Have you ever woken up on the wrong side of the bed, hoping and praying the day will pass by as quickly as possible so you can crawl back under the covers and shut the world out until you’re feeling better? Maybe you woke up with a case of PMS or didn’t get a good sleep the night before, or perhaps you got into a fight with your significant other or your kids are giving you an attitude. Whatever the reason, it feels like your blood is on a slow boil and you want to figure out how to get out of your funk FAST for the sake of yourself and those around you.
I often find that anything that CAN go wrong WILL go wrong on days such as the one I just described, and despite our best efforts, our anger and irritation ends up rubbing off on our kids, spouses, friends, and co-workers, leaving everyone feeling on edge and miserable. It can also lead to unnecessary arguments and hurtful things are sometimes said for no reason other than the fact that we’re in an irritated mood and want to be left alone!
The good news is that is IS possible to learn how to calm down when angry. Keep reading for 11 of our favorite tips to help you gain perspective and end the day on a positive note when it feels like the whole world is against you.
1. TAKE RESPONSIBILITY
If you want to know how to calm down when angry, you need to figure out why you’re feeling irritated and annoyed in the first place. Is it due to a poor night of sleep, sickness, or feelings of anxiety? Are you trying to do too many things at once? Is your child stressed about something happening at school that day and acting out? Is your spouse going through a stressful time at work and taking it out on you? Are you feeling unhappy with yourself?
Anger usually serves as a mask, and it’s often easier to resort to rage than it is to face our true fears and insecurities, but if we take the time to figure out the REAL reason for our feelings and confront them head-on rather than taking them out on someone else, we’ll be much better off in the long run.
2. RESIST THE URGE TO VENT YOUR FRUSTRATION
Yes, venting is therapeutic, but when we engage with others immediately after something upsets or angers us, we tend to say things we don’t mean and our emotions often escalate instead of dissipating. A much better strategy to use when we’re feeling angry is to take a time out to reflect on our feelings and resist the urge to talk to others until we’ve properly calmed down and have a better handle on our emotions.
It’s no secret that taking deep breaths can help restore a sense of calm when big emotions hit, but when our hearts are racing due to feelings of anger, our breathing is the farthest thing from our minds. If you’re looking for a quick tool you can use to help you figure out how to calm down when angry, take the time to focus on your breathing. Inhale a deep breath and hold it for a count of 4, and then exhale for a count of 4, and repeat as often as necessary for the physical symptoms of your anger to dissipate.
4. MOVE YOUR BODY
As annoying as it might sound, exercise really is the be all and end all of a healthy and happy existence. Not only does it reduce our risk of certain diseases and help us shed unwanted pounds, but it also contributes to a better mood and a healthier mental state. The next time you’re feeling angry and irritable, consider going for a run or lifting some weights so you can sort through your emotions, get to the root of your feelings, and formulate an appropriate response.
Of course, a good sweat sesh isn’t always a practical option when you’re feeling angry, but a simple walk around the neighborhood or up and down the stairs in your home will offer a distraction when you’re trying not to blow a gasket. Moving your body will also encourage proper breathing to help you calm down, while simultaneously helping your body produce feel-good endorphins to snap you out of your funk.
5. DO SOMETHING PRODUCTIVE
Anger can leave us feeling agitated, tense, and irritable, and finding a productive way to expel some of that negative energy can make a world of difference in restoring a sense of calm. If you want to know how to calm down when angry and deep breathing and moving your body aren’t doing the trick, crank some of your favorite tunes and organize a closet, fold a load of laundry, or cook your favorite meal to help bring yourself back to a place of calm.
Having a safe place where you can write down your feelings freely so you can express your anger in the moment is another great anger management technique for some, but if there’s a risk your child, spouse, or other family member might read what you write, consider writing something positive to try and lift yourself out of your bad mood instead of dwelling on negative thoughts and emotions.
7. KEEP A GRATITUDE JOURNAL
While I’m not really one to write my feelings down on paper for all the world to see, The Five-Minute Journal has been a life-changer for me. It’s a simple yet powerful tool you can use to train your brain to start and end each day with feelings of gratitude so you can learn how to be a happy and positive person rather than a miserable cow. LOL. And it only takes 5 minutes to complete! It helps set the tone for your day and encourages you to create change from within while also reminding you to count your blessings and resolve conflicts before the day is done. It’s one of the most powerful tools I’ve used to shift my focus and concentrate on the positives instead of the negatives, and I’ve gotten several of my friends hooked as well. Find out more about The Five-Minute Journal here.
If you lost your cool with someone and feel both guilty and annoyed with yourself for taking your anger out on them, make it a point to own up to your actions and tell them you’re sorry. Acknowledge your mistakes, come up with a plan on how you can avoid a repeat of the situation, and then move forward to help yourself feel better.
9. MAKE A PLAN AND COMMIT TO CHANGE
If you’re able to pinpoint a particular reason for your bad mood, such as lack of sleep, a busy schedule, a troubling relationship, or low self-esteem, make a promise to yourself that you will start making changes ASAP to help you feel in control of your emotions. Go to bed 30 minutes earlier, learn to say no to commitments you don’t have time for, prioritize difficult conversations, commit to a healthier eating and fitness routine, and do whatever else you need to do to get your life back on track.
10. LEARN HOW TO SAY ‘NO’
If you want to know how to calm down when angry, and recognize that your irritation stems from a constant feeling of overwhelm, do yourself a favor and learn how to say NO! As much as we want to be everything to everyone, the truth is that we are only human. You are only one person, and there are only so many hours in the day, so don’t be afraid to set boundaries with your time.
11. CUT YOURSELF A BREAK
My final tip for those who want to know how to calm down when angry is to cut yourself a break. Despite our best intentions, there are always going to be days when things go wrong and we find ourselves feeling short-tempered. When this happens, the trick is to make anger and irritability the exception rather than the rule, and to practice forgiveness when things don’t go according to plan.
Neil Cavuto once said, ‘There’s nothing wrong or evil about having a bad day. There’s everything wrong with making others have to have it… with you.’
Makes you stop and think, doesn’t it?
I hope these tips and ideas inspire you to figure out how to calm down when angry. Remember to get to the root of your feelings, to resist the urge to vent your frustration and engage in deep breathing or physical activity instead, to apologize if you’ve treated someone poorly, and to make and commit to a plan to tackle the things that are causing you to feel overwhelmed and frustrated.