Even the calmest seeming people are all prone to an outburst or two once in awhile. Let's face it. Relationship issues -- be it with family, roommates, or significant others -- are a huge cause of stress. Problems often arise when each party is not expressing themselves clearly. But when does this go beyond our ability to problem-solve? Most of the time, anger management can be tempered without the need of expensive and circuitous therapists. Follow these strategies to build healthier anger management strategies!
1. Invest in a stress ball.
It's a small price to pay for a huge benefit. Stress balls help to increase blood circulation and activate the muscles in our wrists and arms to promote relaxation. It's important when in a conflict to take control of our involuntary stress response so that we don't let our emotions take over our rationality.
2. Punch it out.
Physical activity is a great way to reduce the anger response. No, we don't mean punch your opponent in the face. But try a pillow instead. Punching bags not only increase strength training for athletes, but also release endorphins. Endorphins feel great running through your body after physical labor.
3. Take a breather.
Oxygen is our most fundamental need as human beings. Breathing techniques can be the antidote to almost any problem. It helps you to get clear headed and ready to talk out any dilemma.
4. Go Green.
Studies show that changing your environment can be a great way to reduce anger. Try a walk outside. If the weather's not permitting, even looking at a photo of a tree, landscape, or flower will help you to feel calm. A short walk in a natural environment can even reduce depression!
5. Move your body.
If you're feeling really angry, you probably have a lot of potential energy surging inside of you. Put that energy to good use! Do some jumping jacks, take a few laps, or just flail around like a monkey. Managing anger is all about filtering your energy into good use.
6. Be active, not reactive.
One of the greatest problems we face when confronted with an anger-inducing situation is that we're reactive. Reactivity is the anger we can't control. Breathing exercises can help distance us from a situation in order to make us better able to evaluate possible solutions.
7. Write it down.
Sometimes the easiest way to parse through our thoughts is to write them down. While you don't have to take up journaling as a full time job, make charts, lists, or illustrations -- whatever you have to do to get a clear idea of both sides of the argument and where you stand.
8. Take a time out.
Think back to square one. A good old-fashioned time out worked on us when we were kids, so why not now? Removing ourselves from a situation is an effective way of giving ourselves the time to reflect on our actions and decisions before we make them.
9. Talk it out with an unbiased party.
If you're having trouble clearing your mind, it may help to unload on a friend. Keep the argument in hypotheticals if you're afraid about disclosing any sensitive information. Your friend will appreciate you for reaching out and will most likely be full of supportive advice.
10. Understand the other side.
No matter how much you disagree with the person you're arguing with, he or she most likely has a valid point of view. It's important to recognize what another person thinks and feels, and to view the situation from his or her perspective. It's like the old cliche to spend a day in someone's shoes.
11. Speak clearly and calmly.
No need for yelling! Arguments can be just as effective, or even more, when both parties use a calm, respectful tone of voice. The loudest voice isn't always the best. In parenting guides, we're told that raising our voices makes a an already hostile environment even more hostile. It sometimes neglects to get the message across.
12. Think before you speak.
All of that time away from the situation will give you ample time to think up your points before you confront the other side. If it helps, think of the argument as an academic or political debate. You must maintain decorum and a set of standards that ensures that all parties are equally heard.
13. Use "I" Statements.
Too often, arguments blow up because of incorrect assumptions. Instead, use "I" statements. What this means is, instead of saying, "You are a horrible person," say, "I was offended by what you said." And be specific. This will ensure that you are speaking for yourself and nobody else.
14. Don't play the blame game.
When it comes to an argument, who's to blame is not the point. It's all about finding a solution to a disagreement. Focusing on how the argument started diverts from your end goal.
15. Actions speak louder.
Apologies are only valid if they are supported by modified behavior. This means that we shouldn't say anything that we don't truly mean. If you are hesitant, don't be afraid to take more time. Not all arguments are solved in one sitting. Let your other party know that you care about making things right again, and are willing to put in the time and effort.
So now that you're equipped with these anger management skills, you'll be happy to know that you can most likely skip the therapist. If problems continue to persist, you may wish to seek help elsewhere. But for the most part, the power to negotiate problems is imbedded within us. We have the power to grow our bonds and get through any conflict with our heads held high!