Does the heat wave have you a little hot under the collar? You’re not alone. Many people experience increases in frustration and anger when the temperatures begin to sizzle. Anger is a normal human emotion that can range from slight irritation to strong rage. With all the stress, pressures and worries of today, it may not take much to set you off or push your buttons. Unfortunately, being hot and uncomfortable usually increases the irritations and decreases your patience level for them.
Aside from the heat on your skin, exposure to hot temperatures also increases your heart rate, which leads to even more discomfort. Combine this with regular daily stresses and pressures and angry reactions become intensified. Being uncomfortable also can color the way others interpret your words and actions. A minor insult or a bump in a hot, crowded space may be perceived as a more serious offense if your level of anxiety or discomfort is already heightened.
Knowing how to recognize and tame your anger can make a big difference in your life – particularly when seasonal and biological factors are helping increase negative feelings and reactions. Here are six ways to tame your anger during the summer months and year-round.
Six Steps to Tame Your Anger
Recognize and Anticipate Your Anger
What do you notice first when you begin to feel angry? Racing heart or elevated blood pressure? Perhaps the forceful feeling of fiery words ready to jump out of your mouth? These are physical signs of anger. Pay attention to the hidden signs of anger too, like tense muscles, frustration or sarcasm. In addition, anticipate your triggers. Do crowded restaurants or long lines tend to set you off? Consider avoiding these situations and locations during the summer months, when your anger could be intensified. For example, avoid a potentially heated reaction by visiting your favorite popular, but crowded, restaurant during a less busy dinner hour.
Resist Jumping to Conclusions
Analyze your thinking for incorrect assumptions. Many times we become angry because we assume something is true when it is not. These underlying assumptions warp our thinking, yet we believe we're basing our attitudes and actions on truth. This pitfall can be particularly hard to avoid when we’re already physically uncomfortable and cranky. We may find ourselves “looking for trouble” where it doesn’t really exist. Be aware of your assumptions and perceptions.
Realize Underlying Causes
Other underlying causes can couple with discomfort from the summer temperatures to increase our irritability. Ask yourself questions about your physical condition first: Am I tired? Am I hungry? Do I feel bad physically? Then ask questions about your psychological state: Am I stressed about something else or toward someone else? Am I anxious or worried about something else? Sometimes just recognizing and confronting those causes can be enough to curb them before they feed into an angry reaction.
Stop and Think!
Don’t react! Think before you speak or act. Choose words and actions carefully. Easier said than done, but sometimes just taking a moment to think, clear our heads and calm down is all we need to keep from overreacting. As soon as you feel anger start to build, take time to calm down – and cool off, literally! Go inside, get out of the heat and separate yourself from the situation.
To calm down and give yourself a chance to rationally collect your thoughts, focus on your breathing. Count silently to ten if you need to. Sometimes taking a couple of deep breaths can slow our heart rate and help regulate our body and minds. This can be especially helpful in the summer heat.
Control the Energy of Anger
Find alternative expressions of your energy. Anger has tons of energy behind it. Finding a way to express that energy in a beneficial way is crucial. Exercise is a terrific option and a benefit to your fitness as well. Anger expressed in an unhealthy way leads to numerous health problems. Any kind of physical activity can be a great outlet for angry feelings.
In practicing how to tame your anger, it is also important to know what you can control. In truth, you can only control your response to situations and circumstances. Accept the fact that most things in the world, including the summer heat, are out of your control. All you can do is deal with things the best you can, and do your best to recognize, understand and control your own feelings and reactions.
If you or a family member is struggling with unmanageable anger issues, contact Centerstone for more information.