Imagine this scenario: You're stuck in traffic on the freeway, crawling toward an exit that seems impossibly far away. Suddenly the car in front of you stops and lets a few other vehicles with their blinkers on into your lane. Do you a) shrug and figure that everyone else on the freeway has someplace to be, just as you do, or b) start yelling and cursing the driver in front of you, perhaps leaning on your horn for emphasis?

If you answered b, you may have a problem taming your temper. While anger is a legitimate emotion, not every situation calls for it. People who fly off the handle over small issues make others uncomfortable and set the stage for relationship problems, whether with a spouse, a child or a boss. The next time you feel your blood boiling, try one (or a few!) of these strategies and see if you can calm yourself before things get out of hand:

  • Get some space. Have you ever given your child a time-out? It's time to give yourself a time-out when you feel your blood pressure rising and your temper rearing its head. Count to 10 before you do or say anything. Leave the room if you can, or just turn away from the person or situation that's making you angry.
  • Consider your words. Are they fair? Or will they come across as a childish outburst? Try writing your thoughts down before you say them to see how they sound on paper. Writing down what you plan to say or do also will help you stay on target and not get sidetracked by your frustration.
  • Lighten up. Using humor can defuse even the tensest of situations. Just be careful you don't veer into sarcasm, which can make things worse.
  • Avoid blame. Practice starting your sentences with "I feel..." "I feel neglected when you ignore me to watch the playoffs" is a lot more effective than "You do nothing on weekends but watch that stupid TV!" Focus on solving the problem rather than doling out guilt. Tell your husband, "Can we shut the TV at 5:00? I'd really like us to take a walk together then."
  • Have coping skills. It's inevitable: Your kindergartner will spill his chocolate milk all over himself-and you-on the one morning you've got to be out the door early. Deep breathing or a calming phrase that you repeat to yourself can help you avoid losing your temper. Have your own arsenal of de-stressing skills on hand to turn to when a situation threatens to push you over the brink.


Source: Mayo Clinic,