You can feel something building in your chest, the anger. It could be that noisy neighbour, an argument on hold or just a general feeling of irritability that has come out of nowhere. When the stress or anger starts to build it feels like there is no stopping it. It is almost controlling you as it gets worse and you can feel it in all of your body. Then some time passes, you calm down, and get on with your day.
When you think back on a specific moment like this, you can do so with a clear head. You may have had a heated argument with a partner and then looked back together and made a joke about it. Could you joke at the time? Oh no! At the time you was on an anger train. That’s what it feels like, a fast ride out of control going only in one direction. But what if you could step back and take a look at yourself and how you’re feeling during this moment?
Be in your mind, not your brain
Think of yourself as two people, your mind and your body. At any time you can observe your body as another entity, just in your mind. Try it now, just move your arms or something and imagine it as if your are watching another part of yourself. Your brain is mechanical, your mind is your consciousness. When you get angry, its a physical reaction, it’s your brain deciding to take over from your mind. Deciding to take a step back and observe your body is you mind being in control. If you let your body take over, you literally ‘lose your mind’.
It’s one thing to say, ‘take a step back’, but how? I’ve found the best way to extinguish the ball or stress or anger that starts in the chest is to take a really deep breath. This may sound like the most obvious advice but it actually works. Smokers think that that first puff of a cigarette is relaxing because of the nicotine. It is actually the large amount of oxygen they inhale that gives them that instant relaxation. Try it now, just take a big breath and you will feel great. Use this technique not only as a way to stop stress from building, but also at random points just to give yourself an extra relaxing boost even when you don’t think you need it.
Is it really worth it?
When you feel like sending that angry text after someone has angered you, just ask yourself, ‘is it really worth it?’. It feels good at the time because you just want a release from feeling uncomfortable but in the end its just going to cause more time out of your life spent dealing with something that its absolutely pointless. Your time should be special, don’t waste it with negative actions. Rise above it, step back into your mind, and breathe.
Realise when stress is coming
We’ve all been there, suddenly on a angry rampage or in an intense stressful thinking session. Notice the early signs, the uncomfortable physical feeling, thinking about something negative, being distracted from what you’re doing etc. When you can pick up on the early signals that you will probably be very stressed or angry within the next few minutes, its much easier to stop it from happening by using the techniques in this post. If anything, just switch your thinking to something else. Sometimes just acknowledging to yourself that you are getting stressed is enough to stop it escalating.
I like to keep a mental list of a few things that I’m enjoying at the moment. Writing this blog, travelling with my partner, actually sticking to a good diet and exercise routine. When I’m having an off moment, I think about these things and remember that the good things in my life are the things I should be paying the most energy to.
Don’t wonder off into your mechanical brain when it takes over. Snap yourself back to a few inches in front of your face, look at the air in front of you and bring your mind back to the present moment. Now, think about what’s happening and how you can prevent yourself going off on a mental rampage. When you are back to normal, trying and ‘bookmark’ this feeling and moment and next time you snap yourself back to the present, go back to this ‘bookmark’, make it stronger every time.
You will not die
Eventually you will die. Will it be from whatever is causing you stress or anger? No. Is the stress or anger worse than dying? No. Next time work is stressing your out just think ‘Well, if I get this wrong, at least I’m not going to die.’ When it all comes down to it, you can still close your eyes and you will be in the exact same place as in any other situation, in the dark with yourself. Nothing on the outside changes how you feel. How you feel in this moment is up to you.