Anger management exercises – Part 2

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Learning to manage your anger involves adopting new ways of reacting that are more in line with your values or goals and result in more positive outcomes for yourself. Before reading this article, we suggest reading the article on understanding anger and Anger management exercises part 1 to prepare yourself.

In this article, you will find some tips and several exercises that you can perform to help you manage your anger effectively in the moment.

Remove yourself from the situation 

One of the best ways to manage your anger in the moment can be to simply remove yourself from the situation or circumstances that are causing you to feel angry. If you are not sure how, or if you can manage your anger in the moment, take some time on your own and leave!

Anger is an emotion, a temporary state that flares up and reduces over time. By removing ourselves from the situation, we give ourselves time to calm down and think about how we would like to respond to the situation. If anyone else is involved in these situations, you can prepare them by explaining what you are going to do in advance and practise things to say to politely excuse yourself from these situations.

 

Distract yourself

Distraction can be an effective short-term technique to reduce anger in situations which you cannot resolve or change. As mentioned in the article about understanding anger, there is a back-and-forth relationship between our thoughts and our anger. Distracting yourself will therefore prevent you from retriggering yourself and increasing your anger. It can also serve as a good way to get rid of some of that built-up energy. Try doing an activity which requires your attention. Think about a demanding physical activity, or an activity which requires effort and focus, for example playing sports, cleaning your house, finishing your work, or doing some painting. You can also try evoking strong physical sensations, for example by taking a cold shower, tasting something very sour or spicy, listening to some music, something that makes you dance or gives you a good feeling.

Write down each distraction skill and rate your anger before and after performing the exercise to determine which is the best skill for you. For example:

Distraction skill Anger Before 0-10 Anger After 0-10
Take a cold shower 7 3

Find out what works for you and write yourself a small action plan in your NiceDay diary.

 

Reducing physical sensations

Another skill to reduce the experience of anger is reducing the physical response associated with anger. For example: when we are angry, our body temperature increases. This is where phrases such as ‘blood boiling’ come from. Lowering your body temperature can therefore send a signal to your brain that your anger is becoming less intense and, therefore, it is an effective strategy for reducing anger. Try going outside, taking a cold shower, or holding an ice pack against your head.

Other techniques include engaging in intense physical exercise to release some of the energy and arousal, or to practise a relaxation exercise to induce physical relaxation. Check out our library on relaxation and practise the technique that suits you best.

 

Express your anger

Anger is an important emotion that often arises when you feel something is wrong, when you sense a threat or if you feel that you are being mistreated. Therefore, being able to express it effectively and being heard is vital and can help you to regulate your anger.

Unfortunately, most people do not enjoy being the target of anger and, therefore, they naturally avoid the situation or fight back. Therefore, your chances of being heard and getting your needs met are reduced. Thus, it is a very useful skill to be able to express your anger effectively. A good exercise is to develop a script to express your anger. Use the points below to develop your own script. Write it down in your NiceDay diary so you can access it whenever you need it.

  1. Describe the situation that made you angry. Try to be as clear and objective as possible. Avoid writing from your own perspective, opinion or judgements.
  2. Explain your feelings. Try to use I-statements such as ‘I feel’ and ‘I think’.
  3. State your needs and wants. Try to be as specific and clear as possible. For example, what do you need from them? What can the other person do to help you get rid of the issues you just mentioned?
  4. State how fulfilling your needs or wants will benefit them. For example, it will improve your relationship, or make you more willing to help them as well.
  5. Write down the compromises you are willing to make.

These are just some of the steps you can take to help you manage your anger more effectively. Each step and each exercise will take practise and patience until you can put them to use in an effective way. Don’t forget to focus on the improvements you have already made and reward yourself for the steps you have taken.

Do you want to learn more about these skills and other exercises you can try out? You can find them in The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook for Anger.

 

Reference:

Chapman, A. L., & Gratz, K. L. (2015). The dialectical behavior therapy skills workbook for anger: Using DBT mindfulness and emotion regulation skills to manage anger. New Harbinger Publications.

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