Take Control Of Your Anger

Here are some strategies for controlling your anger and hostility.

  • Know the physical sensations associated with your anger. This alerts you to the early warning signs of anger, which will help you control it. It may be a knot in your stomach, your face getting flushed, your heart pounding, your chest getting tight, your muscles tensing, your fists clenching, sweating, or your head buzzing.
  • Talk yourself out of being angry by rationally reasoning with yourself. This allows you to recognize objectively, for instance, that the driver in front of you isn’t trying to prevent you from getting to work.
  • Stop your angry thoughts and urges by literally shouting “Stop!” – out loud in the car or to yourself when you’re with others. This strategy is effective in preventing you from ruminating obsessively and preparing your body to “fight.”
  • Find a distraction. When you’re stuck in traffic, turn on the radio. Stuck in a grocery line? Pick up a magazine. Because it’s difficult for our minds to focus on two things at once, a distraction like this can short-circuit anger.
  • Take a time out – literally or mentally. Walk away, count to ten, distract yourself, or bite your tongue.
  • Relax your muscles. Anger tenses our muscles. So take a slow, deep breath from your gut. Then notice where you’re tensing up and relax those muscles.
  • Cultivate a calm nervous system by limiting your consumption of caffeine, nicotine, and sweets.
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