Need help calming yourself down? Use these 6 easy anger management techniques next time you feel yourself getting overwhelmed.
Anger is a powerful emotion, one that can even make you feel good. While it can often get you what you want in the short term, because people will tend to back down from someone who is aggressive and openly angry, letting anger influence your actions is not a healthy, productive, or sustainable way to live. For that reason, it is important to be able to manage your anger and find ways to diffuse it. Here are 6 steps to calming yourself down when anger strikes.
Acknowledge the anger
Anger is a perfectly normal and healthy emotion to experience, so it is important not to punish yourself for feeling it. The first step to calming yourself down when you feel anger is to simply allow yourself to feel the emotion, but also separate it from your actions and not let it immediately influence how you behave.
One way of doing this can be to try and take a moment to see where in your body you feel the anger. Maybe it’s a tenseness in your neck, a rising knot in your stomach or something less immediately obvious like sweaty palms. Noticing this and then allowing yourself to feel the anger will be a useful insight for dealing with similar experiences in the future.
Use controlled breathing
Often when anger strikes, our bodies have a tendency to not allow as much oxygen into our bodies as when we are calm. A quick way to help the initial stages of anger pass is to make sure we are breathing sufficiently, and specifically, that we breath out more than we breathe in. This engages the parasympathetic nervous system and decreases the flow of adrenaline, calming you considerably.
You can experiment with particular breathing exercises and see what works best for you, but the important thing is that you are breathing in full breaths and expelling the air from your lungs completely.
Try counting exercises
Counting, be it down from 50, up to 10 or whatever number you like, is an excellent way to calm yourself down quickly. This is because the act of counting gives your brain something immediate to focus on that will distract you from the anger you are experiencing.
Combining this with deep, controlled breathing can also be very effective, as that will give your brain further distractions from your immediate anger, allowing you to avoid taking sudden or thoughtless action as a result of what you are feeling.
Remove yourself from the situation
Most situations that might contribute to the feeling of anger arising in you probably do not require immediate resolution. A sensible thing to do when you are angry in a situation involving another person is to excuse yourself and leave the office, room, or house for a short while.
If possible, do something physical in this time, like going for a run, dancing to silly music, or shouting to release some of the tension and adrenaline. This will help diffuse the anger and give you perspective on the situation from which your anger stemmed. In retrospect, it probably won’t seem as bad, and you’ll then be better able to deal with and resolve the issue.
This requires a little advanced planning, but it can be a very effective anger management strategy. Thinking of a peaceful scene that has a calming effect on you and then recalling it when anger strikes is an important step in calming yourself down.
What that scene looks like will be different for everyone, so it is worth taking some time to consider what that could be for you. Maybe it’s a favourite childhood memory of a family holiday, perhaps it’s a memorable photo of an exotic beach you long to visit, or it could be the image of a ridiculous joke a good friend told you. It doesn’t even need to be realistic, as long as it has a calming effect on you.
Listen to music
Like with visualisation, the kind of music you may choose to play to calm down will depend entirely on you: there is no right kind of music for this. Generally speaking, music provides another kind of distraction for the brain, taking your thoughts away from the anger you are experiencing and preventing you from acting on it.
Think about when you have felt the most relaxed listening to music. It could have been with something considered stereotypically relaxing like whale song, but it is more likely that you have good memories and feelings associated with a certain song, artist or genre of music that will work better for you.
These are 6 useful and immediately practical steps to calming yourself down when anger strikes. While these may be effective methods of finding a calmer place, it is also important to take time once you have calmed down to analyse and address where the anger came from, so that you can start to have a hold on it in the long term. One thing you may find particularly helpful for this is to keep an anger journal. By writing down every incidence you felt anger, you will have a record to look back through that may help you spot patterns and perhaps things to avoid going forward.