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Here's How To Work Out When You're Angry And Not Break Yourself

Breathe, child.

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If you've ever been so damn mad you thought you were going to explode, you're not alone.

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With all the bullshit we're faced with each day, it's only natural that at some point we're going to be full of the type of rage that makes us want to destroy everything in our path.

But WAIT. Before you go on that rampage, we wanted to let you know that everything's going to be OK.

When life gives you anger, it's also giving you power.

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Like the power to have more focus, more attention, and more energy, as sports and performance psychologist Bhrett McCabe, PhD, tells BuzzFeed Health.

But in order to go Hulk-status without breaking anything, you're going to have to know how to channel your anger first. Here are some tips.

1. First, acknowledge why you're angry. Then make the decision to channel that rage the right way.

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You don't want to just sit and ruminate on it, because that will only make you angrier, McCabe says. But he does suggest giving yourself some time to reflect on what's pissing you off and allowing yourself to get mad — rather than just immediately distracting yourself at the gym. In a nonjudgmental way, think about what made you angry and recognize that you're having a natural emotional reaction to it, he says.

Got that? OK, now you can rage. Your strategy should be to harness all that negative energy you've built up, and turn it into determination and purpose that will help you kick ass during your workout, he says.

2. Make yourself comfortable — wherever and however you're working out.

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When you're already in a horrible mood, you may have a tendency to throw a tantrum and call it quits if one more thing doesn't go your way. So do what you can to make sure your workout is going to be as seamless and positive as possible, certified strength and conditioning specialist Albert Matheny, RD, co-owner of SoHo Strength Lab, tells BuzzFeed Health.

So maybe that means skipping your crowded gym for the park. Maybe packing a small snack and your favorite water bottle will make you happy. MAYBE none of this matters as long as you have on comfy headphones that can block everything going on outside, while playing music that gets you pumped. Do you.


3. Go in with a plan and stick to it.

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Knowing exactly what you'll do when you hit the gym will keep you on track and focused on which exercises (and how many reps) you're doing. This will help prevent injury — and the maddening frustration that comes with it, sports psychologist Sari Shepphird, PhD, tells BuzzFeed Health.

Workout plans also maximize the effort you're putting in to achieve your goals, she says. Without one, you might just end up wandering around the gym wasting time, and it probably won't feel great leaving there having done nothing. If you don't have a plan already, you can find a lot of great ones online (like this and this).

4. Definitely don't skip your warm up — no matter how much you want to get right into it.

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Those heavy weights might be calling your name, but if you skip your warm up or half-ass it, you could injure yourself.

"Sometimes when you’re in an intense mood, you take shortcuts on your warm up, or maybe you stretch too hard," Shepphird says. "People don’t realize that you really can get injured during a warm up. The last thing you want to do when you’re angry is slow down, but it’s the most important thing to do." Here's some advice on how to warm up properly.

5. Choose a fun, engaging workout.


This isn't the time to try that bootcamp class with the scream-y instructor. And it's probably not the time for leg day (unless you're someone who really really enjoys that). You want to do something that gets you excited, Erica Giovinazzo, RD, CrossFit coach and general manager of Brick L.A., tells BuzzFeed Health.

Another option is doing a workout that comes with an ~experience~, like rock climbing or indoor cycling. "SoulCycle is one of the best at it," says Matheny. "Everyone’s super nice, they’re involved, it smells good, you see your friends," and it's a high-intensity workout in a positive environment."

6. Keep the technical level of your exercises to a minimum.

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The goal here is to match your mental intensity with physical intensity, says Matheny. But at the same time, anything too technical might be dangerous if your mind is semi-occupied with other things. "So I think stuff that's routine ... where your mind can focus on just maintaining the effort rather than trying to execute a very precise [technique, are good]," he says.

So unless you've already gotten some training in something like kickboxing, it's probably best to avoid it. Instead, Matheny suggests doing something simple, like squats or slam ball. "You're basically just throwing a ball into the ground," he says.


7. Push yourself hard enough that you find yourself in ~the zone~.

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This is when you're pushing yourself almost to the max, Giovinazzo says. Your mind will be so occupied by crushing your workout that you'll actually forget you were angry — for the moment, at least.

And chances are, when you revisit the issue later, you might not be as enraged, psychologist Elizabeth Lombardo, PhD, author of Better than Perfect, tells BuzzFeed Health. When you're fuming, you can usually only see one side of things, but your workout will remove you from the situation long enough to let you cool down and think a little more rationally.

Oh, and there's also the fact that pushing yourself is how you see results; so you're going to be one step closer to reaching your goals, Giovinazzo says.

8. Don't forget to breathe.

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Before, in-between sets, and after your workout. Really focusing on your breathing will not only help you work out more effectively, but it will also help you calm down. Essentially, it helps balance the crazy intensity of your workout (and anger) with rest, Shepphird says.

9. And remember to check your form.


It's easy to forget about the details when you're angry and you get tunnel vision, Shepphird says. But if you lose focus while executing a lift or finishing a set, you could hurt yourself.

Focusing on your form also keeps you aware of your body's signals. You'll know if you're tired, thirsty, or in pain, because you're actually paying attention to what's going on, says Shepphird.

10. And finally, remember that you're working out for yourself.

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There are so many things you can choose to do when you get angry, but on this day you chose to workout. You're making moves that will impact your health in a positive way, and it's totally separate from your anger, says Matheny.

"Your workout is not for anyone else, it’s for you. And you should be happy that [you're doing something] that makes you feel better," he says.