7 Coping Skills that Will Make You an Anger Management Ninja

by Alli Polin on November 8, 2016

coping-skills

Sometimes things don’t go your way. It’s life. You didn’t get the promotion, your team missed a milestone, your child decided to color on the walls instead of paper or your presidential candidate lost the election. If you’re human, when the sh*t hits, you probably experience a moment (or two, or ten) of anger and frustration. For some people, their angry thoughts turn to rage like an uncontrollable fire. If you don’t want to leave a path of destruction in your wake, coping skills are your BFF.

As a grown up, you can’t throw a tantrum or slam the nearest object against the wall every time you feel the flare of anger rising from within. What you can do 100% of the time is reach into your cadre of coping skills and regulate your response.

People Are Watching Even When You Think They’re Not

When we first moved to my current home, my children and I went out to the store to get a drink and a treat. It was hot; I had boatloads of unpacking to do, and they were slow and wanted to explore. Eventually, I lost my temper and told them to MOVE! NOW!

The next week I went to a job interview and the first thing the CEO of the organization said to me was “I know you. I saw you out shopping with your kids this weekend…”

I was horrified. He laughed it off and said he’d been there many times, but I never wanted to be there again. I could do better and so can you.

Knowing and Doing are Two Different Things

Yes, this article has seven coping skills that are proven to work. However, the hardest choice you have to make is to use them. When you’re upset and frustrated, it can quickly become a runaway train that feels unstoppable. The best time to engage your coping skills is when your anger is leaving the station, not when it’s barreling towards sure destruction.

If you want to be an Anger Management Ninja, you have to practice. A headache, right? Practicing coping skills? The truth is, in the moment, you’ll never make choices that feel uncomfortable and foreign. If you do, it will just piss you off even more. Get to know these strategies now, so when you need them, you can call on them like your personal pair of anger blasting nunchucks.

7 Powerful Coping Skills to Master and Become an Anger Management Ninja

Walk Away

When you feel your blood start to boil, excuse yourself. Step into another room or the hall or get a coffee. Walking away will give you space before an uncontrollable explosion a moment alone to use other coping skills on this list.

Take a 10,000 Foot View

In the thick of things, it’s impossible to see a way forward. Get in a mental helicopter or take an inner hike to a top of a mountain. Look at your situation from this new perspective where you can look down as an outsider from the stress, pain or frustration of the moment. The mental distance between you and your circumstances helps to create an objective response instead of an automatic anger response.

Do Something Else

Play Candy Crush or your smartphone game of choice. Take out your knitting or look at pictures from your last vacation. Do something that you enjoy doing and only takes a few minutes. While you’re at it, make the conscious choice not to fume or replay the anger inciting moment, but instead be present with what’s in front of you now.

Guided Relaxation

If you are somewhere you can lie down, or at least privately sit somewhere comfortable, you can do a quick guided relaxation. When you’re angry, your body’s response is to tighten and internalize the stress you’re feeling. Close your eyes and start at the top of your head imagining a warm blue (or pick your favorite color) liquid flowing through you. Slowly move it down your body and through each of your limbs ending with your toes. The more you practice, the easier it becomes to get into the flow and reap the benefits.

Deep Breathing

Breathe deeply in through your nose and out through your mouth ten times. Each breath tells your brain to calm down. Your blood pressure will lower and so will your heart rate allowing you to see, feel and react more clearly.

Exercise

Most people know that exercise is a good choice when you feel your anger rising, and you need to blow off some steam. Did you also know that a habit of exercise can help you proactively control your anger response? When you exercise your body increases its levels of serotonin which is helpful in regulating your mood.

Turn on Music

When you listen to a favorite song or choose a tune that you find relaxing or makes you happy, you’re turning on parts of your brain that impact your mood and emotions. Avoid the rage anthems unless they make you move and in that case, pump up the volume and dance it out.

There are tons of other options out there ranging from cuddling up with your favorite pet to ripping a small piece of paper into a million bits. You can find a billion suggestions with a quick google search. Use one of these or one of the others that’s proven to help, but the key is to do something – don’t let your anger run the show.

Be a leader in your life and get ahead of a default anger response. Get in the habit of exercise now, practice guided relaxation, turn to deep breathing and feel the impact on your body and mind today. Don’t wait for the big blow up, let down or drama to be the trigger to release your inner Anger Management Ninja.

What would you add? What are your go-to coping skills?

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Jon Mertz November 8, 2016 at 6:58 am

Alli,

Great steps to manage our anger. Breathing and taking a higher level view are my new favorite ways to work through tense moments. A twist on the higher level view is to rise above the anger in another by unplugging myself from the conversation and just observing what is unfolding. Rather than become emotionally involved, I am watching body language and key words. In doing this, I find a way to respond more thoughtfully and productively.

Thank you for your key advice!

Jon

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LaRae Quy November 8, 2016 at 11:57 am

Love this—”The best time to engage your coping skills is when your anger is leaving the station, not when it’s barreling towards sure destruction.” Great advice…the best time to nip negative emotions is when they first show up, when they are at their weakest.

Great article and I will be sharing!

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Karin hurt November 8, 2016 at 2:00 pm

Great post. I would add, try to understand what’s frustrating you from another perspective. Sure you’ll still be ticked off, but it may help to consider what could be motivating or influencing the person or situation that ticked you off. I find when I do this it gives me a chance to more carefully consider my response.

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Terri Klass November 8, 2016 at 2:10 pm

Excellent suggestions of ways to face anger so we don’t lose control!

I often use self-talk to prevent my explosions. I try to think of why I am feeling a certain way and then quickly brainstorm ways to give the issue some perspective. I try not to respond quickly but rather with some thought.

Thanks Alli and will definitely share!

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John Thurlbeck November 9, 2016 at 7:17 am

I loved the post Alli, and practice at least five of your suggested seven approaches.
I think these ways do help you face life’s emotional storms, and they will happen whether you create them or not. I often finding pausing before responding gives me the space to let the emotional energy expend, and the time to consider my options.
I’ve already shared the post, not least because there are maybe a lot of people around the world quite angry, and maybe even fearful, now.
Take care my friend and stay safe.

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Cynthia Bazin November 10, 2016 at 6:52 pm

Great article Alli on how to deal with our emotions. This is an important article to share especially during these times; emotions are high. Thank you for your leadership Alli!

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Terri November 15, 2016 at 8:29 am

Hi Alli,

Excellent points on the importance of coping skills for rising anger and frustration. I agree with and use your 7 skills. They work!

And I also ask myself this question: “who would I be without this anger and frustration?” That question is a powerful one for me. While the question doesn’t negate the emotion I am experiencing, the answer guides me toward who I want to be, not who I am in that moment.

Will share.

Terri

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