6 Ways to Channel Your Anger Into Something Positive Right Now
Feeling angry about the state of the world? Here’s how to make that anger work for you (and others).
Right now, anger seems to be spilling over everywhere, from protests in the streets to battles of words on social media, debates about opening schools, and rage over everything that coronavirus has wrought. If it feels like your temper is always running hot these days, you’re not alone.
Most of this anger comes from feeling out of control, according to Jenny Yip, PsyD, ABPP. “When we feel anxious and angry, it’s often because we’re feeling like we’re stuck and there’s no solution,” she says. “With all the uncertainty, and a lot of injustice that’s occurring, there are a lot of reasons for people to be angry right now.”
But being angry all the time isn’t healthy for you, or the people around you.
“If your anger is just pent up, with no healthy outlet for it, it’s going to be directed to innocent people and innocent situations,” Dr. Yip says. “You have to be able to manage your anger in a healthy way.”
To start, step away from your computer, put down that bottle of rosé, and look for healthier ways to channel your anger, starting with the below ideas.
Sometimes, when you’re in the thick of your feelings, it can be hard to get perspective on what’s happening and why you’re angry—and that’s when it’s good to take a step back. “When you’re angry, you’re just seeing that red bullseye,” Dr. Yip says. “You need to zoom off of that to be able to get perspective.”
Take a look at the source of your anger from multiple angles, to see if there’s a way to help change things for the better. An example from Dr. Yip: the college students who rented their own group apartments when their schools went virtual in order to still get a bit of that college experience. “If we are able to think outside the box and find healthy solutions, that will help us feel less stuck,” she says.
There’s a sound reason people recommend breathing when you’re mad. “When you’re feeling angry, your body’s fight or flight response is triggered, and you’re not getting enough oxygen into your body,” Dr. Yip says. “Try some breathing exercises or meditation to help.” Deep breathing can help stop the stress response.
We’re not talking about arguing with your cousin on Facebook. But writing to your representatives about your concerns, volunteering for a candidate, or simply joining a grassroots organization to help get out the vote may help you use your energy toward the change you want.
Chatting with like-minded friends and loved ones about your feelings can help you release some steam. “You’ll have to be careful who you’re speaking with—choose someone useful,” Dr. Yip says. “If you’re on social media arguing with other people, you’re just adding fuel to your anger.”
We’ve all become pretty good at finding distractions these days. But if all else fails, finding another avenue to channel your energy can take your mind off of what’s making you mad. Taking a walk, starting a new hobby, exercising, losing yourself in a good book—as long as it takes your mind off of your problem for a while, it can help you bring your anger under control.