The Anger Detox Plan

Get a handle on your anger and keep calm with this plan to help you defuse any situation.

Posted on | By Sue Varma, MD
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How to Do an Anger Cleanse (2:23)

When plans go awry, it’s easy to lose our cool. We have so many balls in the air that when we drop just one, it feels like we’ve lost control. For many of us, the anxiety that comes along with change or lack of control manifests itself in anger.

Make a List of Your Anger Triggers

Make a list of all your anger triggers for one week. Once you do this, you can plan for the worst-case scenario. It doesn’t mean everything will go perfectly, but it’s about minimizing the chance for anger. This plan starts with preventing the anger before it hits.

For example, if you get road rage every time you drive down a certain road, change your route. If one of your kids always seems to spill his juice in the morning, put a mat down. If your husband always misplaces his keys, which then makes the family late to work/school, set everything out the night before.

How to Deal in the Midst of Anger

This is all about finding perspective. You’re putting your body under a lot of physical and emotional stress when you get angry and a lot of the time it isn’t worth it. When you are red-in-the-face angry that your husband left out another pair of dirty socks, you need to stop and ask yourself, “Will this matter in five years?” If your husband had an affair, that would be a different story. You have to learn how to pick and choose your battles.

Do a cost-benefit analysis. Will your temper just serve to alienate the person? If so, can you table it until you are calmer?

Coping After the Outburst

Just like you’d feel after bingeing on a family-size bag of chips, when you binge on anger, remorse is often quick to follow. There are two things that we need to do to move forward:

1. If your anger has boiled over, the most important thing is to own up to what you’ve done -- apologize! But just because you overreacted doesn’t mean your opinion is no longer valid. It’s important once you calm down to find an effective way to communicate.

2. Limit yourself to “I” statements such as, “I am upset because I felt disrespected.” When you use “I” instead of “you,” you’re avoiding being overly critical or trying to place blame, which can be an easy way for things to escalate again.

Cleanse Your Anger

There are always going to be inconsiderate people. There are going to be moments motherhood is the worst job on the planet and your husband is the dumbest man on the planet; it’s ridiculous to expect different. When these moments pop up, it’s time for a cleanse. An anger cleanse is all about prepping your body to be better equipped to handle stress in ways other than anger. This starts with self-care -- especially sleep! We all know we’re more likely to snap when we are tired. Make sure to also factor an hour a week in for some personal time. This is a time where I want you to do something for just you. Read a book, get your nails done and let your husband watch your kids for this hour. Remember that it’s hard to find compassion to give to others when you aren’t giving any to yourself.

Article written by Sue Varma, MD