In the hustle and bustle of modern life, managing stress and emotions, particularly anger, has become a crucial aspect of overall well-being. Uncontrolled anger not only affects our mental health but also seeps into our relationships and daily interactions. The good news is that there are various techniques available to help navigate these emotional waters.

Dealing With Anger On The Spot

If you feel negative emotions overtake you in the heat of the moment, you can always try the following:

The Power of Breath

While these simple strategies are incredibly effective, there's another powerful tool at our disposal – our breath. The importance of controlled breathing for emotional regulation and mental well-being cannot be overstated. Our breath is intricately connected to the autonomic nervous system, and by harnessing its potential, we can influence the parasympathetic nervous system, taking advantage of our bodies’ natural calming response.

The Wonders of Controlled Breathing

When we consciously engage in rhythmic and controlled breathing, we send signals to the brain and body that initiate the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system responsible for our rest-and-digest state. This triggers a cascade of physiological changes that counteract the stress response associated with anger. The vagus nerve, a major player in the parasympathetic system, is particularly instrumental in this process.

As we inhale slowly and deeply, the vagus nerve is stimulated, releasing acetylcholine – a neurotransmitter that acts as a calming messenger. This neurotransmitter inhibits the release of stress-inducing hormones like cortisol, effectively dampening the body's fight-or-flight response. The exhale phase of controlled breathing further enhances this effect, as it activates the vagus nerve even more, creating a harmonious interplay between the breath and the nervous system.

By understanding the intricate dance between breath and the physiological responses within our body, we unlock a potent tool for emotional resilience and anger management. So let’s delve deeper into specific breathwork exercises designed to harness this transformative potential:


1. Resonance breathing

Also known as coherence breathing, this technique stands out as a powerful tool in the realm of anger management. ‍Based on the interplay of the parasympathetic nervous system, heart rate, and blood pressure

This way of breathing not only provides immediate relief during moments of anger but also cultivates a sustained sense of emotional balance.

How to Do It:

  1. Find a serene and cozy spot to sit or lie down comfortably.
  2. Close your eyes and concentrate on your breath.
  3. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth, maintaining a deliberate and unhurried rhythm.
  4. Aim for a breath count ranging between 4.5 and 7 breaths per minute.
  5. Opt for either symmetrical or natural breathing. Symmetrical breathing entails equal time for inhalation and exhalation, while natural breathing involves a shorter inhalation compared to exhalation.
  6. Although this technique is generally quite simple, gauging your body's response to your breathing pace is challenging. Achieving a resonance state brings a powerful calming effect, yet determining your body's resonance frequency and the effectiveness of your practice can be tricky. Try using wearables with live biofeedback, like Oxa, to optimize your breathing for resonance frequency during each session.

Why It Works:

Resonance breathing operates on the principle of entrainment, where the breath influences the heart rate and vice versa, creating a coherent and synchronized pattern. This synchronization has far-reaching effects on the nervous system, promoting a state of physiological and emotional harmony. From a cognitive perspective, this technique fosters a calm, clear and focused mental state, making it a valuable ally in the journey of anger management.


2. 4-7-8 Breathing Technique

The 4-7-8 technique is a simple yet potent breathing exercise known for its efficacy in promoting calmness and alleviating intense emotions like anger. Developed by Dr. Andrew Weil, this technique is renowned for its accessibility and immediate impact on the nervous system, making it a valuable tool for anger management.

How to Do It:

  1. Begin by sitting in a comfortable position, keeping your back straight and your core stabilized.
  2. Inhale quietly through your nose for a count of four seconds.
  3. Hold your breath for a count of seven seconds.
  4. Exhale completely and audibly through your mouth for a count of eight seconds.
  5. This completes one cycle. Repeat the cycle for a minimum of four breaths.

Why It Works:

The 4-7-8 technique operates on the principles of controlled breathing and the modulation of the exhale phase. The extended exhale triggers the relaxation response of the parasympathetic nervous system, inducing a calming effect on the body and mind. This technique enhances emotional equilibrium and reduces the physiological markers of stress.

3. Box Breathing

Box breathing, also known as square breathing, is a versatile and accessible technique that empowers individuals to regain control over their emotions, particularly during episodes of anger. This methodical breathwork involves a structured pattern of inhalation, retention, exhalation, and pause, resembling the shape of a box.

How to Do It:

  1. Find a quiet and comfortable space to sit or stand.
  2. Inhale deeply through your nose for a count of four seconds.
  3. Hold your breath for a count of four seconds.
  4. Exhale slowly and passively through your mouth for another count of four seconds.
  5. Pause and keep your breath out for a count of four seconds.
  6. This completes one cycle. Repeat the cycle for at least four rounds.

Why It Works:

Box breathing's efficacy in anger management lies in its ability to induce a state of coherence within the autonomic nervous system. This rhythmic and structured breathing pattern harmonizes the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches, promoting equilibrium. By incorporating box breathing into your anger management routine, you unlock a practical and potent technique for fostering emotional resilience and maintaining composure in the face of anger.

Anger Stands No Chance

In the journey of anger management, mastering the art of breathwork provides a pathway to serenity and emotional resilience. The 4-7-8 technique, box breathing, and resonance breathing stand out as amazing tools in your personal anger management arsenal.

By incorporating these breathwork techniques into your anger management toolkit, you gain more than just immediate relief during challenging moments. You train your autonomic nervous system with a sustainable approach to emotional well-being. Experiment with these practices, discover what resonates with you, and embark on a journey toward mastering your emotions through the transformative power of intentional breathwork.


Q: How often should I practice these breathwork exercises to manage anger effectively?

A: Honestly, as often as you can! These exercises are not just a band-aid solution – they also work in the long term. The frequency varies based on personal preference. Daily practice can significantly contribute to anger management.

Q: Can these breathwork techniques help in the heat of the moment when anger is overwhelming?

A: Absolutely; these techniques are designed for immediate use during intense anger episodes, providing a rapid way to regain control. But they also work after you've removed yourself from the stressful situation. They help prevent future anger attacks and make you more resilient to stress.

Q: Can children or teenagers benefit from these breathwork techniques for anger management?

A: Yes, these techniques are generally suitable for all age groups. For younger individuals, start with shorter durations and supervise their practice to ensure comfort and safety.

Stéphane Janssoone
May 28, 2024

A former elite triathlete, now a competitive freediver, MBTI I & 2, Certified Wim Hof, and Oxygen Advantage Instructor, epitomizes mastery in breathwork and personal development. As the founder of the Breathing Academy and Oxa Life’s Breathing Advisor, his transformative breath-based techniques profoundly impact individuals’ health and performance through an innovative and holistic approach.

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Get the Oxa Sensor and your choice of garment - lounge-wear shirt, bra, or adjustable chest strap. Your purchase includes access to the Oxa app which gives personalized data summaries and insights, as well as access to breathing exercises to teach you how to harness the power of your own breath.