Who hasn't felt their temper rise in a traffic jam or their blood boil in a heated argument? We all get angry—a normal, often healthy reaction.
But if you find yourself blowing up all the time, it may be time to assess your anger meter and whether you have a short fuse. Too much anger can be bad for you. It can harm everything from your relationships to your health and happiness.
Managing anger, on the other hand, has plenty of benefits. Here are a few strategies experts suggest, including many you can use in the heat of the moment:
Avoid anger triggers as much as you can. Do certain people, places or situations set you off? For example, if a certain traffic route tends to make you angry, maybe you could take an alternate route or even a bus.
Change your reaction. When a situation angers you, try to see it differently. Perspective is a good thing. For instance, a broken closet door isn't the worst thing that could happen—and kicking it hard enough to break it even more obviously won't help.
Just breathe. Take several deep breaths. Notice the air going in and out of your diaphragm. While you do this, try repeating a calming phrase or a word of your choice.
Count to 10. Use the time to listen to the other person—and think carefully about how you want to respond.
Walk it off. A short brisk walk may help you blow off steam.
Picture a happy place. Maybe that's a beautiful island you imagine or one of your favorite real-world locations.
Don't take it personally. OK, so maybe your boss asked you to work late and the car broke down again. It doesn't mean the world is out to get you.
Run a reality check. Ask yourself: Is it really worth getting angry? Am I responding appropriately? Where does this situation rank in the bigger picture? Do I really want to ruin my day over this? If not, then why expend the energy on anger?
If you feel like your anger is getting out of your control, talk to your doctor. Anger management therapy may help.
Sources: American Psychological Association; HelpGuide.org