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Count to Ten: A guide to controlling anger

Count to Ten: A guide to controlling anger

Venting about your annoyances is natural, but research suggests it is counterintuitive. Here are some alternatives
A woman taking in a deep breath
Representational image | iStock

Who has not felt that ugly red devil called anger? For some of us, the beast wells up inside every day, perhaps growling through the day. While a few people express their daily annoyances with violent outbursts, there are others who are unphased by irritants — or at least hide their anger.

How do they do it, and why is it important to control anger? Here is our guide to invoking your inner Buddha.

Anger has been known to break relationships, cost jobs and even cause terrible mishaps. But surprisingly, it also has a positive side. It can help bring about a positive change in society. Anger over a social injustice can help rid society of them.

But when anger gets out of control, it can negatively affect not just on you but your dear ones as well. Anger manifests in different ways. If you feel this emotion frequently and intensely, you would have noticed faster heartbeats and breathing, and even tensing of the muscles.

You might have heard people say that venting your ire over something or someone can be good, but is it actually?

A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology said that venting does not dissipate anger, but instead worsens the feeling. Another research published in the 2019 Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma reiterated that harmless forms of venting have been shown to grow into aggressive behavioural patterns later.

The American Psychological Association notes that anger eventually leads to stress, negative emotions and irritable moods, impaired personal relations, sleep deprivation, headaches, digestive problems and even heart diseases.

Now that you have read a bit about what anger can do, here are five ways to quell the raging bull:

Find your trigger

The first step towards anger management is accepting that there is an issue and doing so amounts to winning half the battle. Find out what triggers your anger – the buttons could range from facing abuse, to injustices meted out towards others. Some might go berserk at the sight of bad traffic, long queues or even when they are hungry or exhausted.

“The first relationship you need to master is with yourself. When you truly understand what triggers you, then your emotional outbursts and meltdowns can be controlled,” says Sushmita Roy, senior counsellor and psychotherapist, Medall Mind.

Talk about it

Most of us have that one person with whom we are comfortable discussing anything under the sun. Talking to them about an annoying episode at home or at the office, or about the man who jumped the traffic signal in front of you, can help to an extent. You need to channelise this in a positive way so that it leads to a positive outcome or solution to the problem. You can also move away from problem by discussing interesting and neutral topics.

Have happy thoughts

Your thoughts have the power to both help you calm down or aggravate your anger. Every time you ponder about how life is unfair, or how you missed out on a promotion, count your blessings. Think of the good things you have going on in life.

“Coping with anger can be made soothing or self-regulating with simple tricks such as breathing exercises, counting backwards or taking a break,” says Richa Vashista, chief mental health expert, AtEase.

Be Physically Active

In a study published in ACTA Scientific Medical Sciences in 2019, researchers found that physical exercise is one of the most effective methods of reducing anger. Doing something physically strenuous or even taking a walk can provide an outlet to pent-up emotions. In general, exercising and walking have shown to have a positive effect on a person’s mental health.

Count to 10

Count to 10, 20 or even 100. This is another method that has been seen to have a calming effect on people. It shifts your focus from whatever is making you angry to counting.

“The old familiar technique of counting to 10 before saying anything works as it provides the time needed for delay and distraction from the anger-arousing event,” says Roy.

Undeniably, anger is something that we can – and should – rein in. Channelised in the right direction, it gives us the strength to raise issues of concern, make a difference and stand up for a just cause. You need to work to find that cause to tame that temper. Then you will feel the difference.

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