How to Stay Calm and How to Calm Down

by Alex Wright

How to Stay Calm and How to Calm Down

How to Stay Calm: Be Aware of Triggers

Anger triggers are the things that set you off. Knowing your triggers, and being cautious around them, will reduce the likelihood of your anger getting out of control.

How to Stay Calm: How to use triggers to your advantage:

Create a list of your triggers and review them daily. Reviewing your triggers will keep them fresh in your mind, increasing the likelihood you notice them before they become a problem.

Oftentimes, the best way to deal with a trigger is to avoid it. This might mean making changes to your lifestyle, relationships, or daily routine.

Because it isn’t always possible to avoid triggers, have a plan when you must face them. For example, avoid touchy conversations when you are tired, hungry, or upset.

How to Calm Down: Practice Deep Breathing

Deep breathing is a simple technique that’s excellent for managing emotions. Not only is deep breathing effective, it’s also discreet and easy to use at any time or place.

Sit comfortably and place one hand on your abdomen. Breathe in through your nose, deeply enough that the hand on your abdomen rises. Hold the air in your lungs, and then exhale slowly through your mouth, with your lips puckered as if you are blowing through a straw. The secret is to go slow: Time the inhalation (4s), pause (4s), and exhalation (6s). Practice for 3 to 5 minutes.

How to Stay Calm: Keep an Anger Log

Following an episode of anger, take a few moments to record your experience. This practice will help you identify patterns, warning signs, and triggers, while also helping you organize thoughts and work through problems.

What was happening before the anger episode? Describe how you were feeling, and what was on your mind. Were you hungry, tired, or stressed?

Describe the facts of what happened. What events triggered your anger? How did you react, and did your reaction change as the event continued to unfold?

What were your thoughts and feelings during the anger episode? Looking back, do you see anything differently than when you were in the heat of the moment?


How to Calm Down: Use Diversions

The goal of diversions is to buy yourself time. If you can distract yourself for just 30 minutes, you’ll have a better chance of dealing with your anger in a healthy way. Remember, you can always return to the source of your anger later—you’re just setting the problem aside for now.

go for a walk

read a book

play a sport

listen to music

watch a movie

practice a hobby

go for a run

clean or organize

do yard work

draw or paint

do a craft

cook or bake

play a game

go for a bicycle ride

write or journal

take a long bath

play an instrument

call a friend

lift weights

go swimming

go hiking in nature

take photographs

play with a pet

rearrange a room


How to Calm Down: Take a Time-out

Time-outs are a powerful tool for relationships where anger-fueled disagreements are causing problems. When someone calls a time-out, both individuals agree to walk away from the problem, and return once you have both had an opportunity to cool down.

How to use time-outs effectively:

With your partner, plan exactly how time-outs will work. Everyone should understand the rationale behind time-outs (an opportunity to cool down—not to avoid a problem).

What will you both do during time-outs? Plan activities that are in different rooms or different places. The list of diversions from above is a good place to begin.

Plan to return to the problem in 30 minutes to an hour. Important problems shouldn’t be ignored forever, but nothing good will come from an explosive argument.

 How to Stay Calm: Know Your Warning Signs

Anger warning signs are the clues your body gives you that your anger is starting to grow. When you learn to spot your warning signs, you can begin to address your anger while it’s still weak.


can’t get past problem

feel hot / turn red

clenched fists


becoming argumentative

raised voice

using verbal insults


aggressive body language

feel sick to stomach

go quiet / “shut down”

*this worksheet was taken from

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