Get a (nonviolent) grip on your rage

Everybody gets angry. When faced with anger-causing stimuli, people experience involuntary physiological changes, including increases in heart rate and blood pressure and the release of adrenaline into the bloodstream. Anger is a natural reaction, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. But if it’s not handled properly, anger can get you into a lot of trouble and, ultimately, booted out of college. If you have problems with anger management, it’s important that you make learning to control your anger a priority in your life.

Managing Your Anger

If you have a hard time controlling your anger, these tips can help you keep things in check and defuse tense situations without resorting to yelling or violence. Take a pre-emptive approach to your anger so that the next time your roommate wakes you up at 3 a.m. or someone spreads rumors about you around campus, you can keep your cool. To avoid getting hot under the collar:

  • Put things in perspective. Try to reconstruct your cognitive processes so that you react to stimuli in ways other than anger. Train yourself to think in terms of logic and reason rather than emotions. You might be mad as hell now, but will this event matter at all 5, 10, or 20 years down the road? Don’t do something you could regret for the rest of your life.
  • Eliminate the causes. Many people react angrily to problems in their lives. Try to confront these problems and solve them.
  • Keep your distance. Know what situations and environments cause your anger and try to avoid them, particularly at times when you feel your anger might come out.
  • Relax. It’s cliché, but it works. Take deep breaths. Close your eyes. Think happy thoughts. Try chanting a soothing word or phrase.
  • Open the lines of communication. Start listening to what people around you are saying. Don’t take offense at what other people say; instead, give them the benefit of the doubt. Don’t say whatever pops into your head. Consider how it will affect others.
  • Be assertive, not aggressive. Don’t hurl insults and lay blame on others. Don’t be manipulative. This doesn’t mean that you have to let others walk all over you, though. Use forceful “I” statements to make it clear what you want. Calmly negotiate a compromise.
  • Use a joke. Instead of reacting with rage, react with humor. Laughter can melt away tension. Be careful not to use sarcastic comments that are really just veiled insults.
  • Limit your alcohol intake. Booze heightens anger and aggression and lowers inhibitions, which can make you more likely to choose a violent course of action.

Get help. Not everyone can control their anger. A counselor can help you.

Don’t vent your rage by punching a pillow or throwing stuff around. Studies have shown that such actions may actually increase anger. Physical exercise can be a good release, but do something nonviolent such as going for a jog.

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