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Dealing with Anger Tips

# Irritability and depression

Anger happens, it’s just part of life. But if you have depression you can add anger to the list (along with sadness, fearfulness, trouble sleeping, and changes in appetite) of common depression symptoms.

Depression treatment may lessen anger. But there are things you can do to blunt the effects of this intense and sometimes dangerous feeling.

# Do count to 10 (or 100)

Thomas Jefferson famously said, “When angry, count 10, before you speak; if very angry, 100.”

“Angry people are highly aroused and when people get aroused, they do and say things they later regret,” says Brad Bushman, PhD, professor of communication and psychology at The Ohio State University in Columbus.

Counting (slowly) to whatever number seems appropriate gives your blood pressure and heart rate a chance to return to normal. “As time passes, arousal diminishes,” says Bushman.

# Do forgive

Even if you don’t ultimately forget the incident, forgiving a person who has provoked you is an excellent way to subdue anger, says Bushman. Forgiveness can help you stop ruminating, which is when negative thoughts play over and over in your head like some horrible movie scene.

# Do distract yourself

Another way to dial it down is with distraction. Katherine Kueny, PhD, director of behavioral medicine in the department of internal medicine at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, tells people to place themselves on an emotional scale of 1-to-10 with 10 being the most angry.
This could be drawing, cooking, taking a walk or finishing a Sudoku puzzle or crossword puzzle.

# Do take a deep breath

Taking deep breaths is one good way to calm yourself when you’re in the throes of anger. “Slow breaths will slow the heart rate down,” says Kueny.

# Don’t deny that you’re angry

People who are able to see their anger as anger are less likely to resort to aggression or violence, according to a study published in 2011 in the journal Emotion. “People who are better at categorizing their emotions into specific categories are more in tune with their emotions,” says Ricky Pond, lead author of the study and a PhD student at the University of Kentucky.

# Do write about it

“Writing or journaling allows you to slow down and think through how you want to respond so you’re responding rather than reacting,” says Kueny.

# Don’t stomp or storm

Instead of storming into a room and screaming that your partner isn’t paying enough attention to you, write about it or employ some other anger-dissipating trick. After you’re feeling calmer, walk into the room and say you’ve missed him or her and suggest an activity you can do together.

# Do exercise

Aerobic exercise, including brisk walking or jogging, can be a great way to handle anger.

# Do practice compassion

Doing something compassionate for someone else is incompatible with anger and aggression.

“It’s hard to feel angry and compassionate at the same time,” Bushman says. So it’s OK to do something nice for someone who’s making you mad. Research indicates that compassion may also dissipate the other person’s anger.

# Do try to be grateful

A body of research is emerging to show that the simple act of being grateful can make us happy and happy, of course, is about as far as you can get from angry.

# Do talk, but not right away

Gauge how intense your anger is on a scale of 1-to-10 before making a decision to open your mouth about it. If you talk when you’re still red hot, you’re more likely to get into an argument.

# Do consider prayer

It’s not for everyone, but a set of three experiments found that people who prayed for another person, be it a stranger, someone who had angered them, or a friend in need, had less anger.