In a previous section, we talked about the importance of breathing to relax your brain and muscles. We also mentioned in previous sections how important space can be in a conflict and how you can use time-outs to your benefit. Now let’s take our practice of relaxation up a notch. Let’s dig in a little more on the importance of relaxation and its role in anger management.
To maintain a more steady emotional state and become less reactive to situations, you need to be proactive and plan relaxation in your life. You need to plan breaks just as much as you need to plan meals or meetings. Routine times of relaxing can help defuse bouts of anger. Relaxation helps to level your mind and boost your emotional wellbeing, working to make you more likely to respond to things healthily.
Relaxation helps keep our body out of that fight, flight, or freeze mode we talked about before. It allows us to access the parts of our brain that controls our reasoning and logic. Relaxation also works to keep us grounded, as opposed to all revved up and spinning out of control. Ask yourself now when do you feel the most in control, when you are calm, relaxed, and breathing slowly or when your heart is racing, you’re breathing fast and you are amped up?
It is important to clarify that relaxing does not have to be the practice of sitting with self-awareness. The do-nothing of meditation can be quite the challenge. The goal in this section is to find reprieve from a challenge and for your mind, body, and spirit to rest so you can recharge your energy.
A Brief How-To
Perhaps you can think immediately of the best way to relax. We recommend avoiding alcohol or recreational drugs, as these may help you feel relaxed initially but coming “down” from them usually means adverse reactions. Using substances to manage your emotions also takes away your ability to manage them on your own. It creates a dependence on something outside of yourself to manage your thoughts and emotions. Substances also often will distort, bury, or distract you from gaining true insight into your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
Here are a few things that you can do to relax healthily:
The idea of taking time to just relax may seem overwhelming. Maybe you feel you don’t have enough time in the day. We will talk about time management later but for now, let’s focus on making relaxing a priority. Set aside a half-hour to relax after work. Try waking up earlier to start your day with some time relaxing. Ensuring that your mind and body are in a good, sound state reduces the likeliness of unhealthy communication and reduces your emotional sensitivity.
Communicate with others at home to let them know how important your relaxation is. Offer others free time to relax as well.
Try four of the activities listed above to relax. Take thirty minutes for each activity to practice relaxing over the next four days. Try tensing and then relaxing your muscles before drifting to sleep. Start at the top of your head and work your way down your body, moving down to your face, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, back, chest, stomach, legs, and feet. Take note of how it feels.
Write down relaxing methods you enjoy.
Keep track of your anger and successes and setbacks