How To Calm Down When You're Angry
Most of us have learned how to manage our negative emotions, but sometimes certain things can make us so upset, we're not sure how to deal with all the anger. Trying to determine how to act in a heated moment can be tough, so it's important to know reliable ways to calm down when you're angry. It can be tempting to lash out at the perpetrator or immediately jump into a fight, but we all know that our initial instincts are not always the best options. However, managing our anger is an important skill that can help us react with a clear head and better communicate.
"Anger can actually be rather simple to manage, once you know the basics of how and why the brain reacts to triggers via a fight or flight mode," says psychologist Helene Laurenti, PhD to Bustle over email. "Anger arises quickly and will only escalate the more we think about the trigger. You can manage anger, and the physical ramifications that follow, by managing your thoughts in that moment."
If you find your blood boils often and you don't know exactly how to handle it, consider these six ways to calm yourself down when you're feeling angry.
1. Take Deep Breaths
Taking deep, repeated breaths from the gut can help relax you, both mentally and physically. "When oxygen receptors in lungs are bathed fully in oxygen, lungs send a signal of 'safety' to the brain, 'shutting down' the amygdala," says Laurenti.
2. Take A Walk
Talking a walk will not only physically remove yourself from any upsetting situations, but it can also help increase your level of feel-good hormones. A study from the University of Georgia found that exercise can help manage negative emotions such as anger, likely because exercise can help boost serotonin in the brain.
3. Write Your Way Through It
"Journaling can be a healthy way to effectively express anger," says clinical psychologist Dr. Joel Ingersoll, PH.D, CMC over email. "Plus, you are able to identify patterns in your experience of anger." Studies from the University of California in Los Angeles found that keeping a journal can help you overcome upsetting emotions and leave you happier overall.
4. Opt For A Soothing Fragrance
Smell a fragrance such as lavender or citrus, which can help you relax and destress. "Soothing scents shut down the anger center very quickly," says Laurenti. "Keep your favorite scent in a travel lotion in your desk, car, and purse so you can inhale when needed."
5. Put On Some Music
Music can not only help you, but it can help you find a happy place and destress. If you're really feeling feisty, consider putting on some heavy metal. A recent study from Australia's University of Queensland found that listening to heavy metal music actually calms people down and increases positive emotions.
6. Don't React
It can be hard to hold back from reacting to something that pisses you off, but sometimes the answer is to just do nothing. A study from Iowa State University found that doing nothing for two minutes diminished feelings of anger more so than hitting a punching bag while thinking about the source of the person's anger.
Daily practice of these techniques at times when you are already calm will make managing your anger easier and more efficient in the moment, says Laurenti.
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