When you’re quick-tempered, it might be hard to believe that most people can relate. But anger gets the best of us (of all of us), and it brings out the worst in us.
One minute you’re calm and in control; the next, you’re yelling or throwing something into a wall. When everything feels like it’s spinning out of control, it’s like, why not get on board and release our inner cyclone too?
Then again, it’s not as if you have any kind of thought process each time you’ve been quick to anger. Because if you did, you might be able to slow things down long enough to have a not-so-quick temper.
That is, finding more awareness of your anger can create some space in between a trigger and an outburst. It can create time to consider the consequences of your reactivity, where the aftermath is always messy for ourselves and those around us.
So as you read through the following five tips, keep in mind that they aren’t only useful for the moments when you feel your temper rising. Managing a short temper starts and continues with awareness, so consider incorporating these into a consistent, conscious practice.
Becoming more conscious of your short temper and its impact can mean the difference between an impulsive episode of anger and a healthy release of it. Regular mindfulness practice can help you better recognize and understand your triggers and symptoms to put yourself back in control.
Here’s an exercise you can practice:
-Take a seat in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Place one hand on your chest and one on your stomach.
-Start by focusing on your breath and begin to count each inhale and exhale. Slowly inhale through your nose, hold your breath for a moment, then release the air slowly through your mouth.
-After you’ve settled into a rhythm, start to pay attention to any thoughts or emotions that arise without judgment.
-Allow yourself to feel whatever is coming up – anger, frustration, impatience – but don’t act on it.
If you’re having trouble with the thought or non-judgment aspect of this, that’s okay. Deep breathing alone is one of the quickest and most effective ways to calm down when you’re feeling angry. It helps slow your heart rate and ease tension in your body. So start with the breath, and the mindfulness benefits will eventually follow.
Take a timeout.
If mindfulness doesn’t work for you or your anger is already out of control, try taking some time out instead. For instance, if you feel frustrated by a customer’s email, get up and go outside. Walk around as long as it takes to calm down and find some perspective. This is another good opportunity to focus on your breath.
Channel your anger.
Sometimes the best way to release anger is to let it all out. But you don’t have to direct your anger at someone else (or yourself) to do so.
There are many productive ways to release anger healthily, like going for a run or hitting the gym. Regular physical activity can help dissipate the energy that often comes with tempers and can help you feel almost immediately calmer and more at peace.
Once you become more of situations that are likely to raise your temper, develop ways to manage them.
If you know that you’re going to be in a tense or high-stress environment, like a family gathering or work meeting, have a plan in place for how you’ll deal with it. That way, you won’t feel as though you’re caught off guard when you’re more likely to react impulsively.
This also applies to everyday things that tend to trigger your temper, like traffic. You might not be able to control who’s on the road, but you can choose to wake up and leave earlier – or take a different route.
Fill out a “Circles of Control” diagram.
When you start to feel heated – or even before that moment while aggravating or stressful thoughts are likely forming snowballs in your mind – fill out a target diagram called “circles of control.”
-In the outermost circle, write what you cannot control.
-In the middle circle, write down what you can influence.
-In the smallest inner circle, write what you can control.
Apart from bringing your thoughts onto paper which is helpful in and of itself, this activity can help you find both perspective and power – first, by seeing that there is little in life that you can control. Then, by seeing that with what you can control, you can control entirely.
Sometimes, a short temper and increased irritability are a sign of depression or anxiety. Reach out to our team today for support and a proper diagnosis.
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