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BY: Bronwyn McNulty
Unless you’ve spent your last 20 years on a mountain peak in Tibet, you’ve probably felt it at some point: Your heart begins to race, your blood pressure goes up, and before you know it, adrenaline surges through your body and you feel like you could lift that whole aforementioned mountain. Whether it was a thoughtless comment by a co-worker or an outright nasty remark by a friend that brought on these Superman sensations, the result was the same: pure, pulsing anger.
It’s a powerful emotion that can be hard to manage at times -- especially when you feel you’re in the right (and you really are too!). Leave it unchecked, and it can lead to violent outbursts that can affect your health and your relationships professionally, socially or at home.
Of course, you never want it to reach that point. So the next time you feel angry, try these five steps (recommended by Associated Counsellors and Psychologists, Sydney) to manage your feelings before they become unbearable.
1. Remove yourself from the situation. As soon as you find yourself getting angry, remove yourself completely from the situation. If this is not possible, move on to the next step.
2. Breathe and repeat. Try to calm yourself by breathing slowly and assuring yourself that you will be better able to address the situation once you are relaxed. Try saying the word “relax” to yourself -- mentally or out loud -- on each out-breath for 20 deep, slow breaths.
3. Find your triggers. Try to go back in your mind and notice what has brought on your angry feelings. If you are not sure, try to remember when you still felt calm or good, and when things became unpleasant for you. Learn about the smaller signals that can build to anger, like irritation or frustration, and start to notice these. Check your environment and your body for irritants, like chronic pain or a generally uncomfortable environment, or persons or behaviours that irritate you.
4. Be assertive. Once you have noticed what causes your anger, especially if it has been caused by another person, try to express it, at first to yourself, in terms that don’t harm the other person. For example, say, “When I come home, I need a few minutes to unwind. I find I get angry when I have to respond to demands right away. Would you mind giving me a second before asking me to help out with the chores? I would appreciate it.”
5. Keep a log. Keep a log of your anger throughout the day, and note down any triggers. Getting to know your anger and its sources, and learning relaxation skills and assertive communication skills will all help you manage your emotions.
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