Friday, May 2, 2014

Reclaiming Control of Your Temper

Have you ever thought about your anger?  About what pushes your buttons, sets you off, or really frustrates you?  I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately.  And I’m not talking about the people, and behaviors, that are likely triggers.  They will always

be there.   Instead, I’m thinking more broadly and introspectively.  I’m looking at the choices I make which set the wheels in motion for me to be more easily agitated.  Here’s what I’ve noticed:

For me, stress is a precursor to anger. 

I am calmer on days when I’m engaged in one or two long tasks rather than a dozen short ones.  I’m more easily frustrated when I’m concerned about time.  And, unfortunately, I am especially compromised when those two situations overlap, which they often do.  The more things I attempt to accomplish in a day, the more rushed and time conscious I have to be.  All of these situations cause me to feel stressed, and ultimately leave me less tolerant of the behaviors of others.

Knowing these internal triggers is helpful, but knowing what I can do about them is even better.  Here are a few things I’m trying to do to manage my stress and reclaim control of my temper – and therefore my life.

1.      Consciously plan my day and week.  I’ve realized that being booked end to end with meetings and engagements – enjoyable or not – takes a toll on me.  Especially with having two young children who require a well of my energy at the end of the day.  As a result, I’ve been pairing down my activities and commitments and am trying to be conscious of my energy levels.
2.      Limiting use of my smart phone.  Do I need to check email every 20 minutes?  No.  Especially since if it’s actually an important/business email I most likely don’t have the time or resources necessary to respond if I’m out of the office.  Using it during off hours also presents a challenge.  I need to allow myself DOWN time.
3.      Taking a walk.  Being outside, in the fresh air always rejuvenates me and builds me up.  My mood is better and of course it’s good for my body too.
4.      Saying “No”.  No to joining committees, volunteering, or participating in activities that are not deeply important to me.  As a people pleaser this is difficult – but I keep perspective by remembering that I must consciously plan my time, and that my goal of being calm and peaceful is vitally important.

While managing stress levels may not be your solution to managing your temper, I hope it encourages you to look inward and determine what situations are precursors for your own.  Learning these things about yourself is an important step to mitigating conflicts, managing mood, and maintaining healthy relationships.

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