Do these effective methods to manage your anger and skip those that don't

  • Living
  • Monday, 27 May 2024

Does it help to just shout it all out? A new study on anger management says no. — dpa

ANGER is an emotion with its own mind: Impossible to predict when it will hit us, it’s tricky to control when it does.

But according to a recent study, there’s some things that are more helpful than others if you want to calm down again.

You might be surprised to learn that some commonplace anger management techniques actually have an adverse effect, the authors found.

For the study, called “A meta-analytic review of anger management activities that increase or decrease arousal: What fuels or douses rage?”, the researchers analysed 154 studies looking at the impact of different activities which increase physiological arousal on anger and aggression.

They found that “chilling out rather than blowing off steam is a better way to manage anger,” as study authors Sophie L Kjaervik and Brad Bushman write in the scientific journal The Conversation.

Here’s a look at what helps – and what doesn’t – to manage your anger.

Anger management activities that work

According to the study, that’s mainly activities which decrease arousal. They were found to effectively contribute to controlling and decreasing anger and aggressive impulses.

1. Deep breathing and relaxation exercises

Deep breathing and targeted relaxation exercises can calm the body and relax the mind. Studies show that these techniques are effective in lowering the level of arousal and thus cooling down anger.

2. Meditation and mindfulness

Regular meditation and mindfulness exercises can help you deal better with stressful situations and control emotional reactions such as anger. These practices not only reduce stress levels, but also improve overall emotional balance.

3. Yoga

Yoga combines physical poses, breathing techniques and meditation to promote holistic relaxation. It is particularly effective in reducing anger as it helps to calm both the body and the mind.

According to the researchers, these activities worked in a variety of settings, including in the lab and in real-life situations, both offline and online, and in both group and individual sessions. What’s more, they were effective across many demographics and with participants of different genders, backgrounds, ages and countries.

Anger management activities that don’t work

Activities increasing arousal, whether they are “aggressive in nature” like kickboxing or “nonagressive” like cycling or running, often don’t help to reduce anger, according to the study.

1. Aggressively releasing anger

Acting out your anger, for example by shouting or hitting objects, is a widely used technique, but according to the authors, studies have shown that it often does not alleviate anger. In fact, it often intensifies the feeling of anger.

2. Repetitive exercise

Although running and other intense physical activities are generally very healthy, they only provide short-term distraction from anger, but they do not reduce the emotional arousal associated with the emotion, according to the analysis.

Jogging in particular was found to elevate anger. According to the authors, “This may be because jogging involves repetitive movements, which can be monotonous and lead to boredom or frustration, increasing the likelihood of experiencing anger.”

Ball sports, physical education classes and aerobics, on the other hand, were found to decrease anger, possibly “because both ball sports and physical education classes include play, which elicit positive emotions,” the authors write. – dpa

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