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Anger in the Body

Updated: May 5, 2023

Learning to recognise the early signs of anger in our body can help us to step back from anger when we feel it coming. This distance then allows us to examine the reasons why our anger was triggered.

Understanding our anger from a distance

When anger rages we are taken to a state where understanding anything is impossible. (Try having a rational argument with an angry person – it never works.) We need distance from our Anger to understand what's happening. We need to access the tiny window between the moment when Anger is triggered but before it takes control of our rational brain. Understanding the body’s warning signals can help us to refocus our mind away from the destructive urges of Anger. Try counting to 10 before you respond.

Breathing exercises are a simple way of taking the focus away from Anger and providing us with the space needed to understand our feelings.

You may have heard of the 4-7-8 breathing technique. This technique is a proven way to calm the nervous system.

4-7-8 breathing technique

Close your lips and inhale through your nose for the count of four. Then hold your breath for a count of seven. Finally, exhale completely through your mouth for a count of eight. As you allow your breath to escape you should hear a gentle rush of air. Then repeat.

Different strokes for different folks

Everyone needs to find the right way that works for them. For some people breath work will offer a solution, giving distance from their angry state. Others prefer working through their anger by exercising, or by punching a pillow, or colouring in… What all these methods have in common is distraction – engaging your body and brain in an activity that takes the focus away from Anger.

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