Anger is a response from the more primitive sections of the brain. It prompts you to take aggressive actions for the sake of survival, writes Susan Heitler, who holds a doctorate of clinical psychology, in her Psychology Today article, "Anger is a Stop Sign." While this is certainly a useful reaction in specific situations, undue anger can have social consequences that leave you feeling isolated and those you love feeling hurt. Rather than continue to jeopardize your relationships with friends and family, adopt several strategies to manage your temper.
Practice Good Daily Habits
Poor lifestyle habits leave you more susceptible to emotional overreactions, says Julie Hanks, licensed clinical social worker, in her PsychCentral article, "How to Stop Overreacting." When you skip out on hours of sleep or forget to stay hydrated, you put your body and mind under extra stress, increasing moodiness. For example, if you got little sleep the night before, you might seem snappish or standoffish around your friends. Remember to take care of your body's basic needs and find responsible ways to relax during downtime. You can even bring your friends or family members along on these relaxing outings. For example, schedule a daily walk with your girlfriend before dinner.
Try to pick up on patterns in your emotional reactions, Hanks suggests. Perhaps you get snappy when someone criticizes your driving. Examine the potential reasons behind these triggers. Past incidents and insecurities are likely behind your outbursts. Avoid people who tend to trigger your anger, or at least be on guard when these people are nearby. Aim to reduce insecurities by taking action. You might practice your driving, for example. But be aware that some people are overly critical due to their own insecurities.
Respond with Humor
When used correctly, humor can help you step away from your anger, suggests the American Psychological Association in the article "Controlling Anger Before It Controls You." For example, if someone unfairly insults your cooking, rather than becoming defensive, respond with a joke like, "Well, it's true I'm no Paula Deen." By replacing knee-jerk, angry responses with silly retorts, you can diffuse your anger and gracefully accept shortcomings. Appropriate forms of humor can also diffuse anger in others -- which is useful in heated arguments with those you love. In tense situations, avoid sarcasm and opt for mild self-deprecating humor.
Explore Relaxation Exercises
Solve the problem on a physiological level with relaxation exercises, the American Psychological Association suggests. Breathing exercises, which encourage you to breathe from your abdomen rather than your chest, can help lower your heart rate and regain emotional control. Combine this exercise with a calming mantra or peaceful mental imagery. If someone's criticisms or insensitive jokes get under your skin, ask to be excused and practice a few calming breaths. Later, when you are feeling under control, express your feelings to that person in private.
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