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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Are there any deep breathing exercises that can help manage anger?

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  • Keryl Egan

    Clinical Psychologist, Psychologist

    Clinical Psychologist, experienced psychotherapist and executive coach. I work with depression, anxiety, conflict, emotional and relationship issues and couples therapy. I also specialise in individual … View Profile

    Yes there are deep breathing exercises. In fact there is an app called Calm Beat at www.mybrainsolutions.com which you can download onto your phone and it will help you to settle.  A little help from your psychologist would also help you to stick at this and manage what you want to do next once you've settled down.

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    I have been working in Eltham, Melbourne as a relationship and family counsellor for over twelve years. I draw on current theory and research about … View Profile

    the purpose of any breathing technique is to slow down the breath, and with it your heart rate. This brings you out of an emotionally flooded state to one where you can access the reasoning, rational part of your mind. Try one of the following simple ways of doing this:-

    • put your hands on your belly, just underneath your rib cage. Take a slow, deep breath in while you count to four, pushing your hands out (making your stomach ‘fat’). Breathe out slowly, counting to four again, allowing your stomach to fall back to its normal size.
    • watch your breath, without trying to control it at all. (As you watch your breath, it will regulate itself gradually back to a resting, slower rhythm). Say to yourself 'I am breathing in, I am breathing out".
    • Count backwards from 10 to 1, aligning your breath with each count. As you breathe in slowly, say ‘ten’. Breathing out slowly, say ‘ten’. Breathe in again slowly, say ‘nine’. Breathing out slowly, say ‘nine’. Continue until you reach ‘one’.
    Each of these techniques achieve two things - they slow down your breath and your heart rate, bringing you out of ‘fight or flight’ and back to a state where you are able to think more clearly (and then use cognitive strategies to think about how you will act in response to the thing you are angry about). The other important element is engaging your mind (by directing your attention to counting or saying ‘I am breathing in/out’), so that you are not continuing to focus on thoughts that may maintain or even worsen your anger.Good luck!

  • I assist clients who are undergoing a challenging life transition in relationships or work which is affecting their well being. Person centred counselling can facilitate … View Profile

    When you are experiencing feelings of anger it is important to slow down the reactive nature of these feelings and breathing exercises are a way of achieving this.

    Breathing exercises can be as simple as focusing awareness on your breath.  So, for example, when you are experiencing feelings of anger try and immediately focus attention on your breath.  For a few minutes observe the inflow and outflow of your breath; then observe what bodily sensations you are feeling.

    This combination of observing your breath and the bodily sensations you are experiencing is a practice of mindfulness which you can employ when you are feeling anger and which you can refine at other times as a practice in everyday life.  A focused awareness on your breath and what you are experiencing in the present moment can deepen your understanding of the circumstances which give rise to all habitual emotional reactions including anger.

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