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20 Things to Do When You Feel Extremely Angry

20 Things to Do When You Feel Extremely Angry

When you feel extremely angry, wouldn’t it be amazing to throw a juvenile temper tantrum without someone having you committed?

I admit, when I see a kid losing his marbles in the cereal aisle, I don’t cringe. I envy.

At a certain age you start holding back on the immediacy of your emotions, and who can blame you? These days, being too happy is considered naïve, being too sad is an automatic clinical diagnosis, and being too angry is a complete waste of energy.

You’ve heard it all. Suck it up. Let it go. Move on.

Anger isn’t worth it. Right?

Wrong.

Anger is the most important emotion you have. When you’re angry, it’s a red flag that something needs to change, and when you’re extremely angry, something needs to change right now.

There are two ways you can deal with anger depending on the situation at hand: as it happens, or as a building block toward bigger life changes.

In the moment, decide which fork in the road you should take, then use one or more of the options below:

When You Feel Extremely Angry…

1. Let it Happen

You’ve been given a wide spectrum of emotions for a reason, so use them. Suppressing your anger is unhealthy. It can lead to ulcers and heart disease, never mind the damage it can do to your relationships and overall sense of well-being.

When I feel extremely angry and find myself holding back, I just think of Meg Ryan in French Kiss:

A healthy person is someone who expresses their feelings… Express, not repress… You know what happens to people who shut everybody out? They fester. Inside. Fester and rot.

This might seem strange, but try it! The next time you’re not expressing yourself, just picture a little Meg Ryan on your shoulder: “Fester fester fester, rot rot rot.”

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If you attempt to hide or ignore your anger, it won’t go away. It might subside for a certain amount of time, but eventually it will manifest itself elsewhere.

Don’t apologize for or excuse your anger. You’re angry for a valid reason, and acknowledging it is the first step toward resolving what’s bothering you.

2. Separate Emotion from Action

You’ll likely want to pull a Godzilla and destroy everything in your path, but it’s important to take a step back and feel the emotion before you take action on it, especially when you feel extremely angry—let the anger take its course. Prematurely deciding to take action may cause more angst than waiting to give perspective to your anger.

After you’ve cooled off, you might find:

  • the situation wasn’t as big a deal as you thought.
  • in the long run it will lead to better things for you.
  • it will take more than an outburst to solve the issue.

Or, you might find your anger was triggered by something completely different.

3. Identify Why

Extreme anger typically stems from a build-up of smaller annoyances. It’s like lighting a match: a person or situation rubs you the wrong way and your suppressed emotions flood to the surface. What’s awkward about this level of anger is when it strikes: it tends to hit at inconvenient times, such as while you’re at work or out with loved ones.

The problem isn’t the delay in dealing with your anger, it’s when the delay turns into avoiding it altogether. Either the initial rage subsides and you try to shrug it off, or you’re so consumed by your schedule that you simply add it to the pile of unresolved issues.

The next time you feel extremely angry, don’t just promise yourself you’re going to deal with it at a more appropriate time—pencil in alone time. Make it happen.

4. Cool Off with Exercise

A great outlet to reduce tension is physical activity: use your anger as fuel for a healthier lifestyle.

Test various workouts and figure out which are most effective at calming your anger. Some people prefer aggressive exercise, such as kickboxing or running, while others find quieter activities more beneficial, such as walking, gardening, or (gasp!) cleaning.

5. Delay Your Reaction

If you’re in a situation where dealing with your anger immediately isn’t an option, inhale deeply. As you exhale, count to ten or repeat a phrase that helps you relax. Keep doing so until you feel centered again.

6. Distract Yourself

If you turn your attention elsewhere, it will help you focus on the present moment and prioritize your emotions.

Think of a pleasant memory, read a book, find your happy place (or borrow Happy Gilmore if you have to).

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7. Do Your Homework

If you feel extremely angry because of something that’s out of your control, like losing a promotion to someone else, do your homework before reacting. Look beyond what’s happened and find out why it has. Look past someone’s actions and look at their intentions: most of the time, they haven’t intended to hurt you.

There are always underlying circumstances—a cause and effect—and it’s crucial to look at a situation from every angle so all perspectives are taken into account. Nothing diffuses anger like logic.

If afterward you’re still angry, find out how others have moved on from similar situations; be the one to come out a better person.

8. Don’t Play the Victim

The worst thing you can do is blame the entire universe for your problems.

Yes, this person did you wrong, and sure, that situation could have worked out better, but you have a mind of your own: your life isn’t happening to you, so why are you acting like it is?

Until you take responsibility for your part in what’s happened—how your reaction to this person and that situation lead you to where you are today—you’ll just keep making the same mistakes and fanning the fire instead of putting it out.

Don’t ask, “Why me?” Ask, “What now?”

9. Find a Safe Haven

We all have our “spot”: a primary place we go to think or relax. This can be a room in your home that’s just for you or a piece of the forest you’ve claimed as your own. It doesn’t matter where this spot is, as long as going there makes you feel calm and helps you re-energize.

When you feel extremely angry, you’re physically and emotionally overstimulated—the demands on your time are inevitably getting to you. If the situation allows you to leave and take a time-out, do so and immediately visit your spot.

Sometimes all you need is a change in environment (and pace) to calm yourself down and gain perspective. During these quiet moments, see if you can think of ways to cut down or cut out the triggers that are making you angry.

10. Look Before You Leap

If there’s a chance someone has betrayed you, your first instinct will likely be to confront and lash out at them.

While I’m a believer in always following your instincts, in this instance I encourage you to step back before confronting them and evaluate the situation: did you hear this through the grapevine? Does it seem plausible or out of character for them? What will you say when you confront them? What do you want to know?

Line your cards up and give them a chance; you don’t want to automatically assume the worst.

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If it’s someone you’ve had problems with in the past, do your best to be specific about your anger. Focus on the situation at hand.

If you batch together all the anger you’ve ever felt toward them, this will obviously lead to more anger, and a much larger argument than necessary.

11. Discuss Your Anger with Someone Trustworthy

When you’re having a frustrating day or going through something that’s causing ongoing stress in your life, find someone trustworthy to talk to. This can be a family member, a close friend, or someone you work with. Even if they don’t offer specific advice, the simple act of sharing what’s bothering you might help you find a solution.

There have been many occasions where I went into a conversation asking a question, and found the answer during my stream of consciousness rant.

12. Listen to Music

Music is one of the best things to have in your dealing-with-anger arsenal for several reasons:

  • Listening to aggressive music that matches your mood allows you to work through the emotion productively.
  • Listening to slower music (such as acoustic) allows you to slow your thought process and calm down.
  • Listening to specific songs with lyrics that relate to what you’re going through help you put your own experiences into perspective.
  • Turning up the volume allows you to drown out your thought process when “the little things” are irritating and distracting you.

Decide whether you’re going to use music to work through or distract from your anger, and hit play.

13. Write an E-mail

After you’ve argued with someone, are wronged by them, or your anger toward them is lingering longer than it should be, create your own closure by writing them an e-mail.

Write out your fury in stream of consciousness format, then continue to revise the e-mail as you think of new things you would’ve liked to say at the time.

Get everything out of your system about the issue on your own time, as the words come to you. Once you have nothing more to say and you’ve perfected the e-mail… delete it.

Use erasing the e-mail as a symbolic gesture toward letting go of what’s bothering you. Trust me, you’ll feel a lot lighter afterward.

14. Make a List

Make a list of all the things, people, and situations that make you angry. Be as specific and detailed as possible, and then rate each item from 1 – 5, with 1 equaling Annoyed and 5 Infuriated. Next, determine whether you can cut back on it in your life or cut it out entirely.

With the items that have to stay, plan ways to reframe how you feel about them so they don’t send you off the deep end. Do everything you can to phase out what infuriates you, no matter how long it takes—nothing is worth jeopardizing your heart health.

15. Disconnect from Your Triggers

There are always little things that set us off, no matter how trivial.

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Me? Shopping on weekends turns me into a total nutcase. (I won’t even get into the story about the guy who held everyone up trying to return a microwave he apparently hadn’t used, despite the fact that there was food stuck in it!) Not only do I not shop on weekends, I never shop during peak hours: this allows me to fully enjoy my shopping experience.

Be mindful of your triggers. It doesn’t matter why something makes you tick, just recognize that it does and do what’s necessary to work around it—for yourself, and for those who cross your path.

16. Redecorate

Your home should always be a place that relaxes you. If your home feels less homey and more mental institution-y, take the time to turn it into an oasis.

Declutter, use stress-reducing colors, and why not try feng shui—it couldn’t hurt, right?

17. Watch a Funny Movie/Show

When you’ve tried everything and still can’t shake your anger, why not laugh it off? (Literally.)

Laughter soothes tension, encourages muscle relaxation, and lightens your mental load. While there’s a lot of controversy surrounding the studies on how laughter improves your health, who cares? Laughing doesn’t suck. Anger does. Period.

18. Put Yourself First

Many of us don’t put our health first, even though it’s on our minds constantly.

But if you become more mindful about doing so—cutting back on things like caffeine and nicotine, getting more sleep, exercising regularly, and decreasing stress—guaranteed your emotional fuse wouldn’t be tested as often.

19. Do Something Relaxing

What activities do you enjoy most? Which ones put you completely at ease? Are there activities that you love but never make time for?

Reconnect with the things you love to do. Doing what you enjoy will make you feel more fulfilled, and feeling fulfilled will automatically lessen your desire to feel angry.

20. Use Anger to Fuel Change

I love anger because I’ve mastered how to use it, and you can too.

There was a time when my life turned out exactly how I swore it never would, and I was so exhausted from the simple act of surviving I had no idea how to make the necessary changes.

Then something happened, something small that was as insignificant as burning your toast in the morning, and that was it. I was done. I had a Scarlett O’Hara moment and refused to live one more day with things the way they were. That anger propelled me to where I am now: building the writing career I’ve always wanted, surrounded by everything and everyone I care about. It gave me the adrenaline rush necessary to see things through.

But maybe you’re not burnt out like I was. Maybe it’s fear holding you back: A fear of failure. A fear of success. A fear of disappointing others. Whatever your fear, anger trumps fear in the rock-paper-scissors of life. It will productively push you to where you want to be, but you have to let it.

Own your anger. Don’t let it own you.

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Krissy Brady

A women's health & wellness writer with a short-term goal to leave women feeling a little more empowered and a little less verklempt.

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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