In the middle of a fight, have you ever asked yourself how to deal with anger? Everyone has experienced feelings of blind, red hot rage at an injustice or aggression aimed at them at some point in their lives. If you haven’t gotten angry, you aren’t human. Everyone gets angry, and that’s OK. For the most part, anger is a normal, healthy emotion. But it’s unhealthy when it flares up all the time or spirals out of control.

Uncontrolled anger can take a toll on both your health and your relationships. That’s why knowing how to deal with anger is key.

How to Deal with Anger

Seeing red? Here are seven ways you can learn to manage your anger issues:

1. Breathe

When you’re angry beyond belief, there’s nothing more you can do than just breathe and take back control of your body. Slowly breathe in and out. Simple as that.

2. Count

It may sound silly, but slowly counting to 10 is a great way to immediately relieve some built up tension. Why? Because it focuses your mind on the specific task of taking care of yourself first. Anger causes your blood pressure and heart rate to rise so counting to whatever number is appropriate for you will give your body a chance to cool off and slow down your breathing so you can get some time to think before saying or doing something you might regret.

3. Keep a journal or log about your anger

Dealing with anger is much easier when you know what you’re angry about. Sometimes people may feel generally irritable because of stresssleep deprivation or other factors; more often, there’s a specific reason for the anger. Either way, you can become more aware of what’s behind your anger if you keep an anger journal.

Record the feelings you experienced, what factors contributed to your anger and how you responded to it. Try to write down the thoughts that were going through your mind and the time, and then reflect on these instances and see if there’s any sort of pattern to your anger.

4. Visualize peace

Imagine your breath as a wave, a surge of color blowing in the wind. Watch it come in and out; each breath will become deeper and quieter as you visualize your anger floating away. Hear yourself speaking calmly and softly to yourself and to others. Your anger reflex should diminish another degree each time you do this imaging.

5. Embrace confrontation

Someone ticked you off? Tell the person ― in a healthy, positive, constructive way. Yes, he or she might be surprised, possibly even angered, by your words. But you know what? He or she will get over it and appreciate your respectful communication approach.

6. Exercise

The hormones that we release when we are angry — mainly cortisol and adrenaline — are similar to those produced when we are stressed to help us to escape from danger. When you exercise regularly, your body learns how to regulate your adrenaline and cortisol levels more effectively. Also, people who are physically fit have more optimum levels of endorphins; endorphins are hormones that make you feel good and therefore less likely to feel angry.

7. Take some time

When you’re angry, look at your watch. Let the second hand sweep across the dial at least two minutes before you take any action. By then, you’ll have had time to think and can act in a more appropriate way. Plus, it’s kind of Zen to watch time move.

Know the Warning Signs

Managing your anger effectively means recognizing the warning signs. If you’re able to identify when you’re starting to get angry, you’ll be better prepared to stop yourself from getting really worked up and lashing out, or being around when someone else does. Some warning signs are:

  • Heart starts pounding
  • Breathing becomes faster and shallower
  • Suddenly feeling hot or chilled
  • Face feels flushed
  • Head or neck pain
  • Stomach distress
  • Grinding teeth
  • Pacing or fidgeting
  • Muscle tension in arms, back, neck, or shoulders
  • Clenching jaw and/or fists

You Don’t Have to Deal With Anger Alone

Remember — we’re all human and sometimes we let anger get the better of us. But just because you allow yourself to be angry doesn’t mean you also have to let anger rule your interactions with others, or spiral out of control.

Anger management counseling is one of the best ways to learn to control your anger issues. The purpose of anger management is to help you decrease your anger. It reduces the emotional and physical arousal that anger can cause. It is generally impossible to avoid all people and settings that incite anger, but you can learn to control reactions and respond in a socially appropriate manner. The support of a mental health professional may be helpful in this process.

Originally published on Talkspace.

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