Here’s how to harness your rage – and maybe even make it work to your advantage.
1. You are risking your health
Life’s annoyances can affect your wellbeing if they go unaddressed. Studies have found that people who rate high on tests for anger are at an increased risk for high blood pressure and heart disease. (If you are struggling, try these 17 steps to get high blood pressure under control.)
2. Why so angry?
To process anger in a healthy way, Todd Kashdan, a psychology professor at George Mason University in Virginia, recommends that you attempt to understand why you feel upset. Without pinpointing why you’re angry, he says, “you can’t get a foothold to figure out what your body is mobilising to do.”
3. Anger as motivator
When harnessed properly, anger can be a motivator. Frustration can drive us to choose a novel path while problem solving, or to become focused and committed – taking up a new political cause, for example.
Frustration may also be useful in negotiations. Anger can signal that you are done conceding, says Russell Cropanzano, a professor of management and entrepreneurship at the University of Colorado’s Leeds School of Business. But watch how you express it – raising your voice during a debate may be helpful, but the same tactic could potentially undermine collaborative work. Try these 13 negotiating tips to help you get the best outcome.
If you use anger as a tool too often, people will learn to avoid you. While others may offer small amounts of time and effort to keep your temper from erupting, you’ll miss out on their best contributions.
7. Make anger the last step
If you get into a disagreement with someone, pause for a moment and try to understand that person’s point of view, then look for a mutually beneficial solution. “Once you become angry,” Cropanzano points out, “your thinking gets too narrow.”
8. Deep breaths
To bring anger down a notch or two, the American Psychological Association recommends practising deep breathing. Focus on inhaling and exhaling, and picture your breath travelling to your diaphragm. But whatever you do, don’t be tempted to punch a pillow.
9. Music soothes
Create a playlist of your favourite music to help you relax in difficult situations. Kashdan says different genres work for different people. He suggests listening when you feel agitated in order to curb anger. Here are some more ideas that may help you to relax.
10. Up your game
Keep disagreements from turning into fights by improving your communication skills. Avoid cutting others off or using accusatory adverbs such as ‘always’ and ‘never’.