Helpful Breathing Tips to Keep You Calm in Those Difficult Situations
Developing Skills for Managing Anger
Just as there are many different reasons why people experience feelings of anger, there are many ways to help manage it. Rather than focusing on a single solution, anger management is made up of a variety of skills and techniques. Some of these include learning conflict resolution, getting regular exercise, meditating, attending individual counselling/workshops and taking time to calm down when in a difficult situation.
Changing the Focus
One method of calming down is to divert your attention from areas where you have no control and focus more on your own actions. We cannot control many of our external circumstances but are in charge of how we react and behave. During times of stress and anger, it may feel as though you are not in control of your reactions. Gaining skills to help control our reactions during challenging situations is central to anger management.
Using Breathing Exercises
One effective way to help calm down and divert attention is to do a breathing exercise. According to The Mayo Clinic, relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises have both physical and mental benefits, including reducing the activity of stress hormones. One reason that breathing exercises can help is because in times of anger, your brain is giving signals to your body that it is in crisis. Slowing down breathing and focusing on one’s breath helps tell one’s brain that you are safe; therefore, breathing exercises may be calming.
Here Are Some Breathing Tips:
- If possible, find a quiet and comfortable place to do breathing exercises.
- Try practicing at times when you aren’t stressed or angry. This will help build the skill for future use.
- You can do breathing exercises multiple times per day. If possible, practice often.
- Some prefer to close their eyes, helping them focus even more on being calm.
- Try concentrating on your breath, breathing slowing and envisioning you are drawing the air from deep in your stomach.
- Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
- Try relaxing the muscles in your face and body as you exhale.
- Try relaxing workouts that incorporate breathing exercises, such as Hatha, Yin or Restorative yoga or Tai chi. You may also want to try meditation for further relaxation.
- Try the 4-7-8 Breathing technique by Dr. Andrew Weil, in which repeating the counts for inhaling (4), holding one’s breath (7) and exhaling (8) help promote relaxation. (Weil, Andrew, n.d.)
Anger is a common and universal emotion. Just as the causes of anger vary greatly, there are many techniques for anger management, including breathing exercises. Part of gaining skills to help manage anger is to try new techniques for relaxation and self-care, and to be compassionate with oneself during the process of gaining these skills. Jericho Counselling offers individual therapy and group workshops for anger management, where many anger management techniques and tools are discussed in detail in a supportive and confidential context.
The following blog postings have been helpful for many of our clients and may be of interest to you, too. Please note that they do not replace professional support and assistance. If you find yourself in crisis, please reach out to support resources in your community.