Scientists reveal the surest way to stop feeling angry in stressful situations

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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Going for a run, taking a few deep breaths or even screaming into a pillow are tried and tested strategies for coping with anger.

But the best thing to do could be to write down your reaction on a piece of paper and then throw it away, according to new research.

In fact, the method is so effective it eliminated feelings of anger ‘almost entirely’, scientists found.

The team, from Nagoya University in Japan, recruited participants who were asked to write a short opinion piece on important social issues.

They were told their writing would be evaluated. Regardless of what they wrote, however, they all received insulting and negative feedback and were scored low on intelligence, interest, logic and rationality.

After receiving these negative comments, participants were asked to write down their thoughts on a piece of paper. 

The best way to deal with anger is to write down your reaction on a piece of paper and throw it away, scientists say (Stock Image)

The method is so effective it eliminated feelings of anger 'almost entirely', a study found (Stock Image)

The method is so effective it eliminated feelings of anger ‘almost entirely’, a study found (Stock Image)

One group was told to either dispose of the paper in the bin or keep it in a file on their desk. A second group was told to put the document in a shredder or in a clear plastic box.

Analysis revealed that while all reported a higher level of anger after receiving the insulting comments, participants who threw away or shredded their written thoughts quickly returned to their initial state of calm.

Meanwhile, the participants who held on to a hard copy of the insult experienced only a small decrease in their overall anger.

Lead researcher Nobuyuki Kawai said: ‘We expected that our method would suppress anger to some extent.

‘However, we were amazed that anger was eliminated almost entirely.’

The findings, published in the journal Scientific Reports, build on previous work showing how interactions with physical objects can control a person’s mood.

The team said their research could help office workers who find themselves in stressful situations.

‘This technique could be applied in the moment by writing down the source of anger as if taking a memo and then throwing it away when one feels angry in a business situation,’ Mr Kawai said.

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