We've all been there. Stuck in traffic, dealing with a frustrating customer service call, or maybe a disagreement with a loved one. Anger is a natural human emotion, and it's okay to feel it. But when anger boils over, it can lead to regrettable words and actions. That's why learning healthy ways to manage anger is crucial.


One of the simplest and most effective tools we have to calm anger is deep breathing. It might sound too basic, but deep breathing has real scientific backing for its ability to quiet a raging temper.


In this article, let us introduce 5 key ways deep breathing helps calm anger.


But first,

What Is Anger?

Anger is an emotional response to a perceived threat or injustice.


It's often accompanied by physical changes like increased heart rate, muscle tension, and faster breathing.


These changes are part of our "fight-or-flight" response, a primitive survival mechanism that prepares us to either confront a threat or flee from it.


Here's how the science of anger unfolds in three steps:

Step 1: The Amygdala Takes Center Stage

When you perceive a threat, real or imagined, your amygdala goes into overdrive. It triggers the release of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, preparing your body for action.

Step 2: Fight-or-Flight Response Kicks In

These hormones trigger the fight-or-flight response, a survival mechanism inherited from our ancestors. Your heart rate and breathing increase, blood pressure rises, and muscles tense up. This surge of energy prepares you to either confront the threat (fight) or escape the situation (flight).

Step 3: Physiological Changes Fuel the Fire

The physical changes caused by the fight-or-flight response can further amplify your anger. Shallow, rapid breathing reduces oxygen flow to the brain, which can impair judgment and make you more likely to react impulsively.

Why It's Important to Calm It Rather than Suppress It

While anger can be a powerful motivator for change, bottling it up or letting it explode isn't healthy.


  • Suppressing anger can lead to physical problems like headaches, high blood pressure, and even heart diseases.


  • On the other hand, expressing anger in an uncontrolled way can damage relationships and lead to poor decision-making.


Instead, the goal is to find healthy ways to manage anger. This allows you to acknowledge your feelings, express them constructively, and then move on.


Deep breathing is a powerful tool in this process.

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5 Key Ways Deep Breathing Helps Calm Anger

1. Disrupts the Fight-or-Flight Response

When you're angry, your body goes into fight-or-flight mode. Your breathing becomes shallow and rapid, sending signals to your brain that further amplify your anger.


Deep breathing disrupts this cycle.


By consciously taking slow, deep breaths, you signal to your body that it's safe to relax. This helps lower your heart rate, reduce muscle tension, and slow down your breathing.


2. Activates the Relaxation Response

Our nervous system has two branches:

  • The sympathetic nervous system (fight-or-flight)
  • The parasympathetic nervous system (rest-and-digest).

Deep breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system, counteracting the effects of stress and anger.


The parasympathetic nervous system slows down your heart rate, lowers your blood pressure, and promotes feelings of calmness.

3. Promotes Focus and Clarity

When anger clouds your judgment, it's hard to think clearly and react rationally.


Deep breathing helps clear your head by increasing oxygen flow to the brain. This improved focus allows you to step back from the situation, assess it more objectively, and choose a constructive response.

4. Creates a Pause

In the heat of the moment, it's easy to say or do something you regret later.


Deep breathing creates a valuable pause.


Those few seconds spent focusing on your breath can be all you need to gain control of your emotions and choose a more mindful response.

5. Promotes Relaxation and Well-being

Deep breathing isn't just a tool for managing anger. It's a general relaxation technique that can be used to manage stress, anxiety, and even improve sleep quality.


When you learn to regulate your breathing, you learn to regulate your emotions, creating a sense of overall well-being.

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Mastering Deep Breathing with Oxa

Learning to deep breathe effectively takes practice. But with the help of Oxa, you can master this powerful technique and gain greater control over your anger.


OXA Life is a biofeedback device that guides you towards achieving optimal "resonance breathing." Resonance breathing is a specific breathing pattern that maximizes the relaxation response, making it even more effective at calming anger.


Providing real-time feedback on your breathing, the device helps you learn to slow down your breath rate and engage your diaphragm for deeper, more effective breaths.


Takeaways

Taking control of your anger can be life-changing. By incorporating deep breathing into your anger management toolbox, you can build resilience, improve your relationships, and live a calmer, happier life.


FAQ

Q. How does deep breathing calm anger?

Deep breathing disrupts the fight-or-flight response and activates the relaxation response in your body. This lowers your heart rate, relaxes muscles, and promotes feelings of calm.

Q. What happens when I take shallow breaths when angry?

Shallow breathing reduces oxygen to the brain, making it harder to think clearly and react rationally. It also fuels the fight-or-flight response, intensifying anger.

Q. How does deep breathing create a pause during anger?

Focusing on your breath for a few seconds creates a space between feeling angry and reacting. This pause allows you to regain control of your emotions and choose a mindful response.

Q. Does deep breathing only help with anger?

No! Deep breathing is a general relaxation technique. It can help manage stress, anxiety, and even improve sleep quality.

Stéphane Janssoone
Published:
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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