Calm Down or Get Out!

Ever find yourself getting angry at little things these days, possibly things that would never have angered you before? What is going on, why is this happening, and what can you do to stop it?

There are plenty of theories around why we are angrier than ever before - the fast-pace of life, frustration from an inability to keep up with advances, a sense of injustice, increased negative media coverage, heightened awareness of political issues, the list goes on.

For me, being a simple man, it's a no-brainer. We aren't talking enough.

Rather than talk about how we feel about something, we either express ourselves on social media or bottle it up inside. Eventually, just like a volcano that can't release a little bit of pressure from time-to-time, we erupt. And we can't stop the explosion of angry words despite hearing ourselves do it.

It is extremely important to talk to others about life's pressures, it relieves the pressure through socialisation.

If we don't talk, our brain stores the negative 'stuff' inside our brain (the hippocampus) and when we are faced with a similar issue that made us angry at another time, it releases this pent-up energy with a flurry of expletives that we can't control.

If you find yourself in a situation where you are about to explode with anger, there's a little trick I learned when undertaking crisis negotiating to keep myself calm;

  1. Take a long, deep, quiet breath - fill your lungs fully with air.
  2. Hold your breath for at least 3 seconds - this slows your heart rate.
  3. Count inside your head as you hold your breath - this overcomes the psychological response of rage by directing your thoughts back to the calmer left brain.
  4. Slowly release your breath - oxygen is released into your blood and pushes out the cortisol-infected blood which has been slowing your thought process.

If this technique doesn't work for you, walk away and come back later.

Venting is a good thing when we are angry as it alleviates the pressure and makes us feel calmer. Venting is bad for us when we take it out on someone else - it's not their fault and we will feel guilt and regret once we have calmed.

As we move into the busy season, let's talk more about our frustrations and emotions to let off some steam. Let's not take it out on those who just want to help.