is a safe space where you’re letting your anger express itself fully and completely. Part of learning how to love yourself is accepting challenging emotions like anger in their entirety.
5. Make a voice recording
Another way to get your anger out is to use a voice recording to express it.
Again, find a safe place where nobody will hear you. Then, open up a new voice note on your phone or computer and just say how you’re feeling or what’s going on. Nobody is going to hear this except you, so don’t restrain yourself from saying everything that’s on your mind.
After this, you might want to listen back to it to see what was bothering you. Or, you can just delete it.
6. Scream into a pillow
You’ve probably seen this once or twice in the movies, but it really does work.
Take a nice, soft, thick pillow, and curl it around your mouth (make sure you can still breathe though!). Let the anger come to the surface and then focus on projecting ALL of it out throw your yelling and voice.
Keep going and going until you don’t feel like screaming anymore.
7. Work out, do some martial arts, or just get active
Physical activity, of any kind, has been linked in so many studies to releasing endorphins or “happy chemicals” and relieving stress and anger (here’s just one study).
If you’re feeling angry, go work out. Lift some weights, go for a brisk walk, MOVE. If you are into martial arts or boxing, even better.
Imagine the situation, person, or thing that’s causing you to feel angry right before you get active. Take that energy and push it into the workout. Put it into every set when you lift the weights, every punch on the bag, or every stride in the run.
The physical activity and the endorphins will do their work.
8. Vent everything out to a friend / therapist / safe person
Sometimes what you really need is a safe person to just listen to what’s going on, non-judgmentally, so you can get it out of your head and feel like what you’re feeling is normal.
Call up a friend, safe person, or make an appointment with a therapist and just let everything out. Don’t hold back and don’t ask for feedback right now. Let them know you just need them to listen and accept you without judgement or criticism so you can get everything out of your head.
This feeling of being accepted will help you manage anger so that you can work with it more constructively.
9. Get outside
No matter what you do, try to get outside.
Even as an introvert who loves being a homebody, I know that the longer I stay inside my apartment, the more I feel like I’m stuck inside my head. Being inside all the time can magnify any thoughts or emotions you’re feeling, which aren’t fun when they are unpleasant.
Leave the house just to go for a walk and do something. Go somewhere. Anywhere. But don’t stay inside 24/7. Even during the current reality of COVID-19, there are safe ways to leave the house while respecting local rules (of course you should verify with local laws).
10. Get a good night’s sleep after following these steps
While you might not be able to sleep if you’re in the raw emotions and trying to figure out how to deal with anger, once you use some of these tips, you should feel slightly more calm.
After that, I recommend that tonight, you do your best to get a good 8 to 9 hours of sleep. Sleep is like a “state reset” for your mind, and I often find that a good sleep puts me in a much better mood, to the point where a lot of the anger goes away, or that I’m much clearer on figuring out what I need to do about it.
Don’t suppress your anger: feel it, listen to what it’s trying to tell you, and pick a constructive action to move forward
I’m sure you’ve seen a pattern over several of these suggestions when it comes to learning how to deal with anger. It all comes down to fully feeling the anger and then expressing it or transforming it somehow in a healthy/constructive manner. This removes anger’s control over you.
If I were to break it down step-by-step, it would be to note the following steps:
1. Don’t suppress your anger
Never try to suppress your anger as it’ll just come back even stronger. Not only that but suppressing your emotions is extremely unhealthy and can even cause you to age faster.
2. Concentrate on it and feel it
Fully feel the anger. What does it feel like in your body? How does your breathing change? What thoughts are present?
3. Fully express it
Let your anger express itself, whether that be through continuing to feel the sensations in your body, writing it out, speaking it, etc. Let it have its time.
4. Let it go
Once you’ve expressed it, let it go. As strange as it sounds, anger has A LOT of energy behind it, so many times, we want to hold on to it because it makes us feel like taking action, and that we are strong and powerful. Walking around feeling angry is not the best though, as others can sense it and it colors your decisions with that emotion.
Feel it, and let it go.
5. In a more balanced state of mind, reflect on why you feel/felt angry, and what your anger is/was trying to tell you
The most important part after honoring and respecting your anger once you’re in a more balanced state of mind is reflecting on why it came up, what it’s trying to tell you, and what you need to do about it.
Emotions are just pointing out something and it’s up to you to figure out what that something is.
Maybe you need to have a conversation, take an action, or set a boundary.
Whatever it is, make sure to take action. Otherwise, your anger is going to come back again and again until you do. Be patient with yourself as you figure this all out, but over time, you’ll learn how to manage your anger better and it won’t have full control over you.
Summary of steps for how to deal with anger
- Don’t act right now and remove yourself from the situation if possible
- Feel the sensations of anger and breathe
- Free write everything going on
- Create a “rage room” in your mind and let yourself go
- Make a voice recording
- Scream into a pillow
- Work out, do some martial arts, or just get active
- Vent everything out to a friend / therapist / safe person
- Get outside
- Get a good night’s sleep after following these steps