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Be Less Furious: 7 Smart Tips to a Calmer You

Be Less Furious: 7 Smart Tips to a Calmer You

Anger can do a number on you mentally and physically. Here’s how to get a handle on it.

Whether you’re irritated by inconveniences or fly into a fury at the slightest provocation, we can all benefit from learning to cope effectively with anger. Not only can rage and resentment increase stress and damage relationships, but it may also raise your heart rate, blood pressure and even cholesterol levels. 

Figuring out how to deal with anger is an important factor in living a healthier life. Try these steps next time you are having a difficult time controlling your temper.

Find out what makes you angry
It’s important to figure out what factors tend to trigger our anger, so we can better address the problem. While you might not be able to change all of the frustrating parts of your life, you can change how you approach the situation. 

For example, if your city-dweller commute is leaving you stressed, try listening to calming music or reading a book. Alternatively, try a different method of transportation if your current one leaves you burnt out, or make small tweaks to your route. That might involve hopping off the train or bus one stop early and using the extra steps to energize before walking into the office.

Try meditation
It’s not just for ashrams and yogis. Meditation can be an easy, everyday way to bring a sense of calm back into your life. One small 2016 study in the journal Consciousness and Cognition found that a single meditation session reduced anger in participants who were new to the practice. If you don’t have the time for a daily session or find yourself in the midst of a stressful situation, simply close your eyes and take a few deep breaths to calm down.

Communicate more effectively
If your anger stems from interactions with a friend, colleague or loved one, the best way to deal with it could be through open communication. Talking through your problems, instead of letting them fester inside of you, often leads to a solution that will leave both parties a lot happier. 

Remember, though, that a crucial aspect of problem solving is listening. Keep an open mind when discussing your issues with others, as they may have solutions you have not even considered.

Exercise
When you’re feeling furious, get up and move around. Increasing your endorphins through exercise has been shown to help combat anger, and many studies have linked working out to feeling calmer. While vigorous activities like running, cycling or group fitness classes can be effective rage relievers, even low-impact pastimes such as gardening and walking are beneficial. 

Bonus: Establishing and sticking to a fitness routine can boost both your physical and mental health overall. 

Speak to someone
If you are having a hard time controlling your frustration or if your anger comes out in violent bursts, there is a lot of benefit in seeking out a psychologist or an anger management program. Getting help from experts can be the best step toward managing your outbursts and living a happier life. 

Speak with your healthcare provider or a trusted friend for a recommendation or reach out to a professional organization like the American Psychological Association for referrals.

Think positively
Unfortunately, the situations that anger us are often more memorable than the many little instances that make our lives happier. When you’re stressed, rather than fixate on the things that are ticking you off, think of all of the good stuff in your life—whether it’s family, friends, work, personal successes or just small things that you appreciate. 

Of course, this is not to say that your anger is not valid or that you should suppress those feelings without addressing their source. In fact, confronting your negative emotions can help you deal with them. One 2010 study in the journal Behavior Research and Therapy, for example, found that participants who acknowledged their unpleasant feelings were better at adjusting to negative experiences.

Let it go
There will always be some frustrating aspects of our lives that we can’t change. There are also sources of anger that we feel we’ve dealt with, but we keep going over in our minds. 

In both cases, it’s better to stop dwelling on it. Let the past go and move on toward a more contented future. You may find yourself less angry—and a little happier—overall.

Medically reviewed in February 2018. Updated in February 2020.

Sources:
American Psychological Association. “Strategies for controlling your anger,” “How to recognize and deal with anger.”
AB Fennell, EM Benau, et al. “A single session of meditation reduces of physiological indices of anger in both experienced and novice meditators.” Consciousness and Cognition. 2016 Feb; 40:54-66.
J Tkacz, D Hyman-Young, et al. “Aerobic exercise program reduces anger expression among overweight children.” Pediatric Exercise Science. vol. 20,4 (2008): 390-401.
J Hunsberger, S Newton, et al. “Antidepressant actions of the exercise-regulated gene VGF.” Nature Medicine. 13, 1476–1482 (2007).
M Kanning, W Schlicht. “Be active and become happy: an ecological momentary assessment of physical activity and mood.” Journal of Sports and Exercise Psychology. 2010 Apr;32(2):253-61.
KG Coifman, JJ Flynn, et al. “When context matters: Negative emotions predict psychological health and adjustment.” Motivation and Emotion. 40, 602–624 (2016).
AJ Shallcross, A Troy, et al. “Let it be: Accepting negative emotional experiences predicts decreased negative affect and depressive symptoms.” Behaviour Research and Therapy. vol. 48,9 (2010): 921-9. 
Noam Shpancer. “Emotional Acceptance: Why Feeling Bad is Good.” Psychology Today. September 8, 2010.

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