Ticked off, peeved, irritated, bothered, annoyed, no matter how you say it, being angry is an emotion no one enjoys feeling. But while it's completely normal and human to experience anger--even Jesus got angry!--problems can come into play when we don't process our feelings in a healthy way. Anger can become a very real, chronic issue, if not handled properly and in a timely manner. You could find yourself blowing up at the smallest things, unable to control your emotions and doing or saying things in the heat of the moment that you later regret. Worst of all, anger can begin controlling your life without your awareness or permission.
In 2001, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I wasn’t a good candidate for chemo. I took tamoxifen instead and gave my trouble to God—just as Dr. Peale suggested in his book, "Thought Conditioners". Since then I’ve remained cancer free. -Guideposts Magazine reader
Here are some healthy ways to process your anger the next time you start to lose your cool:
1) Start Counting
It may sound silly, but counting to ten (or, if you’re really angry, 100) is a great way to immediately relieve some built up tension. Why? Because it focuses your mind on the specific task of taking care of yourself first. Anger causes your blood pressure and heart rate to rise so counting to whatever number is appropriate for you will give your body a chance to cool off and slow down your breathing so you can get some time to think before saying or doing something you might regret.
2) Give Yourself A Time Out
No, you’re not five years-old anymore and yes, it may be a weird thing to try, but if it works for kids, why wouldn’t a “time out” work for you too? You don’t have to put yourself in a corner or send yourself up to your room, but taking brief breaks throughout the day may help you manage the stress. A bit of quiet time is often the best form of therapy when it comes to anger because it gives you the chance to calm down and reflect on what exactly you're angry about and how the problem can best be solved.
3) Hit The Gym
Nothing de-stresses the body quite like exercise. When you find yourself angry about something you cannot control or change, it's great to take some control over your emotions and get those feel-good endorphins pumping through your system with a trip to the gym. Go for a quick jog or a 30 minute walk, try a Pilates or Yoga class. Just get your body moving so your mind can start to relax, giving you full control over your anger instead of the other way around.
4) Address the Issue
Plenty of things can cause anger but those problems can also be solved, if you’re willing to meet them head on. Rather than just blowing up and storming off when your teen misbehaves, your co-worker annoys you or your spouse doesn’t see eye-to-eye with you on a certain issue, work on getting to the root of the problem. Discussing differences in a way that all parties involed feel respected is something every human being is capable of doing and being able to not only let someone you care about know how you feel, but do so in a healthy, mature way is the best course of action when you start to feel that anger rise. It's not the easiest option; it may be hard and it may even be very painful, but it will be worth it.
5) Find a Way to Let Go
A grudge is an awful thing to carry and it does nothing to help the bigger problems you might be facing. Consider where your anger truly comes from, get to the source and then learn to make peace with it. Learning to accept that you may never get the apology you want from someone and being able to forgive them anyway and move forward whole and healthy is one of the biggest lessons in life but it’s also one of the only ways to finally say goodbye to the angrier you.
6) Get Help
We can’t do everything on our own. While some may find it embarrassing or a sign of weakness to ask for help, in fact, seeking advice and guidance with your anger issues is often the best course of action. Whether it’s a parent, friend, co-worker or a professional, share your anger issues with someone. Opening up and admitting that things may be getting out of control is often the first long-term solution to your anger problem.