Anger can be helpful. For example, it can help us understand that we need to back away from a person or a situation. Conversely, anger can be problematic when it's disproportionate and uncontrolled. This leads to negative emotional and physical consequences like anxiety, headaches, and high blood pressure.
Pausing before responding is an effective anger management tool. When you pause before you respond, things de-escalate. For the most benefit, try using the pause in a meaningful way. Specifically, during the pause take time to:
Map out options
Make a plan
Teaching Example: Something Wilder by Christina Lauren
Lily hated everything about her dad’s career as a treasure hunter, most overwhelmingly that he prioritized it over her. And yet, when Lily ran out of options, she started a treasure-hunting travel company. It’s not going great. She has $300 to her name, hates her day-to-day life, and is alone but for one friend. Lily is frequently mad. But she’s livid when the only man she ever loved – who unceremoniously ghosted her – ends up on one of her tours.
Applying the Skills
Lily could greatly benefit from pausing before responding. Notably, primarily because Lily already uses this skill in other parts of her life, so it should be relatively easy to cross-apply. Before Lily crosses a rushing river or scales a boulder, she stops, considers the variables, maps out options, makes a plan, and executes it. She needs to apply those skills the second her anger is either outsized or leads her toward negative consequences. If Lily pauses before responding, she may find that situations don’t escalate quite so quickly, which would decrease her anger long term.
Lily could and should still get her heart rate up, but through healthy activities like scaling mountains.