Keeping Your Cool

165CLB_05_042017It can be challenging to keep your temper in check when all you want to do is throw anything within arms-reach. While your three-year-old self may want to have a hissy fit, your adult self has to try to maintain composure. It can be tough, but these tips can help you keep your cool:

  • Take deep breaths. Breathe slowly and evenly. Inhale for four to six counts, and exhale for four to six counts. At the end of your third breath, check in with yourself to see how you feel. If you still don't feel calm, take another three deep breaths while saying positive words or phrases, such as "calm," "relax," or "it's OK."
  • Take a break. If you can, walk away from the situation. Removing yourself from whatever's making you angry gives you a chance to regain your composure, think clearly, and consider the other side of the situation.
  • Be a problem-solver. If your anger is stemming from a particular situation, think of ways to solve a problem rather than being angry about an outcome. If you don't like a new policy, look at it from different angles to find a way to make it work for you.
  • Take responsibility for your actions. When you feel yourself losing control, take your deep breaths, and when you've calmed down, acknowledge how your behavior may have contributed to the situation. This will help put others at ease so that you can deal with the situation with a cool head.
  • Sweat it out. While deep breathing and talking through things is great, some people need a more physical outlet to cool down. Try slipping on a pair of sneakers and going for a walk or a jog instead. Hang up a punching bag, and let your fists fly. Take up tennis. These physical releases will be great for your anger management and your physical health. It's a win-win.
  • Write it down-and then destroy it. Writing in general can be therapeutic, and if that works and helps calm you, that's great. Sometimes though, you may need a little bit more. Write out the cause of your anger on a piece of paper, and when you're finished, rip it up. This can be both satisfying and calming.
  • Find the humor in the situation. Sometimes, the circumstances that make us angry are just absurd or scare us. Especially in these situations, try to find the humor in the moment. While the situation may be serious, that doesn't mean you can't laugh away the stress or tension. So go on and laugh, relax, and regroup.
  • Avoid the blame game. Trying to decide who is at fault when something goes wrong isn't productive. In fact, focusing on blame distracts you and others from potential solutions. This can also put others in a defensive position, making it more likely for the situation to escalate rather than improve.
  • Listen without interrupting. No one likes to be interrupted, and it can quickly make a conflict go from bad to worse. As you listen, take the opportunity to take a few deep breaths, and really consider where the other person is coming from. This may also help you identify miscommunications that led to the problem to begin with.
  • Embrace your support system. Find a friend or family member-someone you trust-and let it all out. This person should be someone who understands that you don't mean everything you say when you're angry and won't use your words against you later.
Sources: WebMD, Mayo Clinic

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Last updated 4/25/2017