Calm Down

Anger, stress, and anxiety are enough to get anyone worked up. While it might seem impossible to control your emotions, you can teach yourself to calm down. This valuable skill can help you cope with unexpected situations and emotions. Learn physical and mental exercises that can teach you to deal with and move past upsetting situations.


Calming Your Body

  1. Practice diaphragm breathing. Start by taking a full breath in for 5 seconds so that your abdomen expands, hold it for 5 seconds, then release the breath for 5 seconds. Take a couple normal breaths, then repeat the diaphragm breathing until you feel less anxious.[1] Diaphragm breathing makes sure that your breaths are getting air all the way to the bottom of your lungs. This can be especially helpful when you feel like breathing is hard or you can't get a full breath (usually when you're anxious, angry, or stressed).
    • Controlled breathing patterns can signal your body that it needs to calm down. It does this by releasing neurotransmitters that calm you.[2]
  2. Be mindful of your surroundings and body sensations. Mindfulness can be used to gently quiet the mind by bringing your attention to your sensations and surroundings. Start focusing on sounds, the temperature, what you smell or feel, and your breathing. Focus on these things until you start to relax.[1] This can quiet your mind and research shows that it can reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and help with chronic pain.[2] This can help you have more emotional control and awareness.[3]
    • The body physically responds to strong emotions by making you feel out of control. It secretes adrenaline which is released into your bloodstream. Adrenaline increases your heart rate, muscle strength, and blood pressure,[4] which is your body's way of preparing for a "fight or flight” response.[4]
  3. Do progressive muscle relaxation. Start by tightening and releasing the muscle groups in order from your head to your toes. Begin by focusing on your facial muscles, tightening them for 6 seconds and then letting the muscles release for 6 seconds. Repeat this with your neck muscles, shoulders, chest, arms, and so forth down the body until your body feels more relaxed.[1][2]
    • Progressive muscle relaxation can reduce muscle tension. This can reduce your anxiety and feelings of anger, helping you calm down.
  4. Get some exercise. If you're feeling anxious or angry, try exercising to calm yourself. Don't be tempted to focus on what's upsetting you. Instead, exercise to calm your body. When you do physical activities, your body releases endorphins which can reduce your body's stress response, improve your mood, reduce muscle tension, and calm you. Studies have also shown that exercising can change your brain, making you less susceptible to stress.[5]
    • Find whatever physical activity you enjoy doing. For example, you may do yoga, dance, walk, play sports, or go for a run.[1]
    • Since there's no set amount of exercise guaranteed to calm you down, just start exercising when you feel worked up. Keep exercising until you feel your body start to relax.
  5. Pet your animals and take them for walks, if you can. Dogs and cats can be tremendously helpful during stressful moments. You can simply talk to your pet, stroke his fur, or take him for a walk. A study has shown that 55% of people who spend time with their pets are more relaxed while 44% felt more optimistic.[6]
    • If you don't have a pet, sometimes a stuffed pet can be just as useful. Alternatively, you can visit a zoo, a nature park, an aquarium or a local wildlife reserve. Just seeing animals go about their daily business can be calming.
  6. Aim for a healthy diet. When you're overwhelmed or upset, it's easy to reach for the comfort food. Before you do that, realize that nutritious food can actually balance your mood and provide you with energy to help get you through difficult situations.[7] In addition to eating a healthy diet, studies suggest that the following foods are useful to combat stress and help you relax:[8]
    • Asparagus
    • Avocados
    • Berries
    • Oranges
    • Oysters
    • Walnuts
  7. Avoid substances that prevent you from calming down. Stimulants may make it difficult to relax or calm down. The classic example is caffeine, which can boost your central nervous system, making you feel more energetic.[9] You should also avoid relying on alcohol or nicotine products to calm yourself down. Nicotine, in particular, raises your body's heart rate and blood pressure, making it difficult to calm yourself down. Dependency will make it incredibly difficult to quit, increasing your stress and anxiety.[10]
    • While alcohol might seem like it has a calming effect, relying on alcohol to deal with stress or anxiety will actually prevent you from truly dealing with your problems.[11]

Calming Your Mind

  1. Distract yourself with a pleasant or stress-reducing activity. Sometimes, you can make yourself anxious or angry by focusing on things you have to do or things that have made you mad. Dwelling on these can make it hard to calm down and might even keep you from accomplishing things.[12] Instead, distract yourself. Keeping your mind off of what's bothering you can help you reduce stress.
    • For example, you might read, photograph, do crafts, spend time with friends, dance, or see a movie.
  2. Talk to a friend. Not only will talking about your anger or anxiety help you calm down, but it can also make you feel supported by others. You'll recognize that you're not alone. Social support is important for making you feel secure and accepted.[13]
    • Talking can also increase your self-worth,[14] help you vent, and distract you. Don't forget, it may even make you laugh, which reduces stress too.
  3. Try meditating. Sit in a comfortable position in a quiet place. Focus on your breathing and notice your thoughts. Let your worries come and go without holding on to them. Research shows that meditating for just 30 minutes a day can change brain functions and behavior.[15] It can help you feel more in control of your body and emotions when you're experiencing anger or anxiety. By focusing on your breathing and letting thoughts come and go, you can calm your body and mind.[16] It may be helpful to ask yourself the following questions while meditating to bring your focus to the present:[3]
    • What do I notice about my breathing?
    • What do I notice about my thoughts? Can I let them come and go?
    • Is my body tense? Where am I holding my anxiety?
  4. Count. Take a few deep breaths and begin counting very slowly. Start by counting to 10, but keep going if you still feel angry. Focus on the counting and not the situation that's made you angry. This is a great way to learn how to respond to your anger, rather than to simply react to it.[17]
    • When you get angry, your body releases extra adrenaline. Counting gives your body a chance to offset the adrenaline so that you don't just act on impulse.[17]
  5. Write in a journal. Try to write descriptively about how you feel. This is a good way to confront your emotions, especially if you're naturally inclined to write. Don't worry about writing complete grammatically correct sentences. You could even just write down phrases or words, if it helps calm you down. It's the process of thinking and recording your conflicts that is most important.[18]
    • Keeping a journal can also keep you from dwelling on things that bother you. Once you've written down the issue and your feelings, you can begin moving on.[19]
  6. Develop a positive mindset. Cultivating a happy attitude can help you remember the good times and let go of things that you cannot control. Once you realize you can't control every situation, you can focus on managing your own emotions. This can help you take a step back and calm down.
    • If you're struggling to stay positive, pretend like you're a happy calm person. Be consistent with this and eventually, you'll see most situations in a positive light.[19]
  7. Create or find a relaxing place. While this may be different for each person, know where to head when you start feeling overwhelmed. For example, you may want to escape to nature. Spend time watching or soaking in water and let it calm your mood.[20] Or, maybe you'd feel more relaxed by surrounding yourself with people who respect and support you. Avoid spending too much time with people who get you worked up.
    • If you can, avoid stressful situations. For example, if you know that large social functions cause you anxiety, consider only going for a short while or just meeting up with friends on a smaller scale.[20]

Getting Help

  1. Know when to get medical help. If you've tried adjusting calming your body and your mind, without seeing any change, you may want to get professional help. Getting medical treatment or therapies may help you alleviate stress or chronic worrying, which can make you worked up in the first place. You might want to seek medical help if you experience the following (which are symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder):[21]
    • Your job, social life, or relationships are disrupted by your worrying.
    • Feeling like you can't control your worrying or calm down
    • You can't relax or concentrate
    • You avoid situations that might make you anxious
    • You have difficulty sleeping
    • Feeling tense all over
  2. Learn about cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). A mental health professional will probably want you to continue with self-help treatments, like calming your mind and body through relaxation techniques. But, you will probably start cognitive behavioral therapy. This will help you examine what makes you anxious, stressed, or worried. Once you've identified this behavior, you can come up with strategies to effectively calm down. With CBT, you'll learn:[21]
    • To understand helpful and unhelpful worry, which helps you accept and respond to stress.
    • To monitor what sets you on edge, your triggers, and how long you stay worked up. This can help you track your progress.
    • Deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation tips.
    • To change any negative ways of thinking or responses. This will help you mentally calm down.
    • Face situations that usually make you anxious, worried, or panicked. This will make you feel as though you have more control.
  3. Try medication. While therapy and self-help treatments are the primary ways to calm down, your mental health professional may put you on medication for the short term. These are usually anti-anxiety medications, which may help you calm down. The following are usually prescribed for General Anxiety Disorder:[21]
    • Buspirone (Buspar) is an anti-anxiety drug that's not a sedative or addictive. It helps you manage, but doesn't completely eliminate anxiety.
    • Benzodiazepines are anti-anxiety drugs respond quickly, making them useful for situations when you can't calm down. But, if you use them often, you may become psychologically and physically dependent after a few weeks. For this reason, they're usually only prescribed for severe cases of anxiety.
    • Antidepressants are used for longer term treatment, since it takes up to 6 weeks of use before you feel anxiety relief. They may cause nausea or make sleep problems worse.

Sample Resources

Doc:Meditation Techniques,Stress Journal Entry,Ways to Calm Down


  • Laying down on your back and taking deep breaths will help you calm down.
  • Buy or find a stress ball to squeeze all of your anger out on.
  • Try listening to some relaxing music.
  • Listen to songs! It's soothing and works for everyone, maybe start off with some soothing music and progress to rock!? (If you like rock, if not that'd be pointless) It sure does calm you!
  • Losing sleep usually makes everything look more dramatic than it actually is, so try keeping yourself well-rested at all times.
  • Crying is actually a good way to get rid of stress.
  • To stop the anger attacks that take you over because of the smallest mistakes, convince yourself that you don't care about the mistake––instead, you care about what you've learned from it and you prepare yourself to do things differently next time.
  • Close your eyes and imagine flowers blooming in front of you.
  • Meditating can help. Sit alone in a quiet room. Take deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Meditation music can help as well.
  • If you don't have a happy place you can talk to your best friends, they might be able to calm you down.
  • If you cannot control your emotions at all, seek professional help through a psychologist.
  • Try to forget the situation remove your self from everything that reminds you of your anger EX. if homework is frustrated go somewhere where you can't see the homework. Then do something you like EX. Go on your phone ,watch TV read a book, it helps to remove yourself from the situation.


  • Breathing into a paper bag was once thought to help cure hyperventilation and restore calmness. Experts now agree that this is somewhat dangerous and should be avoided. You should never breathe through a paper bag. Regularly breathing through a paper bag will circulate carbon dioxide into your lungs, which is EXTREMELY dangerous to the respiratory system. Also only take medication if it is prescribed by the doctor, don't take more than was prescribed to you even if it gets worse. If it gets worse tell your doctor that it's worse, or go to a person for help.
  • Be careful not to take out your anger on others. You can get into trouble or potentially injure yourself and others.
  • Never harm yourself or others even if you're really angry. Go somewhere to calm down alone instead. If you are so enraged that you can't control yourself, check yourself into the emergency ward of a hospital for immediate assistance.

Related Articles

Sources and Citations

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  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Bourne, E.J. (2010). The anxiety and phobia workbook (5th ed.). Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc.
  3. 3.0 3.1
  4. 4.0 4.1
  17. 17.0 17.1
  19. 19.0 19.1
  20. 20.0 20.1
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2