Cooling down when you’re fired up.
This topic is one that I’m still learning about every day. Picking through brushes of thorns, trying to make my way to the other side in how navigating anger feels. Some days there are flowers along with the thorns, making the excursion not as bad. Other days, the thorns rip my skin and draw blood.
I’m not a psychologist by any means. Though I have a deep love for the mind and how it works. It never ceases to amaze me how trauma that we accustom ourselves to can live on in us for decades. As small children, we carry such burdens that, as adults, they seep out of us. Unable to hold the trauma alone, we take it out on others and even ourselves.
The American Psychological Association defines anger as “ an emotion characterized by tension and hostility arising from frustration, real or imagined injury by another, or perceived injustice.”
When we feel as though injustices have happened to us, it is normal to feel upset and angry about why someone would hurt us, deliberately or not. Feeling frustrated over a situation we think is out of our control is not out of the ordinary.
But what about when that anger feels like the fire from one’s veins is going to explode? How do we manage that? How do we calm down?
These are not easy questions. I do not feel anger is something that you suddenly release one day. Though I could only hope and wish that it was.
Navigating anger is much easier than trying to dumb it down and try to run from it. Here are some tips that have helped me, and even if they help just one person, that’s enough for me.
- Meditate in the morning- This has helped me immensely while maneuvering around my own emotions and other people. Sometimes we soak up what other people are feeling and forget to come back and align with ourselves. Meditating in the morning has helped me guide myself more mindfully. Rather than getting road rage, I can breathe and have more clarity in my situation.
- Observation- Finding the greatness in what surrounds us can be an excellent way to tune in. When we can observe what is around us, such as the intricate bark lines, the difference in how one stream sounds from another, or how a snowflake falls gently onto the cold ground, there is power in recognizing what is happening right now, in the present. The “right now” is the reminder that the past is far gone, and only I can control the present.
- Just breath- When that familiar rise in emotion comes to your recognition, practice the 4–7–8 technique. According to Gundersenhealth.org, this technique can help reduce cortisol and can help reduce the feeling of anger. Cortisol is one of the hormones that, if too high, can cause irritability. What is 4–7–8, you ask? Inhale for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, and exhale for 8 seconds.
When we can control our anger and not let it get the best of us, we can live a more fulfilled and mindful life. There’s nothing wrong with anger itself; however, when we allow it to govern us, that is where the issue is. I know this is hard, and every day may be a struggle, one that your loved ones may not understand. However, if this is you, please know there is hope. These are just some tips on how to help yourself that I use and hope they can be of use to someone else.