Anger is one of the most commonly experienced emotions. It can manifest in both healthy and unhealthy ways. Rage, however, is a more intense form of anger that is often associated with destructive, out of control behavior. If you’re enraged, you might explode and lash out at others or coldly withdraw and repress your emotions. Such behavior can ruin your professional and personal relationships, so deal with rage by finding healthy outlets for your anger, dealing with the source of the problem, and getting support from others.
EditLetting Go of Your Rage
- Take deep breaths. Deep breathing is a great exercise to make use of when you’re feeling rage. It allows you to slow down and regain control of your thoughts and emotions as well as the situation itself. Do several cycles of deep breathing until you feel calmer.
- Try pulling in deep breaths from your diaphragm. Inhale and watch your belly expand. Exhale and watch it deflate. With each inhale, imagine yourself being filled with calm energy. With each exhale, envision the rage being expelled from your body.
- Relieve tension with progressive muscle relaxation. Rage can cause extreme physical tension in your body, which can actually lead to injury. Progressive muscle relaxation is a useful exercise for easing this tension.
- Take deep, calming breaths. Start at your toes and work your way up through your body, gradually contracting and relaxing each muscle group. For instance, you might tense your toes up and notice what that feels like for a few seconds. Then, release the tension and notice what that feels like before moving to a new muscle group.
- This technique also helps you become more aware of the experience of holding tension in your body. In the future, when you feel that tension, you’ll know how to relax your muscles.
- Journal. Aggressive actions like punching, throwing something, or yelling don’t always lead to catharsis. Why? Because you haven’t actually addressed the thing that’s making you feel enraged. Writing in a journal is one of the best ways to do this.
- Start a rage journal in which you regularly jot down all the people or situations that rub you the wrong way. Describe everything in as much detail as you can.
- Once you’ve let off some steam, go back and re-read what you wrote. You might decide to go ahead and rip the paper to pieces. You might also decide to brainstorm some ways to actively problem-solve the situations that make you so angry.
EditActing on Your Rage Safely
- Scream out your frustration. Turning your anger inward can lead to serious health problems and letting it out by yelling at your loved ones can ruin your relationships. A better alternative is to let it out with a mighty scream.
- Get in your car and yell to the top of your lungs. Or, briefly shout into a pillow to let it all out.
- Throw or break something. Whether you’re feeling hot (lashing out and shouting) or cold (repressed and withdrawn) rage, a great way to release your anger is by destroying something–in an appropriate way, of course. Go to a “rage room,” if there’s one in your area.
- Rage rooms provide a safe environment for you to smash and throw things and burn off steam.
- If you can’t locate a rage room nearby, buy a stack of cheap plates at the dollar store, go to a contained area like a garage, and throw them at the wall. Feels good, huh?
- Have a go at a punching bag. Aggressive outlets aren’t the best way to channel your rage. Still, punching a bag is much more constructive than punching a wall or someone’s face. Go to a nearby gym and have a turn at the punching bag. Or, shadow box by punching the air in front of you.
- While you’re angry, avoid boxing with an actual human, as your anger may cause you to do more damage than intended.
EditFinding Practical Solutions
- Know your triggers. In order to truly deal with your rage you must be able to recognize what rage feels like and what situations tend to cause it. The next time you feel rage, take a moment to observe what’s happening in your body. Also, take note of what stimulated this feeling.
- For example, you notice you’ve clenched your jaw really tight and your head starts pounding. This occurred after you were cut off in traffic.
- Brainstorm solutions for triggering events. Deal with your rage by problem-solving ways you can avoid or better cope with your triggers. Create a specific plan of action that allows you to improve how you handle these situations.
- For instance, if terrible traffic leads to rage, head out early to avoid traffic.
- If flustered, over-worked cashiers tick you off, try to shop during quieter, off hours.
- If your roommate’s messy bedroom bugs you, avoid going in there so you can stay calm.
- Learn to say ‘no” when you’re overwhelmed or stressed. If you’re experiencing cold rage from having repressed your anger, you might benefit from some assertiveness training. Learn to speak up for yourself respectfully and with tact. If people are asking too much of you, say so.
- For instance, if your boss keeps dropping more work on your desk before you’ve finished your current projects, your temper may flare. Instead of holding it in, meet with your boss one-on-one and express your frustration. Say something like, “You’re giving me more work than I can handle right now. I’m trying to focus my efforts on the upcoming briefing. Can I delegate some of these assignments to Jenny?”
- Change your language. The words you use can impact your emotions. Strong, absolute words like “never” or “always” don’t leave any room for exceptions, so they hinder problem-solving. Drop these terms from your vocabulary and see if it has a positive effect on your mood.
- Tell people what you need using “I” statements. Rage can remove all filters in conversation to the point that you’re criticizing and insulting people right and left. To avoid this, assert yourself with specific “I” statements. This limits blaming and criticizing, but still helps you get your point across.
- For example, if you’re struggling to contain rage at an insensitive partner, express your needs with an “I” statement like, “I feel ignored and misunderstood when you minimize my anxiety.”
- Try therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, has been proven to help people with chronic anger issues. Your CBT therapist will work with your one-on-one to develop better strategies for dealing with anger, such as changing your thought patterns and learning to be more assertive.
- Ask your family physician for a referral if you would like to talk to a therapist.
- Join an anger management support group. Many communities offer special programs to teach anger management skills. You might learn practical skills in a group setting or share your unique struggles with rage with others. Programs may be offered by hospitals, clinics, or churches in your community.
- You might also connect with others who have rage issues online by searching for support groups on websites like Psychology Today.
- Consider if you have intermittent explosive disorder. IED is a behavioral disorder classified by extreme bouts of rage. These episodes may involve impulsive or violent acts that occur with little or no apparent trigger. IED is more common in younger people and males. See a psychologist or psychiatrist for an evaluation, if you regularly experience sudden bouts of rage.
- Treatment for intermittent explosive disorder typically includes a combination of medication and psychotherapy to help gain control of rage.