We’ve all been in a situation that left us simmering in anger, whether it was someone cutting you off on your commute to work or getting passed over for a promotion at work. Anger is an emotional response to a “real or imagined threat or provocation” and not dealing with it properly can lead to health issues like cardiovascular disease. But what’s the best way to deal with that fiery feeling? Whether it’s mild irritation or blind rage, experts say turning down the heat on the anger is the best approach.
Some coping mechanisms are more helpful than others and these are the most effective strategies:
- Do take a deep breath -Anger triggers your fight-or-flight response, which causes a physical reaction. Your heart rate and blood pressure increases and muscles tense up, and taking deep breaths and counting to 10 can really help the body relax.
- Don't vent to others -Lots of us vent to blow off steam, butBrad Bushman, professor of communications at The Ohio State University, explains this doesn’t help that physical reaction and venting can actually “feed the flame instead of dialing it down.”
- Do problem-solve-Ryan Martin, associate dean and professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, advises trying to channel the energy that surges when you’re angry into solving the problem that’s making you angry.
- Don't get physical -The worst thing you can do to handle anger? Blowing off steam by breaking things, boxing and other physical ways. He explains that this response is linked to long-term problems with anger control because it can reinforce the behavior, so when you get angry in the future, you’re more likely to get physical again. Even exercise, like running, is a bad idea because it gets your heart pumping and keeps your heart rate elevated, which is the opposite of what you want when you’re trying to control anger.
- Don't suppress your anger- Ignoring your anger won’t make it go away and can actually increase its intensity in the long-run, according toDavid H. Rosmarin, assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. As tough as it might be, it’s better to deal with what’s upsetting you in the first place.