How do I calm myself down?

I easily get annoyed and angry at almost everything. It’s getting worse everyday. I was good at hiding it before but now I can’t. I don’t want to hurt anyone. I don’t want to reach the point were I scream at anyone because I feel like I’m really close into doing that.
Asked by H

Hello H! Thank you for reaching out to BetterHelp with your question regarding anger and getting annoyed easily. 

Anger is certainly a natural human emotion; however, when it feels constant and becomes difficult to control, it may be a sign that something more is going on (such as stress or even anxiety). I want to preface this by saying that it is okay to get angry! Let's be real, life does not always happen the way that we want, and anger or irritability is a natural response. I want to offer you a few strategies that can hopefully help reduce your anger so you can feel better and more at peace.

I think a good place to start is by acknowledging when you are feeling angry. You don't have to announce that you are feeling irritable to everyone, but simply acknowledge it to yourself. Take it a step further and rate that anger on a scale of 1 to 10 when you feel it.

Once you have acknowledged that you are feeling anger and rated the intensity, then you may want to try and determine if there is a clear cause for this emotion. Sometimes it may be very obvious and at other times, you may feel frustrated without really knowing why. Taking a minute to self-reflect may help you recognize that you're stressed out, anxious, hungry, or that you haven't been spending time taking care of your mental health as you should be. If you can determine the source, you might be able to better solve the problem.

I'm going to encourage you to take a few deep breaths in the moment. I know it seems like generic advice, but it is very beneficial. Deep breathing can calm your physiological response. When your body gets calmer, your brain tends to get calmer too. Try inhaling slowly to the count of three through your nose. Hold your breath for a brief pause and then exhale slowly through your mouth. Do this 3 or so times and see if you feel better.

It's also important to reframe your negative thoughts when dealing with unpleasant feelings. If you become aware that you are thinking about an unfair situation or how much you dislike something, try to reframe it. Stick to the facts, rather than your judgments and emotions surrounding those facts. Simply asking yourself, "am I basing this thought on fact or feeling?" or "Is this thought helping me or harming me?" can be a good place to start.

I will conclude by saying that extreme anger or constant frustration can be a sign of a mental health issue, like depression, anxiety, or a mood disorder. So if this continues to linger, I will encourage you to seek professional help such as a licensed counselor or a doctor.

Remember that adding a little more self-care into your daily routine might be all it takes to bring you to a healthier state of mind.

(M.A., LPC)