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5 healthier ways to deal with anger instead of venting

Venting your anger can make you more stressed out -- do these things instead

Frustrated Young Man Screaming While Using Laptop

When something makes you frustrated, sometimes you just want to scream.

Richard Theis/Getty

We've all done it. Someone makes us angry and frustrated, and we run to a good friend to vent. Ranting about something unfair that's been done to us simply feels good, so it must be good for us, right? 

Actually, it turns out that the concept of venting as an effective anger management strategy is bunk. It makes us even more upset and forces us to play the victim role. Luckily, there are several methods that work much better than venting, so you can work toward being able to control your frustration more easily. 

Why venting will make you even angrier

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Venting to friends feels good, but it's only making you more upset.

Getty Images

The concept of venting was originally based on a Freudian theory that anger operates like a hydraulic press -- left unreleased, it builds and builds until it bursts. Freud and other psychologists recommended a cathartic approach, where people act out their anger physically or verbally whenever it comes up in order to avoid major outbursts.

Since the time of Freud, a wealth of research has been published debunking his theories of anger management. Today, modern psychologists focus on a neoassociation theory, which says that the more we talk about, think about, and look at things that make us angry, the angrier we feel. Venting is essentially rehashing our anger and frustration, and thus it would make sense that ranting about something that made us angry would only make our anger worse.

Numerous studies have backed up this theory, showing that venting is simply a means of practicing anger, and doesn't do anything to actually address it.

How venting can make you play the victim role

Whenever we vent to a friend or family member, we choose someone we know will support us and believe our side of the story. Sometimes they can egg us on, even insulting the offender and helping us ruminate on our anger. The problem is, this reaction only reinforces our narrative that we're in the right and the person who made us angry is in the wrong.

Over time, venting to a friend leads us to see ourselves as victims in every situation that makes us angry. Someone that loves and supports you probably isn't going to help you see how you contributed to the conflict, and if you have a person like this in your life, they aren't going to be the one you go to when you want to rant. So, venting can create a lack of accountability and an unwillingness to be proactive when in disagreement in others.

Five ways to deal with anger instead

Don't get me wrong -- anger is a completely natural and healthy emotion, and you should never try to suppress or ignore your feelings. However, there are far healthier ways to do so than ranting to a friend. Choose a strategy that works best for your personality and lifestyle, and begin to enjoy a less angry lifestyle.

1. Meditate

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Ommmm. That's the sound of your anger releasing itself.

Ksenia Makagonova/Unsplash

Mindfulness meditation can help you become aware of emotions like anger. If you practice the skill, you will be able to simply note that you are feeling frustrated and move on instead of feeling consumed and overwhelmed by the emotion. Even just one session of meditation has been shown to reduce anger in inexperienced meditators.

There are a bunch of great meditation apps available so that you can be mindful on the go, and once you get the hang of the technique you can meditate anywhere, anytime. 

2. Take deep breaths

You might've heard the age old advice to take deep breaths and count to ten when you're angry, and researchers agree that this relaxation technique is an effective way to dissipate anger quickly. Plus, when someone makes you angry, pausing to calm down for just a few seconds can help you not say something you'll regret later.  

3. Talk to a therapist or a neutral person

amwell online therapy

Talk to a therapist to work through your emotions, rather than venting to friends or family.

Amwell

While venting is not the way to go, sometimes you need to get a frustrating experience off of your chest. If that's the case, talking to a therapist or a third party you know will stay neutral can be beneficial.

They can help you see the situation in a new light, and provide a supportive ear to listen to your troubles. Just make sure you choose someone who won't egg you on, and try not to rehash your anger while talking to them.

Read more: How to find an online therapist

4. Be proactive

When it feels physically and emotionally safe to do so, you can try to address the source of the anger-inducing problem. If it's the coworker who eats loudly right behind you, you could try kindly asking them to enjoy their lunch in the break room. If you have a friend who continually cancels on you at the last minute, you can tell them how disrespected that makes you feel. 

If you find that you're in a relationship with someone, romantic or otherwise, that's only giving you stress, anger and frustration, you may find it healthier to cut ties and move on from that source of negativity in your life. 

5. Exercise

Exercise bike cardio workout at fitness gym of woman taking weight loss with machine aerobic for slim and firm healthy in the morning.

A good option is to go to a spin class, and with each pedal stroke envision yourself getting fitter and stronger.

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Working out to deal with anger is a tricky one. Personally, I know that I feel better after a long walk when something upsets me, but try not to choose a workout where you are channeling your aggression into something else. 

Heading to the gym to lift weights is a great way to deal with anger, but focus your session on a positive outcome -- hitting a personal record, feeling strong or completing your sets. Don't envision yourself hurting someone, or do anything like using a punching bag to stand in for their face. This is just a physical manifestation of venting.


The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.