Healthy Ways to Deal With Anger

There's this Meredith Grey quote (shocker, I know) that I keep pinned up on my bulletin board. I see it everyday. It's my reminder. I read it and remember to not let my anger control me. Here's the quote:

"In life, we are taught that there are seven deadly sins. We all know the big ones––gluttony, pride, lust. But the sin you don't hear much about is anger. Maybe it's because we think anger is not that dangerous, that you can control it. My point is, maybe we don't give anger enough credit. Maybe it can be a lot more dangerous than we think. After all, when it comes to destructive behavior, it did make the top seven. So, what makes anger different from the six other deadly sins? It's pretty simple, really. You give into a sin like envy and pride and you only hurt yourself. Try lust or coveting and you'll only hurt yourself and probably one or two others. But anger? Anger is the worst. The mother of all sins. Not only can anger drive you over the edge, when it does, you can take an awful lot of other people with you."

You're probably wondering why I just threw that paragraph at you. Because it's true, for one. But also because it really puts anger in perspective, doesn't it? Go read it again. We're seeing a whole lot of anger these days. We're seeing people letting their anger control them in ways that are very dangerous. And I'm willing to bet at least one person reading this has let their anger get the best of them at least once. I know I have. So, what are some ways to control it? How can you take your anger and turn it into something positive? Something healthy? Well, I've got some tips that might just help you do that.

Take a deep breath

I don't know what else to say about that. Sometimes all you need to do is breathe through it, right? *big sigh*

Shift your anger into *constructive* action

If you're angry over the shooting epidemic in the United States, you're in the majority. But there's a difference in the person who is angry and goes on a Twitter rant and the person who is angry and registers to vote. Tweet away––I do it all the time––but don't let angry midnight tweeting be the only thing you do. It's pretty satisfying to see your anger turn into forward motion, no matter how small it may be. And it doesn't have to be on issues as massive as gun reform, it can be as simple as being angry at your boyfriend/girlfriend/partner. Take that anger, turn it into a respectful conversation, find a solution and make it happen. It's amazing how much better it makes you feel afterwards. The anger may still be there, kind of like a low burn, but you'll at least have the satisfaction of 1) doing something good, and 2) not holding in the anger until you explode and do something you're going to regret later. (I'm an expert on that.)

*Just in case you are one of the millions riled up over gun reform, here's some links I'd check out if you want to do something:

Meditate

Cheesy, right? Nope. I was very skeptical the first time someone told me to use meditation to fight anger. But you guys let me just tell you... it works. It really, really works. At least it does for me. And if you try it and it just doesn't happen, that's totally fine! These aren't universal, you've got to find what works for you. Meditation sounds simple. You just sit in silence for however long, right? Not exactly. It takes a lot of discipline, but we all have to start somewhere––if you're not someone who has ever meditated before, especially as a way to manage anger, it can be easy to stress over the act of meditating. You may feel like you're doing it wrong or that it's not working. Well, there really is no wrong way to meditate, and it will work if you let it. Your brain probably will keep going 200 miles per hour, but try your hardest to make it slow down. Play some relaxing nature sounds (Spotify has great ones!) and just breathe. The longer you sit there, the better you'll feel. If this is something you want to try, here's a nice little beginners guide you can check out!

Maybe try some yoga?

I've been doing yoga (somewhat consistently) for about two years now, and I love it. But I think a lot of people are a little confused on what it is––I get people who assume it's the same thing as meditation, (it can be a form of meditation) I get people who think it's just a hippy-dippy ab workout... I've heard it all. But you guys. There is a yoga sequence for EVERYTHING. You don't need anything to do it, either. Just your body. Yoga mats are great, but don't let not having one keep you from trying it out... I mean, you've got a floor, right? Here's one of my favorite sequences to do when I'm feeling mad about the world. 

Also falling under yoga: if it's accessible for you, go out and get your goat yoga on! I've never done it, but I know people who have and they're obsessed. (There's a place in Nashville that offers goat yoga classes!) I mean, what better way to get rid of your anger than by doing downward dog with a baby goat standing on your back?

Listen to music and dance it out

Dancing, even if you're horrible at it, is a natural mood booster. And if you're like me, dancing while knowing you look totally ridiculous makes you laugh at yourself. When I find myself angry about something trivial, this is what I usually do to deal with it. Maybe I'm mad about my service at dinner or maybe I'm mad because I spent $15 at the movie theater only to hate the movie. Minor frustrations. I guess this is a way I deal with a bad mood more than actual anger, but it happens pretty often, so I thought it deserved to be included. Because a bad mood? Those can grow into anger pretty quickly if you're not careful. But back to the music and dancing. I live at home, so I don't have roommates to deal with, which means I can blast my music as loudly as I want, but for the average college student, I'd recommend some noise canceling headphones. Put them on, find your favorite bop, turn the volume all the way up (eardrums be damned) and just dance. Dance until you're laughing too much to be mad. Dance until you're breathless. In the words of Cristina Yang, just dance it out. Shut up and dance. 

If you're angry all the time, take an exercise class!

May I recommend kickboxing? I'm serious. If you're one of those people stuck at work with a coworker (or in class with a classmate!) who just drives you insane––maybe they don't do their work, maybe they only talk about their twisted political views, or maybe they do both––this is definitely something you may want to look into. If you're a Murray State student, and I'm assuming most of you are, the Racer Wellness Center does offer a kickboxing class for free! I've never attended, but I know people who have and they never shut up about it, so it must be good. Exercise, especially when it involves kicking the crap out of something and not getting arrested for doing so, is a great way to get your anger. Plus it's good for you. It doesn't have to be kickboxing, thought! You could take a class in whatever interests you; maybe you're into racquetball or volleyball or even ping pong, but I've found that doing something that involves hitting something else (that isn't a living being) is a good way to get some anger out. 

These are just a few tips I have for releasing your anger in healthy ways. While I am by no means a professional on this topics, I've found that these things tend to work for me, and they work for me, I'm sure it'll work for some of you, too. Just remember, the anger won't last forever! 

Thumbnail image via Noah Silliman on Unsplash