For some, anger can come out of nowhere. Something triggers and boom! You’re filled with rage. Learning how to calm down and not get mad is a difficult skill to learn, but it can be done.
Like all ailments, prevention is key. However, saying this to someone already on course for a blow up is completely pointless. Let’s just consider this to be the goal, so we’ll revisit this at the end of the post.
How to Calm Down Before You’re Raging Mad
Stop it Before it Gets Too Big
Anger and rage are like a roller coaster. Once you step foot onto the coaster, you’ve opened the door and decided you’re going to take the ride. It starts slow but moves quickly once you turn the corner. It’s here where you need to take action. Do something before the coaster is raging out of control. Yell “Stop!” to your internal conductor so you may get off this dangerous ride. It takes courage to do this but that’s exactly what you need.
Triggers take you from rational and cool to ready to boil quickly. But there IS a critical time before the boiling point to turn off the gas.
Here, is the where the secret lies: learning to have control over this pocket of time between your trigger and blow-up.
Know what you’re looking for: identifying what Rage feels like
Let’s analyze some feelings and emotions. Knowing what you’re looking for is the first step. The initial trigger will cause a shot to your being. Immediately, you feel hot and ready for a fight. Adrenaline, cortisol and norepinephrine are our stress hormones that cause this feeling. Physiologically, this is an innate reaction to a threat, fight or flight. Will you decide to engage in the fight or will you scurry away and run? Here, we usually choose fight because the threat isn’t physical danger or death when weighing risk. But we must remember there IS risk.
The Danger of Rage
The risk we run when we choose to give into anger is ruining our relationships. I envision each small attitude and fight that is allowed to occur as chipping away at something whole. Large blow-ups and huge fights that you’ll remember a lifetime take giant chunks from us. The scary part is that if there’s an imbalance between the chipping away and building back up, there’s a relationship deficit. Here’s where couples run into trouble of living in the danger zone.
If there’s no positivity and nurture time to rebuild, the direction of the relationship is headed down a dangerous and detrimental road. It often takes a long time for some people to get back on track to wanting to give back to the relationship due to being hurt, so frequent fights add even further strain. All in all, there is HUGE risk with giving into your anger and rage.
Find a Stopper that works for you
When you feel that initial surge of hormones hit your blood (when they literally make it feel hot), there are multiple actions you can choose from to halt the cascade of reactions in the body and therefore, dissipate the “rage” feeling. In this stressed state, your brain is muffled, so making rational decisions are not easy. So we need to find something that works for you. Try these different approaches until you find the one that is easiest for you. The trick is to learn and practice to use your head at this point and not let your emotions get the best of you. These are a few of the ways I’ve tried to calm down when I’m on my way to becoming raging mad.
Sew your lips together
I’ll start with my most successful strategy. Personally, I’ve found that if I literally sew my mouth shut when my trigger point is being tested, I can dissipate most situations. Why? When I’ve been triggered, I can’t control the tone of my voice. Major attitude comes through in each word I speak. This only fuels the fire causing a major fight to occur. If you also struggle with attitude, Get Rid of Your Toxic Attitude Once and For All and the 21 Day Attitude Fix have been an extremely successful tools for many people.
So all you need to do is nothing! DO NOT SPEAK A WORD. When I first tried this method, I thought it would be extremely challenging to keep my big mouth shut. But actually, it is super easy and calms me down immediately. Why? It takes two to tango, it takes two to fight. So when you don’t engage, you can often see right before your eyes that the fight being halted. All you see is the other person (whom you’d normally be bickering with) look and sound silly with their big attitude and fight-provoking words. Now all of a sudden you’re in the drivers seat because you’re the one in control.
Time and time again, the bible explains how, “Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.” Proverbs 17:28. It is one of the easiest things to forget though, especially when your patience meter is already near full.
Leave the room
Before you develop the ability to sew your lips together, you may need to remove yourself from the situation to prevent a blow up. If you’re feeling like you may start to lose control, just leave. At first, you may not be able to announce that you’re leaving; that is fine. It’s better to come off a bit rude than to lose control. My phrase of choice tends to be, “I need to leave right now”. It’s straightforward and to the point without being drama.
Speaking of drama, don’t use this tactic to be dramatic.
Remember, body language can speak louder than words. The need to be in control of not only your words, but also your facial expressions and actions is critical. If your leaving the room consists of you breathing overly loud and a door slam, you’ve already failed this test.
How to Calm Down
If you’ve physically, or just mentally, left the room or conversation, that’s the time to get yourself grounded.
If you’re able to stay in the room with the offending person and conversation, good for you! This is the ultimate goal, but it will take practice and you’ll likely need to begin with removing yourself from the area. Remember, only stay if you can control yourself from reaching your boiling point.
If you’re physically gone (left the room), you can do whatever it takes to dissipate the rage feelings without judgement. Sometimes a physical outlet is needed to eliminate anger, especially if you’ve gotten to your boiling point. So, scream into a pillow, do jumping jacks or sit-ups, stomp your feet and run in place, punch the bed (not the wall); do something quiet so no one else knows.
This is not an opportunity to be heard from upstairs. In other words, do not act like a teen who slams the drawers shut to make a point and communicate anger. This is completely different. This is about regaining control. Sometimes, especially if we’ve missed a workout or two, you just need to get physical.
If you’ve stayed in the room and need to exert some energy, turn on some catchy music. The music will completely interrupt the negative energy. Let the music fill your body and move to the beat. (Think Trolls!)
Another idea is to approach your significant other and hug them or give a quick tickle. There is no way they can stay in a confrontation with you when you are trying to be silly. I know what you’re thinking, you’d never be able to do this when you’re fighting becoming mad. But trust me, after you’ve been working on your anger, you will be able to do this and this tactic does work wonders!
Breathe to Calm Down
Mentally, you’ll need to ground yourself. How? Do some quiet, deep breathing. I like the 4-7-8 technique, modifying it to keep it quiet. If a heated discussion is taking place while you prepare dinner, your goal is to keep your comments concealed and quietly chop vegetables. How? Concentrate on steady breathing and the chopping. This forces your brain to go down a different path and focus on other task. The energy will be translated to something that will not enrage you.
If you’re alone, sit, stand or clean and breathe to get your energy and mind diverted from the enraging subject.
Sometimes being alone can be dangerous. It can infuriate you more, so don’t dwell on the issue and make the problem and your anger larger.
Use this time to actively calm yourself. The key here is to remember the ultimate goal: calming down and becoming a person who can control their anger, emotions and feelings.
Do not stew
While I agree that the initial surge of hormones and anger is often not a choice, but getting more mad by stewing is.
Getting more mad by stewing is a choice.
Focusing on the offending agent will get you no where. Actually, that’s incorrect. It will take you further down the anger path and make it more difficult for you to normalize your mood and let go.
If you’re anything like me, my irrational state of mind in the stewing phase tells me that I need to think about how horrible the situation is to punish my husband in some sub-conscious sort of way. Like forgiving and letting go too quickly will convey the fact that I was okay with how I was treated. This is all bull shit though. My husband can’t read my mind, doesn’t know my thoughts and my staying mad all day will not “teach him a lesson” or make our relationship better in any way. All it will do is further degrade our relationship, make things awkward and make me feel awful. My new motto: just don’t do it. DO NOT let yourself get into stew mode.
A fantastic, healthy way to keep your temper under control and to occupy your mind is to pray. If nothing is working, prayer certainly will. This is the most effective way to change the course of your brain. Pray out loud if you can. I guarantee in less than a minute or two, your rage symptoms will dissipate to next to nothing. It will clear your head and change you from the inside, fast. If you’re serious about wanting to change and grow as a person, this is the way to do it.
Prevent Rage: Change Yourself From the Inside for Permanent Change
Ultimately, our goal is to prevent anger from taking over, like stated in the beginning. Like all ailments, it is ten times better to prevent an illness than to treat an illness. So how do we prevent anger and rage? Answer: change yourself from the inside out. Easier said than done? Actually no.
This is a daily commitment. From personal experience I will tell you if you’re not hyper-aware of trying to change your anger issue, it will consume you. Even if you feel like you’re making progress, don’t let up. A few days without committing yourself, your temper will slowly start to come back. Unfortunately, if this is your struggle in life, this will need to be a lifelong focus. Don’t despair though, just a few minutes a day can help keep your temper from flaring.
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How to change your mood, emotions and heart
Believe it can be done, easily and quickly
Before all else, you must believe you can change. Say it out loud. Trust yourself that you can change. Assure yourself you want to change – not just sometimes, but all of the time.
Intend to be thankful and appreciative
Wake and start your day with purpose. When you get out of bed, be excited you’re healthy, limber and alive with family and friends to love and connect with. Get excited for your morning coffee, your morning walk or just some quiet time for reflection. And if you’re rushing in the morning, wake up earlier. It will make all the difference. Bottom line, start the day with thankful and good-hearted intention.
The answer is right under our noses.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Proverbs 3:5-6
When we have a problem, talk to God. Trust that he can soften your heart, he can clear your mind, he can assist you in filtering your emotions. If you can’t control your anger, there really is only one effective strategy.
Dedicate Time daily with a purposeful reading
Begin the morning with prayer and a focused mind. Set a goal each day that you will not lose your temper. Find some devotional books that help you find purpose in life like this one. Find a great read to put your head and heart in the right place each morning. It doesn’t have to take long, read just a few pages in the morning to get your day going in the right direction. There’ lots of positive blog posts too like How to Make The Most of Life. Just find something that inspires you to be a better person and focuses your energy towards good and thankful vs. irritated and short.
Get a reminder
Tape a motivating note or sign in the bathroom or office. Choose an piece of jewelry to wear like energy healing beads that can serve as a reminder of change like a new bracelet. Male or female, I love these black lava stone diffuser bracelets that you can apply essential oils to. Which leads me to the next point.
Use Essential Oils
Without bullshit, essential oils are medically shown to directly effect mood and emotions. They are such a powerful tool to assist with mood modulation because they have stimulation properties in their structure which closely resemble actual hormones. Receptor cells in the nose, when oils are inhaled, signals the limbic and hypothalamus parts of the brain to release neuro messengers like noradrenalin, serotonin and endorphins. These provide a feeling of euphoric relief throughout the nervous system. To read more, this systematic review of essential oils used in aromatherapy is a fantastic reference.
I can certainly help you in developing the ideal blend of oils to use topically, orally, internally and aromatically as a personal prescription to assist with changing your mood. Please contact me if you’re interested.
I truly hope you are able to take hold of your mood and emotions to make for a happier life.
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