Can your mood and reactions escalate from simple annoyance to unwelcome anger more often than you’d like?
If so, you’re not alone living life in the emotional fast lane.
The problem with the need for speed in this case is that chronic irritation and anger is associated with a slew of negative outcomes including heart disease, overeating, insomnia, stroke risk and depression.
The good news is that the fixes for de-escalating anger and annoyance are not difficult and don’t require any particular specialized skills.
Clinical psychologist Mark Crawford notes that the instinct to respond with a heightened emotional state to that which perturbs us is ingrained yet adaptive. “We all have a ‘fight or flight’ trigger,” he says, “some of us have a more sensitive one than others. However, the good news is that we can almost ‘reprogram’ this by techniques like breathing and particularly mindfulness meditation.”
There are many other techniques to take us from anger to relative calm and practicing them can lead to a decrease in the number of times our irritation escalates and/or shorten the duration of an angry episode.
Here are a few suggestions for reining in your emotion as you feel it getting out of control. Feel free to choose the ones you feel more comfortable with, and it’s perfectly ok to use more than one when life is throwing you zingers.
For example, not every irritation is minor, and everyone has different buttons. How you feel about someone cutting in line, a rude salesperson or a fight with a loved one may trigger a different response in you than it does in me. Personally, very high on my list is people who let their dogs poo in my driveway, while crying babies merit a meh—I mean, what else can they do?!
So, with that in mind, here are some ideas for the next time you feel steam about to blow out of your ears:
Take a breath, or several dozen, as needed!
Yes, this sounds like a cliché, but I’ve heard enough people swear by this technique to not value its usefulness.
As soon as you realize you’re feeling angry or annoyed, just breathe. Aim for five slow, deep and evenly spaced breaths. When you breathe deeply you deliver more oxygen to your body, invoking your body’s relaxation response and thus stabilizing your blood pressure.
Distract yourself with friendliness
Text or call someone who’s guaranteed to have a funny or sympathetic take on your situation. You know who I mean, the person who will respond with heart emojis or a wisecrack sure to get you laughing at your woes.
If the person is insightful as well, then you’ve also got candles on the cake! Let them give you their take on the situation, which will most likely be objective, helpful and/or a solution you hadn’t thought about.
See it from your dementor’s perspective
In other words, try to walk a mile in the shoes of the person who’s annoying you. Why? It may seem counterintuitive to try and get closer rather than farther away from someone who’s bugging you. But in actuality, trying to understand what someone may be going through (which is causing them to act as they are), can be therapeutic.
Are they having a bad day and taking it out on you? Regrettably, I admit I have done this exact same thing; I suspect most of us have. This certainly doesn’t excuse the behavior but it makes it understandable and provides a rationality to the behavior which can remove the instinct to take rudeness personally and thus escalate our anger.
Remember that this, too, shall pass
File your annoyance under the, “what goes up must come down,” mantra. Emotions are fleeting, and can evaporate just as quickly as they accumulate. It’s a matter of time before another emotion takes the place of the one you’re feeling now. Remind yourself of this eventuality, even go a bit Zen and remember that the here and now is always in flux!
Engage in active problem-solving
In other words, grab your toolbox and take control of the situation. Ask yourself, what can I do to get rid of this boiling blood? Silly as it may seem, in situations that make me feel angry and out of control I seek to rebalance by performing a small task in which I am in control, such as getting the mail, or feeding my cat. You can tell that I’m really steamed if I take it up a notch and grab the vacuum!
The point here is to act versus react, to get out of victim mode and into self-control mode. Moving physically can help shift your emotional state as well.
Make a list
You don’t have to grab your journal, just make a mental note of how this moment in time compares to the things that are important to you. Rate the importance factor of whatever it is that is ticking you off–how does it rate to the things that really matter? For me the things that really matter are loved ones, health, safety, well-being. When I think of these things, most irritations pale in comparison, the majority don’t even rate.
If these solutions just aren’t cutting it, there are professionals to talk to, individuals who can listen to your struggles and suggest strategies that can help curb your anger and quell your irritation–don’t hesitate to reach for help when you need it!
Lifelong recovery is possible: all you need to do is reach out. Starbent Recovery was founded on the belief that people suffering from addictive disorders, trauma, and other co-occurring issues can thrive in the right environment.
Our professional, dedicated staff have the understanding, experience, and compassion necessary to support each resident’s clinical treatment team goals. We offer individualized tier level programs, and guidance with residents’ personal recovery and independent living goals.
Our safe, peer residence offers luxury amenities and is located in the heart of upscale Tribeca close to multiple subway lines and surrounded by trendy dining and shopping.
To learn more about our premier women’s recovery residence, call us at (800) 673-0176.