Things to Do When You’re Angry

Are you an angry bird? Try these simple tricks to chill and think before you act.


Do something, don’t stew

If you are angry with a politician, policy, or other public injustice, do something about it. In one study, researchers from the University of Wisconsin tracked the brain-wave patterns in students who had just been told the university was considering big tuition increases.

They all exhibited brain patterns signifying anger, but signing a petition to block the tuition increases seemed to provide satisfaction. Put simply, working to right a wrong is life-affirming and positive. Stewing in a bad situation without taking action is the opposite.

However, your bad mood might not be situational; these 8 medical conditions might be the reason for your bad mood.


Don’t beat up your pillow

Think hitting something will feel cathartic and help you reduce your anger? Punching a pillow (or a person) doesn’t help, according to a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Contrary to popular belief, these common reactions don’t decrease your anger. In fact, the researchers found they may actually increase your hostility.


Take three deep breaths

When you’re angry, your body becomes tense, says Robert Nicholson, PhD, a former assistant professor of community and family medicine at St. Louis University in St. Louis, MO. Breathing deeply helps you learn how to calm down by lowering your internal anger meter. Deep breathing is just one of the many ways you can instantly turn a bad mood around.


Understand your anger

Think like a detective and track down clues about the kinds of situations, people, and events that trigger your anger, says Nicholson. Once you’re aware of them, try to avoid them if possible. If you can’t avoid them, at least you’ll know to anticipate them, which will give you more time to prepare for them so they don’t affect you so negatively.

You can also think of the situation as an opportunity to practice not getting worked up. Next time you start to feel the anger boiling up inside you, try these 7 tricks to help you work through your frustrations without complaining.


Don’t lose it

Whoever loses it, loses. Losing your temper makes you look like the bad guy to everyone else, no matter who is really at fault, says Tina Tessina, PhD, a psychotherapist in Long Beach, CA, and the author of It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction.

To learn how to calm down fast, visualize a scene in which you got angry and replay the tape several times, each time envisioning yourself responding a different way.

You’re actually rehearsing different reactions and giving yourself new options. The next time you’re close to losing your temper, one of these options will pop into your mind, providing you with a better response.


Go for a walk

When you get really angry, walk away from the source, Tessina says. A five-minute walk outside or another calming activity like yoga are both great coping strategies for dealing with anger.

If your anger stems from the traffic jam you’re stuck in, turn up the radio and sing at the top of your lungs. The idea: Create a mental or physical escape from the situation.

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