How to Release Anger: Four Techniques for Managing Emotions
We all encounter things that make us angry during the day. It could be the traffic we sit in on our way to work, the opinions of a very outspoken co-worker or just the fact that our computer isn’t moving fast enough to get the job done. You might even be mad at yourself for missing a deadline or showing up late. Anger isn’t productive though — especially in the workplace.
If you find yourself getting angry during the day and it’s affecting your productivity, here are four tips and tricks to help you manage your emotions more effectively.
1. Know the Two Types of Anger
The word anger is just a blanket term for a host of varied and complex emotions. The Mayo Clinic defines anger as the natural response to a threat, but in many cases, that threat isn’t tangible. Sure, a car accident is a physical threat, but getting stuck in traffic and showing up late to work is an intangible one.
Start by knowing the two types of anger — passive and aggressive. Passive anger is the type that bubbles and stews just under the surface. It often manifests as things like rudeness or sarcasm, and the people who are experiencing this type of anger might not even realize they’re angry.
Aggressive anger is more violent and may manifest as tantrums or rage. These are the people who flip tables or break their knuckles on the nearest wall when they’re mad.
If you find yourself being meaner or more sarcastic than usual, take a step back and see if you might be angry about something.
2. Redirect Your Anger
Emotions can be a useful tool. They motivate and push you to keep moving forward even when you feel like you want to quit. Even anger can be a useful tool, but only if you redirect it into something constructive. Don’t throw all your dishes across the kitchen when you get mad — you’ll have to clean them up once they’re all broken, and then you need to buy new plates.
Instead of letting your anger make you lash out, channel those feelings into something constructive. If we go back to our dishes analogy, take that anger and focus it on cleaning up the dishes and coming up with a way to keep them clean, so you don’t end up with a sink full of dirty plates in the future that will make you angry again.
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3. Walk Away
If you find yourself in a situation that’s making you angry, the best thing you can do to mitigate that emotion is walk away. Remove yourself from the area and take a few minutes to calm down. Take a minute — or five — and find a way to let go of some of those angry feelings so you can get back to work or to being productive.
A few ideas to get you started might include:
- Focus on Your Breathing: Try breathing in for a five count, holding your breath for a five count and then exhaling for a five count. This exercise helps to calm you by making you focus on something other than your anger.
- Meditate: A quick 60-second medication can be enough to help you clear your mind. PixelThoughts is one tool that lets you put what is bothering you into a star, then guides you through a short meditation as your problems become smaller and fade into the distance.
- Go for a Walk: Get your body moving. Exercise, no matter how brief, encourages your body to produce feel-good chemicals like endorphins and serotonin. These help to cancel out the adrenaline and cortisol your body releases — stress hormones — in response to anger.
Find something that works for you, but make sure you remove yourself from the situation that’s making you mad.
4. Don’t Lash Out
Rage Rooms, or areas where you can go put on a pair of safety glasses and break things with a sledgehammer, have grown in popularity as a way to manage anger. The rationale is that you channel your rage into a single destructive act, and it goes away. While you might feel better after destroying something, recent studies have started to suggest this isn’t a healthy way to deal with your emotions.
The act of destroying something when you’re angry conditions you to respond with violence the next time that you’re mad. While Rage Rooms can be fun, they aren’t a healthy coping mechanism and can lead to more problems in the future.
The key to letting go of anger is to learn how to manage your emotions. Take the time to find something that works for you, whether that means going for a run or meditating for a few minutes when you get angry. We all get mad — what varies is how we handle that anger and whether or not we let it control our actions.
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Also published on Medium.