The tried-and-true approach to anger management has long been relaxation (in various forms): deep breathing, muscle relaxation, meditation, etc. These things work when it comes to decreasing unwanted anger, but what should we do when the problem isn’t unwanted anger? What should we do when we are right to be mad, but just want to make sure we voice that anger in the best way?
Here are three ways you can manage your anger that don’t involve relaxation.
1. Distance yourself from the angering situation. One of the challenges of anger is that people find themselves thinking (what we call ruminating) about events that anger them for long periods of time. This sort of rumination ends up fueling the fire in ways that are not often productive. Instead, try and distance yourself from the situation. Look at your anger from an outsider’s perspective to try and gauge the reasonableness of your angry response. This mental exercise will help reduce your anger and decrease negative thoughts while giving you a more clear path forward.
2. Problem solve. One of the reasons anger exists is to alert us to problems in our lives. When you have recurring problems that lead to anger (e.g., a coworker who is often late, faulty technology that slows you down), focus on solving the problem. Dedicating a little bit of time to addressing this underlying cause will keep the problem from recurring and frustrating you day in and day out.
3. Express your anger in a nonaggressive way. The most challenging part of managing anger is expressing it productively. Aggressive expressions often lead to negative consequences and holding it in too often isn’t good for us either. Instead, try to express your anger assertively and nonaggressively. Take a moment to wait until you are thinking more clearly and voice that anger to the source without character attacks. Be clear about your feelings while also working toward productive and reasonable solutions.