Anger Management: 10 Ways to Cool Down

By Charles H. Elliott, Laura L. Smith, W. Doyle Gentry

Part of Anger Management For Dummies Cheat Sheet

When you find yourself getting angry, it’s time to take immediate action. It takes only 90 seconds to defuse your anger because anger is a brief, transient emotion, especially if you take some of the following steps:

  1. Close your mouth.

    Your odds of saying something useful when you feel intense anger are precisely 1 out of 1.2685 billion!

  2. Remind yourself that delaying any reaction will probably help.

    Reflexively and instantaneously reacting in anger is what gets you in trouble. Take your time — by being thoughtful, deliberate, and in control of your actions.

  3. Distract yourself.

    Visualize a beach or a forest. Or think about plans you have for later in the day.

  4. Breathe.

    Take a deep breath. Actually, consider taking four or five very slow, deep breaths.

  5. Analyze your anger.

    Who are you angry at? Is this where you want to lose your cool? Why are you angry? Is the intensity of your anger consistent with the cause?

  6. Ask yourself what your true goal is.

    Will you really accomplish something useful with your anger? Will your spouse love you more if you yell? Will your kids really remember to do their chores if you yell louder? Are there more constructive ways to get what you want?

  7. Stand on one foot.

    Yes, this idea sounds pretty silly. But see if you can stay angry when you’re distracted by balancing. You might be surprised. Switch to the other foot after 30 seconds.

  8. Repeat a calming phrase in your mind over and over.

    Say, “keep cool,” “relax,” “this too shall pass,” or whatever you find useful.

  9. Ask yourself how angry responses have been working for you.

    You’ll likely recall many past events when anger did more harm than good. That will probably happen again if you express unbridled anger.

  10. Reward yourself for exercising self-control.

    Mentally pat yourself on the back. Remind yourself that every time you control your anger, you have made an important step in your anger-management plan.