No one likes being angry. Anger can be all-consuming, terrible, and extremely hard to let go of. It can make you see red and make unwise choices that you’ll eventually grow to regret. It can sour joyous situations, damage relationships, and bring you down when you least need it.
Not everyone struggles with anger. For some, the mood is a rare one. But not all of us are so lucky. Some find anger impossible to avoid. If that’s you, don’t feel bad. Anger is just one aspect of your rich emotional life. It isn’t wrong, and it doesn’t mean you’re somehow worse than some of your more mellow friends.
We all have demons that we struggle with. If anger is one of yours, it’s not the end of the world. Many people are prone to anger, and many find it difficult to break through it. If that’s you, know that you’re not alone. There are people like you everywhere.
If you’re looking for advice on how to break through an angry mood, here are some strategies that might help you through it:
Look out for the signs
Breaking through an angry mood is not an easy task. It can be especially difficult if you’re really, really angry. Once your anger has consumed you, it’s near impossible to keep a cool head and try to talk yourself down from it.
That’s why it’s so important to try to recognize the signs of you getting angry. Catch it before it gets fully going.
If you can start dealing with anger just as it’s coming to you, it will make your life so much simpler. After all, it’s easier to deal with anger when it’s just started to simmer. Don’t wait until it’s boiling.
Take a time-out
Sometimes, the best thing you can do is just step back and breathe. Instead of stoking the fire, try calming it with some mindfulness.
Breathe in, breathe out. Count to ten. Instead of focusing on your emotional state, try redirecting your attention to your surroundings.
Look around and make a list of all the things you can see. Maybe do it alphabetically – can you see something that begins with an A? Oh, an apple. Perfect! Now, how about something that starts with the letter B?
If you’re less of a visual person, maybe focus on what you can hear instead. Are there cars passing by your window? Is the neighbor upstairs walking around again? Can you hear the fridge whirring?
Try taking a time-out from your feelings. Detach yourself from your inner turmoil by focusing on what’s real and right in front of you in the physical world. It might not rid you of your anger completely, but it could take the edge off.
Ask to be left alone
If the reason for your anger is related to those around you, remember that it’s okay to ask to be left alone. Chances are that these people don’t actually want to be contributing to your anger. There is nothing wrong with needing to calm down on your own.
Ask those around you to leave you alone for a couple of minutes so that you can collect yourself. Or just explain that you need a moment to yourself and leave on your own. As long as you communicate your needs clearly, they will understand. Removing yourself from a situation is often the best thing for your mental health.
Tip: If you’re someone that struggles with anger often, you can even discuss this with people beforehand. Open up to your friends and family. Let them know that you need to be left alone when you’re overcome with anger. That way, you’re letting them know that when the time comes, your leaving is truly nothing personal – it’s just a coping mechanism, nothing more than that.
Sometimes, the best way to deal with anger is to understand where it is coming from. Try taking a step back and tracing it back to its root.
When did this feeling start? How did it come about? What were the circumstances? Did it build up over time, or did it appear quite suddenly? What was the cause?
You can try tracing it back in your mind, or you can try talking about it, too. If there is someone you trust near you, walk them through what happened. The conversation might help you uncover a hidden truth or two.
Once you understand what it is that’s made you angry, you can start working on eliminating the problem.
Redirect your energy
If trying to calm down and fix the problem isn’t your style, you can always try using all that pent-up energy in a different way. Instead of letting go of your anger, use it. Channel it into some sort of activity.
Physical activity is often the best way to do this. Anger can leave you feeling like you want to kick something. Use that. Go for a walk, or maybe even for a run. Start jumping around if you feel like it. Scream if you think it will help (unless it might scare your neighbors, then maybe don’t).
Put all that energy somewhere where you can express it in a safe way.
Diffuse the tension
Don’t underestimate the power of a good laugh. It can completely change the mood and disarm the anger you’re trying to fight.
Try watching a funny video. Listen to a song that makes you happy. Pull a silly face in the mirror.
Or, if all else fails, try to take a step back and think about what the situation might look like from the outside. Sometimes, we get angry about the silliest things, and with some distance, we can see how it’s not all that serious after all.
Really, the things we get angry about sometimes seem like something from a comedy movie rather than a drama. If you can learn to see it that way, you might be able to diffuse the tension pretty quickly.
Anger is not a nice feeling, and it can be hard to deal with. Next time, try one of the strategies above and see if it helps. Don’t be afraid to adjust any of them to fit your needs better. We’re all different, after all.