Are you struggling to know how to control your anger? Have angry outbursts become the norm in your life? When you find yourself becoming frustrated, do you end up lashing out at those around you?
Although everyone experiences anger in some form, habitual anger can quickly wreak havoc on relationships. After an explosive episode, you are left trying to repair relationships that lay in ruins.
This article will outline some practical tips and techniques for how to control your anger.
How to Control Your Anger: Must-have techniques
Take a timeout
Many people think timeouts can only be used on children, but a timeout can be used effectively on people of all ages when there needs to be a period to cool off. It’s reported that people with major anger problems have rage that surges to full strength in seconds.
Once a person operates at a certain level of anger, logical thought processes are shut down. A timeout is the best way to prevent damaging words or reckless actions from occurring. Removing yourself from the person or situation that’s triggering your anger can restore rational thinking.
What to do during a timeout
Of course, just sitting in timeout brooding over your anger, isn’t a healthy strategy. Instead, try some of these techniques during your timeout to make it constructive.
- Don’t speak before you think
“Life and death are in the tongue.” (Proverbs 18:21). Our words can be used as weapons to destroy others, whether intentional or not. Take the time to reflect on what you can say that is kind and God-honoring. Writing it down can help you stick to your words instead of getting swept away in emotions again.
Become a solution seeker. Instead of attacking a person, come together to attack the problem by providing a solution. Regardless of the situation, come up with ways to solve the problem.
Getting some fresh air often works wonders for our mental health and ushers in a new wave of clarity. No matter where you find yourself walking, it will help you think deeply, dissecting problems and understanding them from different angles. As an added bonus, walking is known to produce mood-improving endorphins in the brain, helping to reduce blood pressure and lower any anxiety you may be experiencing.
- Let music soothe the savage beast
Let the lyrics of a song wash over you. Maybe you prefer to listen to waves crashing into the shore on the beach, the sounds of birds chirping in the breeze or beautiful notes being played on the piano. Lie down, close your eyes, focus on your breathing and meditate on Christ.
Sometimes stress seems to simply disappear down the drain in the shower. Taking a bath or a shower is another opportunity to think about your actions and words while reducing stress.
Know the signs
You must know yourself, being able to recognize the signs that you’re about to explode. If you can’t, you may never be able to gain control over yourself because it will be too late. Keep a sharp eye on anything you see regarding how you think or feel before losing your temper and write it down (whether at the moment or later is irrelevant). Put the information to use in order to avoid future incidents.
Here are a few common signs:
- Obsessing about the problem
- Mind goes blank
- Feel like hitting, throwing, or breaking things
- Hurling insults
- Stomach ache
- Heavy breathing
- Increased heart rate
- Cheeks turn red
- Sweating or feeling hot
- Clenched fists
- Jaw clenching or teeth grinding
Get the blood flowing with a form of physical activity! It’s a proven method that helps release emotions and discharge anger-induced energy. Throwing a few punches at a punching bag, lifting weights at the gym, running around the neighborhood, or doing yard work are just a few activities out there. Find what works for you, and get moving. You’ll see your anger dissipate over time.
Now, we don’t want to avoid resolving conflict, but finding something to take your mind off the situation can be a wise way to recover emotionally. You can clean the house, work on a home improvement project, watch TV, or dedicate time to a hobby that takes your mind off the current situation.
Practice relaxation techniques
Proven anger management methods include:
Inhale slowly through the nostrils for a five-count, then exhale through the mouth for a seven-count. Repeat until relaxed. You will begin to feel the tension being released from your body. Focus on the process of breathing and counting, which will make it difficult to fill your mind with anything else about during the exercise.
If you can’t focus on your breathing, lie on the floor and place an object on your stomach. As you breathe, focus your attention on the object’s movement.
This exercise involves gradually and systematically tensing and relaxing certain areas of the body until full relaxation is reached. Again, the focus is on the sensations of the actions and imagining tension leaving the body until completely relaxed.
Yoga or stretching combines physical activity and deep breathing. There are many resources available for learning yoga poses or stretching exercises useful for relieving mental stress.
Imagery and thought-stopping
Have you ever heard someone say, “Find your happy place.” There’s some truth to this saying. This technique can be useful when you are besieged by angry thoughts. You can take these thoughts captive as scripture encourages us to do and replace with a particular verse to combat your anger.
In your imagination you can visit a favorite place, maybe it’s a particularly happy memory or a place that brings you joy like walking in the mountains or laying out at the beach. Stay focused on this image or verse until you regain self-control.
Writing is a wonderful way to get your thoughts out of your head without harming anybody. Taking the time to journal your emotions and actions can help put situations into perspective and give the chance to calm down.
Instead of exploding at others or keeping everything bottled up, writing provides an alternative outlet for your thoughts. Once you can see everything on paper, you have the power to steer the thoughts that trigger emotions in a more beneficial, constructive direction.
Here’s the recommended three-step method of journaling. First, acknowledge your angry thoughts and feelings. God knows your heart and there’s no point in hiding anything from Him. See if there is a root to your emotions. If you are angry, where does that anger stem from? Fear of abandonment? Loss of control?
Second look up, write down, and meditate on various Scriptures, particularly those that are related to anger. And third, express your gratitude. Make a list of what you are grateful for in life. Getting rooted in the truth and counting your blessings often produces a shift in perspective.
Find the root of your anger
There’s more to anger than meets the eye. As mentioned earlier, it’s important to think about where your anger is coming from and understanding what’s below the surface. It’s crucial to find the source of the anger and why you have trouble managing it.
Take an honest moral inventory of yourself
Taking one’s inventory is borrowed from Celebrate Recovery 12-step program. When you take an inventory, essentially you are reflecting on your life and making a list of people you have harmed, and seeking to be forgiven and making amends where it’s safe and possible to do so. The purpose of the inventory is to give you a clean slate and purge yourself of anything that might be interfering with your relationship with God and others.
Practice effective listening
Don’t just listen to others to support your angry thoughts. Learn to listen to understand the full picture. People with anger issues often only hear what they want to hear and ignore everything else that’s being said.
It’s hard to tear someone to pieces with your words if you practice empathy. Try to see the other person’s point of view and contemplate how she might feel. This could change the direction of your dialogue.
Tune your ears to hear key pieces of information that you may be ignoring, such as the positives. This may help you see the situation more accurately.
Do you even take the time to understand the other person’s perspective? Most people only want to be heard and not talked over or spoken to in a derogatory way. Seek to understand someone’s point of view, even if you don’t agree with it.
Look for the humor
Comic relief can be a refuge when tempers rise. Finding a way to laugh at your own anger can break the ice and allow time for everybody to collect their thoughts and cool off.
Many people are angry because they are too passive to ask for what they want and need, so they are frustrated and persistently unfulfilled. You may need help from a counselor to learn techniques for communicating clearly and assertively instead of defaulting to aggressive communication. You teach people how to treat you.
Practice good self-care
Often people neglect self-care when success in life hinges on it. Pay attention to the following self-care practices to keep anger from rising.
- Get adequate sleep
- Focus on nutrition
- Nurture relationships and be social
- Exercise regularly
- Rest and relax
- Do things you are passionate about
- Grow your intimacy with God
Effective anger management requires regular self-assessment to ensure your thoughts and actions are in alignment with your values and the person you desire to be.
Seek God and His Word
Sometimes all the anger management tools in the world can only get us so far. The power of God and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit can unlock more revelation and healing than any manmade strategies.
Ask God to unlock the mystery of your anger to you, and show you the path to true deliverance. Read your Bible with an eye for specific revelation and hold fast to what it says. God wants to speak to you about anything that concerns you.
Anger is a God-given emotion that signals something is wrong and isn’t designed for destruction. We are instructed by God not to allow anger to cause us to sin.
If you’re struggling to know how to control your anger or anger is dominating your life in unhealthy ways, reach out to a Christian counselor for help. The support and tools you need are only a phone call away. Your anger doesn’t have to control you. You are more than a conqueror in Christ Jesus.
“Man in Black Jacket”, Courtesy of Lisa Fotios, Pexels.com; CC0 License; “The Ultimate Athlete”, Courtesy of Autumn Goodman, Unsplash.com; CC0 License; “Sticky Brook Yoga,” courtesy of Matthew Ragan, Flickr Creative Commons; “Picnic”, Courtesy of Pedro Ribeiro Simões, Flickr.com, CC BY 2.0 License