Investing in times of relaxing and reflection is good for everyone. Getting out in nature and going for a hike is also an excellent opportunity to relax and have meaningful conversations about life and how we deal with the pressures and issues of life.
In our minds during this Wisdom Note, let us break camp and head out onto the trail. As we do, the subject of anger control comes up. All of us deal with anger in our lives and the lives of others. It is an issue that we need to prepare our minds for in advance, so that we know how to handle anger issues when they are directly impacting our lives. In our previous note, we talked about how to handle the situation when someone dumps their garbage or anger on us. Do you internalize it? Do you take it and and then dump it onto someone else? Or have you made your life a “no garbage zone?”
As a Christ follower, I attempt to allow God’s Spirit to control my actions, but even if I endeavor not to accept or allow garbage in my life, I am human and have weaknesses. And so do you. You will find at times that garbage will seep into your world and keeping your temper in check can be challenging.
Do you fume when someone cuts you off in traffic? Does your blood pressure rocket when your child refuses to cooperate? Anger is a normal and even healthy emotion, but it’s important to deal with and control it in a positive way. Uncontrolled anger can take a toll on both your health and your relationships.
If you are ready to take responsibility for controlling the anger in your life when it occurs, then learning and following these 10 anger management tips will be useful.
1. Think before you speak.
In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to say something you’ll later regret. Take a few moments to collect your thoughts before saying anything, and allow others involved in the situation to do the same.
Proverbs 17:27, “A truly wise person uses few words; a person with understanding is even-tempered.”
2. Once you’re calm, express your anger.
As soon as you’re thinking clearly, express your frustration in a confident but non-confrontational way. State your concerns and needs clearly and directly without hurting others or trying to control them.
Proverbs 25:15, “Patience can persuade a prince, and soft speech can break bones.”
3. Get some exercise.
Physical activity can help reduce the stress that can cause you to become angry. If you feel your anger escalating, go for a brisk walk or run or spend some time doing other enjoyable physical activities.
Hebrews 12:1, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”
4. Take a timeout.
Timeouts aren’t just for kids. Give yourself short breaks during times of the day that tend to be stressful. A few moments of quiet time might help you feel better prepared to handle what’s ahead without getting irritated or angry.
Matthew 14:23, “After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.”
5. Identify possible solutions.
Instead of focusing on what made you mad, work on resolving the issue at hand. Does your child’s messy room drive you crazy? Close the door. Is your spouse late for dinner every night? Schedule meals later in the evening, or agree to eat on your own a few times a week. Remind yourself that anger won’t fix anything and might only make it worse.
Psalms 4:4, “Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Think about it overnight and remain silent.”
6. Stick with “I” statements.
To avoid criticizing or placing blame, which might only increase tension, use “I” statements to describe the problem. Be respectful and specific. For example, say, “I’m upset that you left the table without offering to help with the dishes,” instead of, “You never do any housework.”
1 Peter 4:8, “Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.”
7. Don’t hold a grudge.
Forgiveness is a powerful tool. If you allow anger and other negative feelings to crowd out positive feelings, you might find yourself swallowed up by your own bitterness or sense of injustice. But if you can forgive someone who angered you, you might both learn from the situation. It’s unrealistic to expect everyone to behave exactly as you want at all times.
Ephesians 4:26-27, “And ‘don’t sin by letting anger control you.’ Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.”
8. Use humor to release tension.
Lightening up can help diffuse tension. Use humor to help you face what’s making you angry and any unrealistic expectations you have for how things should go. Avoid sarcasm, though. It can hurt feelings and make things worse.
Proverbs 15:23, “Everyone enjoys a fitting reply; it is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time!”
9. Practice relaxation skills.
When your temper flares, put relaxation skills to work. Practice praying, meditating, deep-breathing, imagining a relaxing scene, or repeating a calming word or phrase, such as, “Take it easy.” You might also listen to music, write in a journal, or do a few yoga poses. Do whatever it takes to encourage relaxation.
Psalms 145:5, “I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendor and your wonderful miracles.”
10. Know when to seek help.
Learning to control anger is a challenge for everyone at times. Consider seeking help for anger issues if your anger seems out of control, causes you to do things you regret, or hurts those around you.
1 Chronicles 16:11, “Search for the Lord and for his strength; continually seek him.”
Apply these 10 tips to your life, and gradually you will be able to tame your anger.