How to Cool Down Your Temper

Self on 05.29.12
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Photo: Seth Woodworth/Creative Commons

Anger is a normal emotion that is bound to pop up in your life, but it can quickly become a runaway train that damages relationships and your own state of mind. The difference is whether you control your anger or let it control you. When your temper flares, these techniques can help you tame the flames and work through whatever ticked you off in the first place.

1. Walk away

walk awayPhoto: Rocky Lubbers/Creative Commons

If you tend to speak first and think later, step away from the people whose feelings you could hurt. Removing yourself from the situation, at least temporarily, is the quickest way to diffuse your temper and prevent saying something you'll have to apologize for later. Try to avoid slamming doors on your way out.

2. Set a date to argue

set time to talk
Photo: Pascal/Creative Commons

While walking away is a good short term solution, it's not a permanent fix - especially for relationship issues. If you have to take a time out because of your anger, let the other person know you plan to talk later when you're feeling more in control of your emotions. Saying something as simple as, "I need 15 minutes," is an easy way to give yourself space. This reduces the risk of someone chasing after you when you're trying to get some distance.

3. Concentrate on your breath

Photo: martinak15/Creative Commons

You're always breathing, whether you're angry or not. When your emotions start to get the best of you, center yourself by focusing on that automatic process. Pay attention to whether or not you're inhaling through your nose or mouth, holding your breath, and how quickly or slowly you're exhaling.

4. Take a break with nature

Photo: Pedro Klien/Creative Commons

Nature is good for the body and mind. Find yourself a patch of green, a bird to watch, or a seat in the sun. Being outside won't solve your problems, but it will calm you down and help you unclench your jaw so that you can start thinking about possible solutions.

5. Move your body

move your body
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Anger often causes physical reactions: clenched teeth, curled fingers, tense shoulders. Doing a little exercise will help you relax your body, which can lead to a more relaxed mind. More strenuous activity can also be a good way to work out aggression.

6. Express yourself

express yourself
Photo: Chloe Delong/Creative Commons

Once you've given yourself time to calm down, it's important to express your feelings. Focus on "I" language - "I feel" instead of "you did". Be respectful, but don't be afraid of being honest, even if it makes someone else angry. Avoid the temptation to suggest they read this article if they have trouble coping with their own anger.

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