1. Think before you speak
In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to say something you’ll later regret. Take a few moments to collect your thoughts before saying anything — and allow others involved in the situation to do the same.
2. Once you’re calm, express your anger
As soon as you’re thinking clearly, express your frustration in an assertive but nonconfrontational way. State your concerns and needs clearly and directly, without hurting others or trying to control them.
3. Get some exercise
Physical activity can help reduce stress that can cause you to become angry. If you feel your anger escalating, go for a brisk walk or run, or spend some time doing other enjoyable physical activities.
4. Take a timeout
Timeouts aren’t just for kids. Give yourself short breaks during times of the day that tend to be stressful. A few moments of quiet time might help you feel better prepared to handle what’s ahead without getting irritated or angry.
5. Identify possible solutions
Instead of focusing on what made you mad, work on resolving the issue at hand. Does your child’s messy room drive you crazy? Close the door. Is your partner late for dinner every night? Schedule meals later in the evening — or agree to eat on your own a few times a week. Remind yourself that anger won’t fix anything and might only make it worse.
6. Stick with ‘I’ statements
To avoid criticizing or placing blame — which might only increase tension — use “I” statements to describe the problem. Be respectful and specific. For example, say, “I’m upset that you left the table without offering to help with the dishes,” instead of, “You never do any housework.”
7. Don’t hold a grudge
Forgiveness is a powerful tool. If you allow anger and other negative feelings to crowd out positive feelings, you might find yourself swallowed up by your own bitterness or sense of injustice. But if you can forgive someone who angered you, you might both learn from the situation. It’s unrealistic to expect everyone to behave exactly as you want at all times.
8. Use humor to release tension
Lightening up can help diffuse tension. Use humor to help you face what’s making you angry and, possibly, any unrealistic expectations you have for how things should go. Avoid sarcasm, though — it can hurt feelings and make things worse.
9. Know when to seek help
Learning to control anger is a challenge for everyone at times. Consider seeking help for anger issues if your anger seems out of control, causes you to do things you regret or hurts those around you.
10. Own It
Pretending you’re not angry—especially while exhibiting nearly cartoonish physical signs of anger—does no good for you, the target of your anger, or your blood pressure. Many people think that to acknowledge anger is the same as acting inappropriately on it. That’s simply not true, and the difference in those two concepts is huge. Admitting that you are upset, whether to yourself, or as calmly as possible to the person you’re in conflict with (“I admit I seem to be getting upset here. I want to resolve this and not do anything I regret, so I am going to try to slow down.”) can validate your feelings. This in turn can help you feel more empowered toward working toward a solution, and it will also diminish the conflict within yourself.
11. Break It Down
So you’re still simmering after your yearly review? If you jot down some of your thoughts, whether with prehistoric pen and paper or with an app du jour, you’ll gain some clarity as to how they’re serving as the antecedents to your feelings. In the process, you can sort out why you’re upset and what steps you can take work through the situation. Perhaps most important, putting your feelings into words can make them feel more tangible, and therefore more manageable—which can eventually help them work their way out of your system.
12. Move It Out
As physical signs go, anger can look very similar to other forms of arousal, like anxiety or even excitement. Calming those physical impulses, or giving them someplace useful to go, can help you get your anger under control. Slow down your breathing through several long, deep breaths. Loosen your muscles through clenching and unclenching your fists and slowly doing a neck roll. If you can use that arousal for good rather than for clocking someone in the face, you’ll be better off. So channel that rage into an activity that can release tension: running, kickboxing, dancing, jumping rope, or even just beating your fists against your chest like a gorilla. A primal scream can be helpful if you are blessed with the space. Instead of letting your frustration burn you up, you can burn it off. And if it comes out in the shape of tears, or even demonic laughter? Just let it.
13. Find The Big Picture
If you’re still feeling steamed from that interaction with your colleague or that snarky tone from the person in line at the coffee shop, it might be time to make a list of the things you’re grateful for. Gratitude meditations, or just sitting and focusing on what’s right in your life, will make what you’re angry about seem more molehill than mountain. You might also choose to think about the person whom you think has wronged you, and imagine what unique challenges they may be reacting to. Think about the ways that they could use some empathy, and try to mentally give it to them—that can often neutralize anger.