10 Commandments of Taming Your Temper

Being caught in a traffic jam, arguing with your spouse about last month’s credit card bill, losing a coveted business account to a competitor: there are many situations that can cause you to fly off the handle. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Anger management tipsPhoto: Shutterstock

How to Get Your Emotions Under Control

Be aware that poorly managed anger can damage your health, work and relationships. Here are ten helpful tips:

  1. Exercise: Physical exertion can help for brief, short-term anger, says Dr. Sarah Edelman, psychologist and author of Change Your Thinking.
  2. Write a Letter: Explain your anger in words—you don’t have to send it.
  3. Cool Off: “In an acute angry stage, it’s a good idea not to confront the person straightaway,” says Edelman. Instead, take some time to allow yourself to calm down and think in a more rational manner.
  4. Don’t Throw a Tantrum: “It’s a popular myth that venting anger is always the best strategy,” says Edelman. “Venting can cause more problems than it solves. It can impair good relationships and it’s not good role-modelling for kids.”
  5. Communicate: Slow down and think about what you want to say. Explain that you feel angry about something rather than acting aggressively. Listen carefully to the other person before you respond.
  6. Use Humour: If you think of a co-worker as a “dirt bag,” visualize them as a bag of dirt going about their day. (These jokes can diffuse awkward situations at work.)
  7. Seek Alternatives: If the daily commute provokes uncontrollable road rage, consider different transport forms or a job closer to home.
  8. Weigh the Pros and Cons: Ask yourself, “Is the anger achieving anything, or is it just hurting me?” Edelman warns, “Some people are reluctant to let anger go because they see that as a victory to the other person.”
  9. Use Problem-Solving Skills: Ask yourself, “Is there anything I can do about this problem?” If not, move on.
  10. Accept the Situation: Recognize that some things in life just aren’t fair. “Sometimes we have to accept that injustice is a part of life,” Edelman says.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest Canada

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