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

A great strategy for getting an early jump on anger is to find ways of acting quite the opposite of how you’re feeling. Your brain has a way of observing your behaviors and often starts to make you feel the way you’re behaving. Furthermore, all of these techniques usually hold anger at bay for a long enough time for it to start coming down on its own. Try these ideas:

  • Practice a facial expression that looks like Mona Lisa. Practice before you actually get angry — put a slight smile on your face. Then pull it out of your toolkit when anger strikes.

  • Intentionally speak more slowly and softly. Again, practice ahead of time helps prepare you for when you need it. You might repeat “slow and soft” inside your mind as you speak.

  • Walk much more slowly. Most people have a natural rhythm to their walking. Anger speeds you up. Whatever your pace tends to be, slow it down.

  • Practice adopting a calm posture. Use a mirror to help you with this one. Start by practicing an angry posture. Puff yourself up, grimace, and tighten up. Then try an opposite, relaxed posture. Let your shoulders soften a bit and let your eyes and forehead relax. Think of a gentle flower.

  • Start breathing in a slow, rhythmic pattern. This technique isn’t the same as taking extremely long, deep breaths. Instead, practice breathing at the pace you would while lying on a pristine beach in the Bahamas. Imagine feeling tranquil and serene and have yourself breathe the way you would there — yes, even if something has led to angry feelings.