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As a person who was raised by parents who would either explode or be passive aggressive when they were angry, I find myself getting angry very quickly and not knowing how to diffuse or control my own anger. It might be easy to have an aggressive outburst to make up for how you are feeling or how someone might be hurting you. However, most of the time, underlying emotions are the true root of your anger. For example, I might come home from a stressful day of classes and work, already in a bad mood when something my roommate does rapidly triggers my anger. My first instinct might be to lash out, but from their perspective they are probably confused as to why one “little thing” set me off so rapidly and intensely. During situations like these, it is important to follow these steps in order to diffuse and manage anger: 

  1. Remove Yourself from the Situation 

In the moment, it might be damaging to respond while you are still heated and angry. You might say something that you will later regret. When you take a break and remove yourself from the situation, it allows you to process your emotions, reflect on the situation at hand, and pinpoint the source of your anger. Ultimately, this will give you time alone to think and return to the situation or conversation calmly, allowing for productive and civil resolutions and discussions. 

  1. Take Deep Breaths

I personally like to use the Headspace app (free for most students) which offers a variety of relaxing breathing exercises. These exercises help regulate your nervous system, lower your heart rate, reduce cortisol levels, and therefore calm you down. Another technique is just holding your breath altogether. This technique significantly slows your heart rate and reduces anxiety especially if you are very  worked up. Even when not experiencing negative emotions, breathing experiences have many health benefits. 

  1. Do Some Math

This one might seem a little odd, but calculating simple math is a way to make your mind focus on something other than the reason why you are angry. It is a nice temporary distraction. Even something as simple as counting to 20 can distract your mind and diffuse your anger. Counting can be done along with breathing exercises. 

  1. Go for a walk or run 

Going on a walk or run is a great way to clear your head and experience a change of scenery, different from the one where you were feeling anger. During your walk, you can reflect on your emotions and actions or you can use the nature around you as a comforting distraction (It is even better if you are listening to your favorite uplifting playlists). Plus, going on a walk or run releases endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s natural painkillers in response to pain or stress; they trigger much-needed positive feelings. 

I am still working on managing my emotions and anger, but these small steps and changes have significantly helped the way I react. Not only am I healing my mind and heart in the process, but I am also preserving my relationships and their feelings.

Lucy Cruz

Furman '22

I am a female Senior Communication Studies, Media Studies major at Furman University. I am passionate about body positivity and self-love in this photoshopped world. I am also an advocate for the fight against human trafficking. My roots are in Mexico and TX, but I am living in Upstate SC.
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