Anger has a fast, hot, destructive quality, and those that struggle with it know all too well the remorse and shame that result when they have let it get the better of them. The trick with anger is to slow it down.

One of the best ways to do this is to become aware of your body's signals that tell you you’re getting angry. Ask yourself:

How does my body feel when I’m upset?

Maybe you get hot, clench your jaw, or start breathing faster. Your body’s cues will often let you know you’re angry before you consciously become aware of the fact. When you start to become aware, try to excuse yourself from the situation. If you’re with someone, tell them:

I need to take a time out.

Let them know when you’ll be back (you don’t want them to feel abandoned), and if that’s not possible, just leave. If this seems dramatic, imagine the alternative. It's often far more destructive.

Engaging in a short burst of physical activity is often enough to discharge excess energy. Alternatively, you can try some soothing activities: deep breathing, clenching your fists and relaxing them, taking a bath. You want to move the body from fight-or-flight to a place where you can think more clearly.

Albert Einstein said, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” So, change your consciousness!

Practice these skills when you’re calm, so that they’re second nature when you really need them. No emotion lasts forever: give anger a chance to unwind, and it will. Rather than picking up the pieces of a harmed relationship, knowing our own anger signals can help us celebrate the victory of successful communication.

How does your body let you know that you're angry?

About the Author

deirdre mclaughlin (she/they/we) is a counsellor, sex educator, and phd student in clinical sexology. they live and work within the ancestral, traditional, and unceded territories of the tmixʷ (Syilx Okanagan), snʕickstx tmxʷúlaʔxʷ (Sinixt), and ɁamakɁis (Ktunaxa) peoples, as well as many other diverse Indigenous persons, including the Métis.

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