“Anger dwells only in the bosom of fools.”
~ Albert Einstein
How to deal with anger will be the subject of today’s fireside chat 🙂 Dealing with anger is a big problem for a lot of us I think. I know that I have my own anger issues that I constantly struggle with but I have found ways to limit the affect of my wrath on myself and others.
But first let’s take a look at the incentives over why you might want to learn how to cope with your anger. Having a hair trigger temper or flying off the handle easily is not just about upsetting other people or yourself.
Anger actually causes physiological responses in our own bodies and these are not good responses. Anger is a stress response and stress is damaging to our innards. Mostly the heart and blood vessels.
In fact those quick to anger have a 19% higher incidence of developing heart disease and a 24% higher chance of poor prognosis in having developed heart disease. In other words, getting angry is hurting your heart.
So learning how to deal with anger and frustration is important not only so we can learn to get along with people but also so that we can be kinder to ourselves and stop hurting ourselves. In a very real sense, anger is a double edged sword that cuts both ways. So let’s take a look at some ways to deal with anger which will also be some ways to deal with stress as they are very often interlinked.
In solitude find the seeds of anger
It is very difficult to deal with anger when it has erupted. Like a boiling pot that has boiled over and spilled its contents, it takes a while for the eruption to subdue even after the pot has been removed from the boilerplate.
The same is with anger. You need some time away from the even in order to ascertain and take stock of what caused the anger in the first place.
Anger as I’ve mentioned before is a stress response. And most times we become angry over events that are beyond our control. Think about that for a minute. You’re driving in your car and somebody cuts you off and you start cursing them and giving them the finger and your blood pressure starts sky rocketing.
You became angry over an event that you had no control of. How about you come home and your spouse hasn’t cooked dinner and you’re hungry and frustrated over a bad day at work. So you start yelling at your wife/husband and it’s all down hill from there.
Again, that’s a situation that you don’t really have control over. So take a moment after you’ve been angry when you can sit quietly and think about what caused you to become angry.
But don’t just look at the superficial aspects of it, you’ve got to look deeper.
Let’s take our first situation when you were cut off by a thoughtless driver. You got angry because that “idiot” cut you off. Not really, that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Think or dig a little deeper into the day’s history. Perhaps you are overtired and woke up grumpy from a bad dream. Then you spilled oatmeal on your tie and had to change again which made you late for work. So you were rushing and didn’t leave much space in front of you so the guy cuts you off and you explode.
But do you see how your anger was a chain of events? All these events were tinder that flamed to life when your anger sparked them.
And all of these things were mostly beyond your control. Anger in this case and usually in greater than 99% of cases is a delayed response to built up frustration and pent up stress.
A psalm for some calm
Psalm 23 is a very calming paragraph. We have probably all heard it. If you are not Christian then you can find solace in many of the words found in the holy book’s of your own faith.
If you are not religious there are many poems and phrases that can be found that offer a calming effect to the body. A funny limerick can also help take the edge off of your anger:
There once was a farmer from Leeds
Who swallowed a packet of seeds
It soon came to pass
He was covered with grass
But has all the tomatoes he needs
Eventually you will find a method or a mantra that you can use to dial down your anger when it comes. The key is to use this phrase or mantra as needed when you feel your anger boiling. Even just counting to ten can be an effective strategy.
Personally I have found taking deep breaths will help cool off my anger. This works great because anger increases your respiration and blood pressure and by taking half a dozen deep breaths it really mitigates the effect of anger on your body.
Take 6 deep breaths for a count of 6. Hold it for 6 and then exhale for 6. Stay exhaled for 6 and repeat for the 6 breaths or as many as you’d like.
Sweep the temple – keep it clean
The temple here is your body. As we spoke about earlier, your angry flare ups are likely triggered from a series of causes. It is usually only the last one that breaks the camel’s back as we say.
One of the best anger management techniques is to use nutritional and lifestyle support to help your body stay healthy and with an inner calm.
Getting regular and sufficient sleep is crucial. Aim for 8 hours a night and get to bed before midnight. I have found that if I get to bed before midnight – 11pm latest for me – that I feel more rested in the morning and less grumpy. If you need to get up early then you need to get to bed earlier too.
A healthy diet is also super important in dealing with anger issues. You will be surprised how effective this technique is. If you minimize empty calories, high fat foods and the white foods and instead it wholesome plant foods with grains and beans and plenty of veggies and fruits, the effects will be dramatic after just a short few weeks.
Limiting or eliminating alcohol and caffeine and pop can also do well to keep your body calmer and a calm body can better hold a calm mind.
If you feel you need additional nutritional support, camomile tea is helpful. The herbs valerian root and St. John’s wort can be beneficial in soothing and calming a weary body and spirit. Used as teas or tinctures they are not magic pills but can go along way to helping you deal with frustration and anger.
The calming effect of community
Often if we feel disconnected to others that can cause frustration and bouts of anger where we lash out at strangers and other people.
Seek communal support as one of the healthy ways to deal with anger. There are free help hotlines where you can talk to someone anonymously about your anger problems. Seek out a trusted counsellor if you have the resources for that. Counsellors are very helpful and are trained to deal with anger management problems.
Another good method for how to control anger over the long term is to join a gym or club. Working out and tiring the body can help lessen the quick burn of anger. The social aspect is terrific and rewarding too.
Above all else, remember to be kind and gentle to yourself as you work through these anger management tips. Coping with stress is not easy, but it is rewarding and well worth the effort. You are here reading this so you recognize the problem and that is the first and perhaps biggest step to take in dealing with anger. Well done and keep up the good work. A new and calmer, saner you awaits just around the corner.