The temperature of the world seems to have escalated and I don’t think I’m the only one who’s feeling it. 2020 has tested our values, roles, patience, and our ability to control our anger and frustration about how the world has suddenly changed.
I was reading a mindfulness magazine that was written a while ago – before 2021 and the Capitol riots and also before the Coronavirus mutated and made it glaringly obvious that this situation won’t be over as soon as we had all hoped. The Mindfulness Journal has some amazing tips to get a grip on that rage that builds up and can overflow at times. I wanted to add a few more to this list from my experience. Here are 9 powerful ways to get a grip on anger.
This might be the most simple thing in the world to do… if you have enough presence of mind to take a breath that is.
Something I learned in my yoga studies is Pranayama breathing. Pranayama is the ancient practice of controlling your breath. You control the timing, duration, and frequency of every breath and hold. The goal of pranayama is to connect your body and mind. It also supplies your body with oxygen while removing toxins. This is meant to provide healing physiological benefits.
Here’s how you do the alternate nostril method.
A technique I learned a while ago is the 5-4-3-2-1 method of tapping into our senses to get a perspective on awareness. It takes less than 5 minutes to shift to a different mental space after this exercise.
5 – Notice 5 things directly around you that you SEE and say them out loud
4 – Notice 4 things around you that you HEAR and say them out loud
3 – Notice 3 things that you can FEEL and say them out loud
2 – Notice 2 things that you can SMELL and say them out loud
1 – Notice 1 thing you can TASTE and say that out loud
Now notice how this experience makes you take a pause. Perhaps you can shift your awareness and mood from anger or frustration to gratefulness in being able to tap into the world around you and your senses. Notice that moods and emotions evolve from our thoughts and that changing your mood is simply in your power to do so.
It’s important to start noticing all the things you can control in a situation that makes you uncontrollably angry. Especially if it’s the kind of anger that’s getting in the way of your life. Some ways you can take control is to journal your feelings and label;
- Where is this emotion coming from?
- Is anyone else responsible for making me feel this way?
- What am I doing to overcome this?
- What is out of my control?
- What can I control?
- How can I look at this from a different perspective?
CHANGE YOUR FACE
Somatics make a huge difference in shifting moods. According to Psychology Today, when you smile, your brain releases tiny molecules called neuropeptides to help fight off stress. Then other neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin and endorphins come into play too. The endorphins act as a mild pain reliever, whereas the serotonin is an antidepressant.
A simple thing you can do: SMILE 🙂
According to Forbes, pasting a smile on your face, even if you are consciously faking it, can improve your mood and reduce stress.
Even looking at emoji can make a difference but more importantly, moving your face actually stimulates or maybe even tricks your brain into that emotion.
TURN THE NEWS OFF (Or change the way you get your news)
This is especially relevant for my US audience. Current events and 24 hour news is made partly for entertainment and profit instead of just providing the facts. There’s a lot of opinion and drama and it’s EXHAUSTING and terrible for our mental health.
“Being tuned in to the 24 hour news cycle may fuel a lot of negative feelings like anxiety, sadness and hopelessness,” says Dr. Jana Scrivani, a clinical psychologist. “Subjecting ourselves to an endless barrage of tragedies and trauma can foster a real sense of being out of control.
If you feel the need to know what’s happening in the world – opt for NPR News that is 5 minutes and updated once per hour. Personally, sometimes I watch the news highlights from The Daily Show or late night comedians to dull down the doom and gloom a tad.
GET A NATURE HIT (OR FRESH AIR AT LEAST)
I talk to people around the world, everyday. A lot of people are under quarantine or curfew conditions and it’s understandably hard to leave your work zone when it’s so close to the living room and kitchen. But fresh air and seeing the blue sky are the perfect cure for a reset in mindset. There’s no excuse for not being able to step outside for 15 minutes to take a walk around the block. (Unless you are confined at at home – I’m talking to you, Turkey) Work around the curfews and your schedule but be sure to give yourself permission to reset during the day – and do this daily. Bonus if you can find trees or a nice water source around!
What happens to our bodies when they move is incredible. If you’re a gym junkie you already know this – the increased blood flow through the body is powerful enough to recharge and reset the brain. Incredibly your mood will shift because the endorphins generated makes you naturally high and happy. If you want to take it even further – take a kickboxing class to let your aggression out properly 😉
A recent study appears to confirm that exercise can reduce anger. According to Nathaniel Thom, a stress physiologist, “exercise, even a single bout of it, can have a robust prophylactic effect” against the buildup of anger.
Mr. Thom suggested: “if you know that you’re going to be entering into a situation that is likely to make you angry, go for a run first.”
Not a bad idea. But the run might be useful not just because it works off some excess energy but also because it gives you a chance to think about what made you angry in the first place – or what you really want to do about it.
GET ENOUGH REST
When we get insufficient sleep we get cranky and one little thing can set us off. A large body of research supports the connection between sleep deprivation and mood changes such as increased anger and aggression. Individuals who get an adequate amount of sleep each night exhibit fewer emotional outbursts, such as anger, and display fewer aggressive behaviors.
Losing just a couple hours of sleep at night makes you angrier, especially in frustrating situations, according to new Iowa State University research. While the results may seem intuitive, the study is one of the first to provide evidence that sleep loss causes anger.
Anger is a powerful emotion. We need it for survival. But tapping in to your control is the key to not letting anger seep into your soul and fill you with a life of unhappiness. Try these methods and habit changes and let me know if they help!!
With love and gratitude,