Temper-taming tips

Last modified: Thursday, May 22, 2014

∎ Think before you speak. In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to say something you’ll later regret. Take a few moments to collect your thoughts before saying anything - and allow others involved in the situation to do the same.

Once you’re calm, express your anger. As soon as you’re thinking clearly, express your frustration in an assertive but nonconfrontational way. State your concerns and needs clearly and directly, without hurting others or trying to control them.

∎ Exercise. Physical activity can help reduce stress that can cause you to become angry. If you feel anger escalating, go for a brisk walk or run, or spend some time doing other enjoyable physical activities.

∎ Take a timeout. Give yourself short breaks during the day that tend to be stressful. A few moments of quiet time might help you feel better prepared to better handle what’s ahead.

∎ Identify possible solutions. Instead of focusing on what made you mad, work on resolving the issue at hand. Is your partner late for dinner every night? Schedule meals later in the evening — or agree to eat on your own a few times a week. Remind yourself that anger won’t fix anything and might only make it worse.

∎ Stick with ‘I’ statements. To avoid criticizing or placing blame — which might only increase tension — use “I” statements to describe the problem. Be respectful and specific. For example, say, “I’m upset that you left the table without offering to help with the dishes,” instead of, “You never do any housework.”

∎ Don’t hold a grudge. Forgiveness is a powerful tool. If you allow anger and other negative feelings to crowd out positive feelings, you might find yourself swallowed up by bitterness or a sense of injustice. But if you can forgive someone who angered you, you might both learn from the situation.

∎ Use humor to release tension. Lightening up can help defuse tension. Use humor to help you face what’s making you angry and, possibly, any unrealistic expectations. Avoid sarcasm, though — it can hurt feelings and make things worse.

∎ Practice relaxation skills. When your temper flares, put relaxation skills to work. Practice deep-breathing exercises, imagine a relaxing scene or repeat a calming phrase, such as, “Take it easy.” You might also listen to music or write in a journal - whatever it takes to encourage relaxation.

∎ Know when to seek help. Learning to control anger can be a challenge for everyone. Consider seeking help for anger issues if your anger seems out of control, causes you to do things you regret or hurts those around you.

Source: The Mayo Clinic


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