Anger Awareness Week: Five Steps to a Calmer You

03/12/2015 15:56 GMT | Updated 02/12/2016 10:12 GMT

At my London-based hypnotherapy practice, I've seen how the destructive nature of anger can cause problems at work, with family and in relationships, as well as triggering other symptoms, including depression, IBS and migraines.

With Christmas around the corner, stress levels are naturally exacerbated and so it's important to equip yourself with strategies to overcome and manage your anger effectively. In line with Anger Awareness Week (1 - 7 December), here are five simple tips to enable you to deal with your pent-up rage in a healthy way:

1. Step Out

When you're angry, adrenalin is released into your body, causing your blood pressure and heart rate to increase. This prepares you for the fight or flight response: necessary if you are in danger, but potentially destructive if you're in the middle of an argument with a partner, dealing with a screaming baby or handling a difficult work call. So rather than letting your anger increase to boiling point, step out of the situation or ask someone to cover for you so you can give yourself the chance to calm down. Go for a walk outside, grab a cup of tea, splash water on your face or jump up and down (behind closed doors, of course). With a little time to pause, you will quickly regain control and be able to re-enter the situation with a more rational frame of mind.

2. Breathe

If you can't step out of the situation (such as being stuck on a crowded train) use this simple yet powerful relaxation technique to regain control:

Close your eyes, and as you breathe in slowly and deeply, imagine your belly filling up like a hot air balloon. As you breathe out, visualise a hot air balloon floating upwards. Breathe in, and your balloon expands even further, breathe out and you float higher and higher. Gradually, a sense of weightlessness will encompass you and any tension should dissipate.

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Incorporate this simple technique into your morning routine, perhaps before you get out of bed or whilst on your commute. If you find yourself in a tense environment, this exercise will reduce your adrenalin and enable you to tackle the situation in a more rational, effective manner.

3. Laugh

One of the best ways to diffuse your anger is through the distraction of laughter. One study in 1998 found that whilst ruminating on the negative can increase your depressed mood, distraction reduces it. So if you notice your anger mounting, turn to an amusing online video, recall a funny joke or favourite comedy show. Nothing lifts the mood like a clumsy cat.

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4. Communicate

Angry people are more prone to outbursts when they feel attacked or a sense of injustice. In these instances, explaining your feelings calmly and rationally will help the other person to see things from your point of view and thus avoid further friction. Avoid using accusatory "you" statements, which can cause them to feel angry and defensive. Instead, use "I" statements, such as "I feel overwhelmed with the amount of work I have to do" rather than "you annoy me by not helping out with the chores".

5. Tune Out

While classical music or sounds containing binaural beats can bring a sense of calm and tranquillity in some, a study published in the Frontiers in Human Neuroscience discovered that heavy metal and songs featuring aggressive lyrics can help you process your anger in a positive way. So if you want to reduce levels of hostility, irritability and stress, consider tuning into Sepultura or Megadeth. You never know - it might just work.

Whilst we all get angry from time to time, unresolved anger can have serious health implications. A 2014 study by the Harvard School of Public Health indicated that angry outbursts could triple the risk of heart attacks and strokes. It is important, therefore, to find a permanent solution to your unresolved anger rather than merely controlling or suppressing it. I recommend curative hypnotherapy, which aims to seek out the root cause of the anger and correct it permanently. Find out more about curative hypnotherapy or contact me at Hypnotherapy London for free, confidential advice.

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