22/06/2014 19:39 BST | Updated 20/08/2014 06:59 BST

How to Handle Anger

The A-Z Challenge: A is for Anger. Shift negative to positive alphabetically.

Do you get a little hot under the collar when a car cuts you up in traffic? Feel irritable when a colleague questions your decision? Slam the phone down when faced with endless computerised voice prompts? Or simply get mad when things don't go your way? With all the pressures and demands we have thrown at us on a daily basis, little things can easily wear us down until we find ourselves having a complete meltdown.


We all loose our temper from time to time; from mild frustration, irritation or annoyance, to moments of rage. Now the problem isn't getting angry but how we handle anger. What do you do when you get angry? Do you lash out and have an all out eruption? Or do you hold it in and turn the anger inwards onto yourself?

Most often, anger wants to be right, anger makes excuses, anger finds fault, anger blames.... As anger increases, perspective and reasoning decrease; remember, anger is only 1 letter away from danger! Whether expressed or suppressed, anger doesn't feel good or look good. It does nothing positive for your health, well-being, work and relationships.

So when your anger button gets pushed, whether it's a difficult interpersonal interaction or an emotionally charged email, the best thing you can do is stay alert and catch yourself before you react! Realise that you're emotionally charged and accept what you are feeling.

To curb your anger, try one of the following:

  • Breathe deeply, breathe slowly. Now take several more deep slow breaths.
  • Take a break.
  • Go for a walk or a run.
  • Write or draw your feelings.

In other words, create some space and take time out, even if it's just a brief moment to defuse and release your anger in a healthy way, to recuperate and regain your cool.

You can laugh off whatever's made you angry. Be careful not to give in to harsh, sarcastic humour; that's just another unhealthy expression of anger. Or you can take a moment to meditate. Let your mind become serene like a waterfall, and wash away all the anger, irritation and frustration. Or listen to "Calm Ocean Waves - Guided Meditation to Cool Anger".

Be positive, be cool, be calm and you're most likely to respond rather than react, handle the situation better and come out better off. Things always look different when you're feeling cool and calm rather than angry.

At a later point in time, do reflect on what makes you angry and why. Uncover the issues that are getting under your skin and discover insights into your anger triggers. You might discover that most often your anger is a by-product of your way of thinking and your unfulfilled expectations, not someone or something else. That means that you can shift your anger by changing your thoughts and expectations. Recognise any recurring thoughts and expectations and create alternatives.

The next time you're angry with someone because they're not doing or being as you want them to do or be, remind yourself: anger is temporary but the relationship is permanent. Look at the bigger picture, not just the small details and ask yourself: Am I angry because I want the other person to live up to my expectations or rules? Am I focusing on the impossible?

Tame your temper over a period of time and you'll find it easier and easier to stay cool and calm, no matter what.

Guess the next challenge, B is for ....

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