When you’re predisposed to feeling enraged, it may seem like every little thing in the world is designed to tick you off. Blood sucking mosquitos flying around you, sitting in traffic jams, even the sound of other people’s chewing is enough to get your blood racing.
Anger gets the mind and body ready for action. It arouses the nervous system, increasing the heart rate, blood pressure, blood flow to muscles, blood sugar level and sweating. It also sharpens the senses and increases the production of adrenalin, a hormone produced at times of stress. At the same time as these physical changes, anger is thought to affect the way we think. When we are first faced with a threat, anger helps us quickly translate complex information into simple terms: ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ for instance.
When you feel these physical effects, there are some quick & simple steps you can take to calm yourself down:
- It’s a cliche, but the three (or more!) deep breaths thing really works. It makes your whole body settle itself, and importantly, buys yourself some time before you go leaping into (a potentially regrettable) action.
- Counting to ten.
- Remove yourself from the circumstances, if possible. Walk away until you’re calmer and ready to approach the situation again. Going in with a clear mind is a huge help.
- Talking yourself down & positive self-talk. Really trying to step outside yourself, and think rationally about the situation you’re in. A lot of the time, we get angry because we feel like we’re not communicating properly, like we’re not being heard. Talking yourself through what exactly you mean to say is imperative to effective communication. Here’s an infographic to help you out: