There are several ways to calm your body down when you are feeling angry. Perhaps these seven relaxation techniques will help.
Think back to a time when you last felt angry. How did you know that what you were feeling was anger? Do you recall what you noticed happening inside your body? Those symptoms that you felt are known as anger cues. They cue you into recognizing that you are feeling stress of some kind.
When feeling angry, have you ever noticed that your breathing changes in some way? Do you breathe in gulps? Do you have trouble breathing? Is your breathing fast or quick or erratic-feeling? Do you find yourself getting into a fighting stance, making nervous gestures, or feeling extra cold or over-heated? What about the rest of your body?
Look at the following checklist. In addition to the anger cues mentioned above, how many of these other anger cues do you experience when you feel angry?
* headache or head pound?
* hair stands on end or feels electrified?
* eyes produce tears or you cry?
* eyes look hard or crazed or glazed or flash?
* face feels tight or flushed?
* jaw muscles flex or tense or tighten?
* teeth clench?
* voice gets high or rough or whispery-sounding?
* neck muscles tense?
* chest feels tight?
* heart palpitates?
* upper back hurts or lower back aches?
* stomach aches or feels tight or you get a nervous stomach?
* arms feel extra heavy?
* hands sweat or clench or shake?
* legs feel heavy or tight or like lead?
Relaxation exercise #1: Remember to breathe
Remember to breathe. Remembering to breathe is a great way to self-mentor and relax.
Pretend that you are feeling angry. Take a deep calming breath. Breathe in through your nose to the count of four. Breathe out through your nose or mouth to the count of four. Take at least three deep breaths. If you find yourself coughing, continue breathing deeply anyway.
Afterward, what did you notice happening in your body? Did your heart rate slow down? Did your body feel lighter? Perhaps your brain felt a greater sense of calm. Hopefully, you felt much more relaxed and calm.
So the first and best technique to try when feeling angry or frightened or tense is to take from one to three deep, calming breaths.
Relaxation exercise #2 for face, eyes, jaw, and teeth
When feeling angry, if you ever feel your face feel tight or flush, your jaw feel tight, or your teeth clench, try this.
Wiggle your jaw and chin around a few times.
Next, purposely tighten up your face, forehead, and mouth. At the same time, squint your eyes. After about 2 to 4 seconds, relax your face, forehead, mouth, and eyes. Try it again; however, this time, breathe in as you tighten everything. Exhale as you relax your facial muscles. Do this at least three times.
Relaxation exercise #3 for neck muscles and shoulders
When feeling angry, if you ever feel your neck muscles and shoulders tense, try this.
Lower your head to your right shoulder and hold it for ten seconds. Then lower your head to your left shoulder and hold it for ten seconds. Inhale while your head and shoulder are touching. Exhale as you bring your head to an upright position.
Next, rotate your neck and head around in a circle clockwise a few times. Then rotate your neck and head counterclockwise a few times.
Follow this with hunching and tightening your shoulders and arms as you breathe in. Then relax your shoulders and arms as you breathe out. Do this at least three times.
Relaxation exercise #4 for hands, arms, legs, and back
When feeling angry, if you ever feel your hands, arms, legs, or back tense, try this.
Tighten your back, your legs, and your arms. Also, make a tight fist. Breathe in as you tighten these various parts of your body. Breathe out as you relax the same parts of your body. Try this at least three times.
The good news is that you can do all of this while sitting at your office or school desk without attracting too much attention from others.
Relaxation exercise #5 for legs, thighs, knees, calves, and feet
When feeling angry, if you ever feel various parts of your legs tense, try this.
While sitting at your desk, tighten up your legs and feet while inhaling. Relax your legs and feet as you exhale.
Next, press your feet into the floor as hard as you can. Hold this position for several seconds and then relax. Remember to inhale as you tighten those muscles and exhale as you relax those muscles. Do this at least three times.
Relaxation exercise #6 for shoulders, arms, elbows, and hands
When feeling angry, if you ever feel various parts of your arms, hands, and shoulders tense, try this.
Tighten your shoulders and arms muscles as you press your hands into your desk or onto your arm rests as firmly as you can. Inhale while you tense up. Exhale as you relax. Do this at least three times.
Once again, this is something you can probably do at your desk without attracting too much attention from others.
Relaxation exercise #7 for your entire body
When feeling angry, if you ever feel any parts of your body feel tense, try this.
Tighten up your entire body. Press your arms to your body. Make fists. Press your legs together. Press your feet into the floor. Tighten your facial muscles. Squint or close your eyes. Make your body compact together as much as you can as if you were packed like sardines in a crowded elevator.
Inhale while you tense up. Exhale as you relax. Do this at least three times.
What do you notice happening in your body now? Are you feeling more relaxed and calm? Feel free to share your responses in the comment box below.
Take an inventory of your anger cues
Now that you’ve tried some or all of these relaxation techniques, take an inventory of your anger cues. Is there any part of your body still feeling tense? Tighten and relax that part of your body as you inhale. After a few seconds, relax that part of your body as you exhale. Additionally, rotate your head, shoulders, and arms a few times. Try to get your body feeling loose and comfortable.
Pay attention to each and every part of your body, taking care that you are relaxed as possible while you deal with the situation that triggered your anger in the first place. From this calmer, more peaceful stance, you are much more equipped to deal with the situation in a more intelligent fashion. As a result, perhaps now you can solve the problem in such a way that it is less likely to happen again.
Editorial note: I taught for many years and attended many teacher workshops. I also had social worker friends who shared information with me. Additional, the over 500 conflict resolution students I had a year for five years shared their insights as well. I do not know a specific individual or publication to credit for some of this information. My apologies for not being able to give you a specific source.
Other Anger Management Articles:
* Anger Cues
* Anger Triggers
* Anger Styles
* Angry? Seven ways to relax
* Chain of Pain aka Victim-Victimizer Cycle
* Your habitual anger style
* Examples of Anger Style called Acting Out
* Examples of Anger Style called Displaced Anger
* Examples of Anger Style called Ignored Anger
* Examples of Anger Style called Avoidance
* Ten ways to change your habitual anger style