How To Calm Down When You’re Really Really Angry (+ 7 Things NOT To Do)

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Anger is a natural human emotion, but it can be a problematic one.

Although it can sometimes be a great fuel, driving you forward to make positive changes and achieve new things, you rarely make good decisions when you’re seeing the world through a red mist.

It’s only when you calm down enough to see clearly and channel your rage positively that it does you any good.

Being able to dominate your anger, rather than letting it dominate you, is vital.

Anger only makes you waste time that you could use to rectify the situation that’s sparked your rage in the first place.

Whilst it’s good to vent and express your emotions, temper tantrums are rarely helpful to anyone, and should be left to toddlers. 

With that in mind, it’s important to have some tricks up your sleeve that you can turn to when you feel anger rising up.

These tricks can prevent anger from taking over, bringing you back to a more rational state of mind in which you can make sound, sensible decisions.

We’ll discuss some things you really shouldn’t do when angry later in the article.

For now, here are 9 anger management tips you can try.

1. Breathe

It’s been said a million times, I know. But bear with me…

It’s amazing how easy it is to forget to do something as simple and instinctive as breathing when you get angry.

As soon as the red mist starts coming down, turn your focus to your breathing.

Concentrate on taking deep breaths, in and out, feeling your chest rise and fall. This means you can’t focus entirely on whatever it is that’s made you angry.

Fill your lungs to the brim and then empty them slowly, and repeat for as long as necessary.

This helps combat the tension in your body when you’re angry. It gives your brain something else to do rather than replay events in your mind over and over. 

2. Recognize Your Anger As A Fleeting Emotion

Always remember that, however strong the emotions are that you’re experiencing right now, they will pass.

They do not define you.

Remind yourself that you can dominate and control your anger, and you are not dominated by it.

You are in control of your mind and your emotions; they’re not in control of you.

3. Remove Yourself From The Situation

If possible, take five. Go outside or go into the next room.

…just put a little space between you and the thing or person that has made you angry.

If you can, take a short walk around the block or around the park.

It’s amazing what a difference just a small change of scenery or environment – or the tiniest bit of distance – can make.

4. Get It Off Your Chest

Bottling up your frustration is never healthy, so make sure you express how it is you’re feeling in some way, shape, or form.

Call a friend, your partner, or even your mother to talk about the situation. Or, if you prefer to keep it to yourself, write it down.

You’ll find that verbalizing exactly what you’re feeling is essential for putting things into perspective.

If you do choose to share it with someone, try not to raise your voice, but explain things as calmly as possible.

And don’t share it with more than one or two people. You want to get it off your chest, not let it affect you again and again as you retell the story.

Talking about it will help you put your finger on exactly why you’re feeling so angry in this particular situation.

This can help you find a solution, or mean you learn from the situation and don’t become so angry next time around.

5. Listen To Calming Music

Lie back and relax if you can, or just plug those headphones in and play a relaxing track or two if it helps.

Music can have a phenomenal effect on our moods, especially when our emotions are running high.

You might already have a song that never fails to calm you down, but, if not, classical music and jazz are always great places to start.

I find film soundtracks to be especially good for helping me rid myself of anger.

6. Stretch, Dance, Work Out…

Exercise is incredible for anger.

Put on your running shoes and pound the pavement, or do 10 minutes of yoga. Anything physical will help to diffuse your feelings.

It’s difficult to stay angry whilst you’re exercising, and it can remind you of your own power and capabilities.

Dancing is a particularly great way to cool off, especially if you don’t have time for a full exercise session.

Just put on your favorite song and dance around the room, preferably singing at the top of your voice.

It’s a wonderful distraction that gives you a chance to cool down.

7. Count Backwards From 100

Sometimes, you need to give your brain another task to focus on in order to give your body a chance to calm down.

Counting backwards from 100 will occupy your brain for the best part of two minutes.

…two minutes of peace.

Count aloud, or just whisper it to yourself.

8. Visualize Your Happy Place

Some people find that the most effective way of calming down is to summon up a memory of somewhere peaceful. Somewhere you were happy.

Close your eyes and visualize that spot, whether it’s a mountain top or an empty beach.

Or just invent your ideal landscape, adding in the little details as you go, down to the color of the flowers.

Natural scenery is always the best to calm you down.

9. Check Your Language

When you’re angry, it’s very tempting to see everything in black and white, but it’s not helpful.

When you’ve got an inner monologue going on or are venting to someone else, make sure you remember to see things in shades of gray.

Sure, sometimes life is unfair and sometimes people do bad things, but the words ‘always’ and ‘never’ aren’t going to help you.

Catch yourself every time you say them so you don’t end up convincing yourself that the situation is worse than it actually is.

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And Now The Things Not To Do When You’re Angry…

So, you’ve now got a long list of tricks up your sleeve for things you can do when anger rears its ugly head.

But there are also a few things that might seem like good ideas at the time that aren’t going to be helpful in the long run.

They might help you feel better or suppress the anger in the moment, but they often turn out to be counterproductive.

1. Put A Lid On It

The absolute worst thing you can do when you’re experiencing anger is nothing at all.

Some of us like to try to appear as serene as swans 24/7, even when our legs our paddling away like crazy beneath the surface of the water.

The thing is, that will eventually come to a head.

When you’re feeling angry, you need to give yourself a chance to address it and work through it.

You need to make yourself feel better about the situation rather than just burying it.

2. Take A Drive

No matter how calming you might think you find driving, it’s not a good thing to be doing when you’re angry.

Stick to your own two feet if you need a change of scenery.

Anger reduces your concentration levels, meaning you can be a danger to yourself and others.

You’re also likely to react badly to any situations you are confronted with, like other people driving poorly. Road rage isn’t pretty.

3. Sleep On It

People often say that if you have a good night’s sleep, you’ll feel better in the morning.

But in my experience, if you don’t do something to address your anger before your head hits the pillow, you won’t exactly sleep well.

What’s more, you’ll ruin the following day as well as the current one because your feelings of irritation will be compounded when you’re sleep deprived.

4. Carry On The Argument

If you’re arguing with someone and it’s got you worked up, the worst thing you can do is keep going down that road.

It’s absolutely fine to take a break until you’re both calm, and then resume your discussion in a more civilized and level-headed manner.

5. Have A Drink

A large glass of water will definitely make you feel better, but a large glass of wine might not be all that helpful.

You shouldn’t be turning to alcohol or drugs as a prop to calm you down, as lowering your inhibitions may mean you end up doing things you’ll later regret.

6. Tweet About It

Whatever you do, stay off social media when you’re angry.

Whilst hitting post might make you feel better for a few seconds, that feeling won’t last long.

You’ll probably regret it, and make a lot of other people angry in the process.

Keep it to yourself or share your feelings with people you trust, not with the wider world.

7. Make Any Major Decisions

Last but most definitely not least…

…it might be tempting to decide things when you’re in a fit of rage as you’ll be driven to take action of some kind.

But those decisions probably won’t be great ones, and they might well be terrible ones. So just shelve them until you have a clear head.

About The Author

Katie is a writer and translator with a focus on travel, self-care and sustainability. She's based between a cave house in Granada, Spain, and the coast of beautiful Cornwall, England. She spends her free time hiking, exploring, eating vegan tapas and volunteering for a local dog shelter.