Below are 15 ways to calm yourself down when feeling angry:
Breathing is the number one and most effective technique for reducing anger quickly. When you’re angry you tend to take quick, shallow breaths. This sends a message to your brain, causing a positive feedback loop reinforcing your fight-or-flight response. That’s why taking long, deep calming breaths disrupts that loop and helps you calm down.
There are various breathing techniques to help you calm down. One is three-part breathing. Three-part breathing requires you to take one deep breath in and then exhale fully while paying attention to your body. Once you get comfortable with deep breathing, you can change the ratio of inhalation and exhalation to 1:2 (you slow down your exhalation so that it’s twice as long as your inhalation).
Admit you are angry
Allow yourself to say that you’re angry. When you label how you’re feeling and allow yourself to express it, the anger you’re experiencing may decrease.
Challenge your thoughts
Part of being angry is having irrational thoughts that don’t necessarily make sense. These thoughts are often the “worse-case scenario.” You might find yourself caught in the “what if” cycle, which can cause you to sabotage a lot of things in your life. When you experience one of these thoughts, stop and ask yourself the following questions:
- Is this likely to happen?
- Is this a rational thought?
- Has this ever happened to me before?
- What’s the worst that can happen? Can I handle
After you go through the questions, it’s time to reframe your thinking.
Realease your anger
Get the emotional energy out with exercise. Go for a walk or run. Engaging in some physical activity releases serotonin to help you calm down and feel better.
Visualize yourself calm
This tip requires you to practice the breathing techniques you’ve learned. After taking a few deep breaths, close your eyes and picture yourself calm. See your body relaxed and imagine yourself working through a stressful situation by staying calm and focused.
Think it through
Have a mantra to use in critical situations. It can be, “Will this matter to me this time next week?” or “How important is this?” or “Am I going to allow this person/situation to steal my peace?” This allows the thinking to shift focus, and you can “reality test” the situation. When we’re anxious or angry, we become hyper-focused on the cause, and rational thoughts leave our mind. These mantras give us an opportunity to allow rational thought to come back and lead to a better outcome.
Listen to music
The next time you feel angry listen to your favourite music. Listening to music can have a very calming effect on your body and mind.
Change your focus
Leave the situation, look in another direction, walk out of the room, or go outside. This will allow you time for better decision making. We don’t do our best thinking when angry; we engage in survival thinking. This is fine if our life is really in danger, but if it isn’t life threatening, we want our best thinking, not survival instincts.
Relax your body
When you’re angry it can feel like every muscle in your body is tense (and they probably are). Practicing progressive muscle relaxation can help you calm down and centre yourself. To do this, lie down on the floor with your arms out by your side. Make sure your feet aren’t crossed and your hands aren’t in fists. Start at your toes and tell yourself to release them. Slowly move up your body, telling yourself to release each part of your body until you get to your head.
Write it down
If you’re too angry to talk about it, grab a journal and write out your thoughts. Don’t worry about complete sentences or punctuation — just write. Writing helps you get negative thoughts out of your head. You can take it one step further and make an action plan to continue staying calm once you’re done writing.
Get some fresh air
The temperature and air circulation in a room can increase your anger. If you’re feeling tense and the space you’re in is hot and stuffy, this could trigger panic. Remove yourself from that environment as soon as possible and go outside — even if it’s just for a few minutes. Not only will the fresh air help calm you down, but also the change of scenery can sometimes interrupt your angry thought process.
Fuel your body
If you’re hungry or not properly hydrated, many of these techniques won’t work. That’s why it’s important to slow down and get something to eat — even if it’s just a small snack.
Drop your shoulders
If your body is tense, there’s a good chance your posture will suffer. Sit up tall, take a deep breath and drop your shoulders. To do this, you can focus on bringing your shoulder blades together and then down. This pulls your shoulders down. Take a few deep breaths. You can do this several times a day.
Have a centering object
When you’re angry, so much of your energy is being spent on irrational thoughts. When you’re calm, find a “centering object” such as a small stuffed animal, a polished rock you keep in your pocket, or a locket you wear around your neck. Tell yourself that you’re going to touch this object when you’re experiencing anxiety or frustration. This centers you and helps calm your thoughts. For example, if you’re at work and your boss is making you angry, gently rub the locket around your neck.
Identify pressure points
This method involves putting pressure with your fingers or your hand at certain points of the body. The pressure releases the tension and relaxes your body. One area to start with is the point where the inside of your wrist forms a crease with your hand. Press your thumb on this area for two minutes. This can help relieve tension.