Stressed people tend to snap at others more easily, even if it isn’t warranted. In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to say something you’ll regret later. So before you say something that hurts others, try using these tips for managing your temper in times of stress.
1. Avoid people, places, and situations that bring out your worst. Identify items that cause irritable or angry feelings then think about ways to avoid these triggers or view the situation differently. For example, if your daily commute makes you cranky, try a different route, take the bus, or carpool. Alternately, do something such as listen to books on tape so that you’ll feel the time isn’t wasted.
2. Use calming techniques. There are many techniques that can help you cool down.
Take deep breaths. Deep, slow breathing from your diaphragm helps counteract rising tension.
- Exercise. A brisk walk around the block can release pent-up energy so you can approach the situation in a calmer manner. Similarly, doing a few yoga poses can help keep you calm.
- Use your senses. Try picturing yourself in a relaxing place such as the ocean or mountains. Try listening to calming music.
- Slowly count to ten. Focus solely on counting to let your rational mind catch up with your disruptive feelings. If you reach ten and are still feeling quite angry, start over again.
3. Talk about how you feel. Discussing your feelings with a trusted friend can help you get a different perspective on the cause of your frustration.
4. Analyze the way you think. Try to let go of negative ways of thinking. Avoid using phrases that include:
- Always (for example, “You always do that.”)
- Never (“You never get home for dinner on time.”)
- Shouldn’t (“You shouldn’t stay out so late.”)
- It’s not fair (“It’s not fair I have to do this.”)
5. Take a timeout. Give yourself short relaxation breaks during times of the day that tend to be stressful.
6. Use humor. Humor can help release tension. Use it to help you face what’s making you angry. Avoid sarcasm, though–this type of humor is just another form of aggression.
7. Use logic. Even when it’s justified, anger can quickly making even the most logical person irrational. Slow down and remind yourself that the world is really not out to get you. Remind yourself that everyone experiences rough patches now and then. In using these reminders, you’ll get a more balanced perspective.
7. Listen better. When people are angry, they tend to jump to conclusions. Slow down in heated discussions. Listen carefully to what the other person is saying and then think carefully before answering. Try to listen to what is beneath the words. Maybe a coworker is feeling undervalued or your partner is feeling neglected. Keep asking questions until you unearth the problem and don’t let anger spin things out of control.
If you still can’t seem to control your anger by yourself, consider seeking help. You can most likely find anger management classes in your community. Your primary care physician can recommend therapists that specialize in the subject or perhaps suggest changes to your lifestyle (eating, sleeping, alcohol intake, etc.) that can help. Just remember—anger doesn’t have to control your life!
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How do you manage temper?