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How to Relieve Anger: Write And Discard

Updated: Jun 3

We all know the feeling when anger hits us: tight jaw, the urge to scream, elevated heart rate, tense muscles. While anger is both a normal human emotion and physiological reaction, understanding how to regulate it is important.


Discarded crumpled paper
Trash your anger technique

We know that punching the wall or screaming maniacally doesn't really do the job, and trying to figure out the best 'cure' for anger isn't a modern phenomenon. Way back in ancient Rome - and probably a long time before that too - the Stoic philosopher Seneca believed “my anger is likely to do me more harm than your wrong” and offered avoidance tips in his AD45 work De Ira.​ But now researchers in Japan have come up with what may be the best tip of all.


A recent study identified a powerful yet simple solution. Researchers found that writing down a reaction to a negative incident on a piece of paper and then getting rid of it - shredding or crumpling it into a ball and discarding in a trash can - helps release welling frustration. They call this “backward magical contagion.”​


“We expected that our method would suppress anger to some extent,” lead researcher Nobuyuki Kawai said in a press release. “However, we were amazed that anger was eliminated almost entirely.” He added that the method could be particularly beneficial for employees: “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.”

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