Feeling frustrated? Making space for mindfulness may help you process your anger and feel more at ease.
Mindfulness has many possible benefits, from relieving stress to strengthening your connection with yourself. It can also help you regulate strong emotions like anger.
If you’re experiencing hot, tense emotions, you can use the guided meditation practice below, along with mindful breathing techniques, to soothe your nervous system.
Mindfulness is the practice of becoming aware of the present moment.
Many research studies have shown that meditation and mindfulness can have a powerful effect on your health and well-being. For example, a
In her book “Mindful Anger: A Pathway to Emotional Freedom,” psychotherapist Andrea Brandt, PhD, MFT, writes about how mindfulness may help with anger, too.
Early in her practice, she found that her clients could talk about their anger and identify when they felt angry — but their anger wasn’t going away. Communicating their anger wasn’t the issue, she writes. It was their inability to fully feel that anger.
For many of us, feeling our feelings is uncomfortable — especially when that emotion is anger. The tension may seem like too much. We don’t want to deal with the discomfort, or we may worry about what we might discover on the other side.
Fully experiencing our emotions means they don’t get buried and we receive the important information they’re trying to give, Brandt writes.
Experiencing our emotions also means that we can make positive changes in our lives.
“Recognizing our true feelings makes it possible for us to change behaviors and situations that do not support us — leading to a more honest, satisfying life,” according to Brandt.
Using mindfulness to feel your anger is one way you can connect with your emotions, process them, and help yourself feel more relaxed.
In her book, Brandt shares mindfulness strategies to help readers access, process, release, and resolve their anger.
Below is a mindfulness-based exercise from the book. It may help you tap into your anger and any other accompanying emotions through meditation:
- Breathe. This involves finding a quiet spot and focus on your breathing.
- Find alignment. Brandt advises standing with your feet a short distance apart from each other. It’s important to make sure they line up with your hips and to bend your knees slightly. You may notice the support of the floor and can try to really feel how it holds you up. As Brandt writes, “Dig your feet and toes into it.”
- Ground yourself. Pulling your shoulders back and taking several slow breaths can help you ground yourself. Brandt instructs, “With your hands, knead the skin on your arms, neck, and shoulders.” You’re advised to pay attention to the sensations in your body.
- Visualize what made you angry. You can think about an incident that triggered your anger. You may want to picture all the details until you can feel your anger rising.
- Say it out loud. Once you feel your anger, you can acknowledge it by saying, “I am angry.” Brandt suggests saying this in various ways, such as louder, softer, faster, or slower.
- Notice what happens in your body. The next step is to notice what happens in your body when you’re expressing your anger in the ways suggested above. For instance, do you feel hot, clammy, cold, confused, fatigued, floating, faint, nauseated, sweaty, shaky, stiff, tense, or weak?
- Check for any feelings other than anger. It’s helpful to name them out loud, one at a time, such as “I am hurt,” “I feel embarrassed,” “I am heartbroken,” “I feel anxious,” “I am scared,” or “I am ambivalent.”
- Relax your stance. After you’ve mentioned all the feelings you’re feeling, you can relax your stance and take several deep breaths.
- Journal about this experience. For instance, you can start with: “It’s safe to be present in my body. It’s safe to feel my feelings.” You may want to explore how just writing these sentences feels.
When you’re able to tap into your anger — or any emotions — you’re able to examine the message before you figure out how to respond, Brandt says.
Feeling your feelings may not be easy. It may not come naturally to you, especially if you have had challenging experiences or a history of trauma.
However, you can learn to feel and process your emotions in safe and healthy ways. If you’d like help working through this mindfulness example or exploring therapy for your anger, you may want to reach out to a mental health professional.
If you’re looking for a way to instantly reduce your anger, you might consider a mindful breathing exercise.
You can try taking a few deep breaths, focusing on the breath entering and leaving your body with long inhales and exhales. It helps to repeat this until you feel calmer.
Deep breathing exercises can calm your nervous system. This helps ease tension and promotes relaxation. That’s why breathing exercises are such a great option for moments of anxiety, stress, or tension.
Like breathing exercises, meditation can soothe your nervous system. It can also help you engage with and process difficult emotions like anger.
Mindfulness practices can help ease feelings of anger and frustration by helping you connect with your emotions.
If you experience anger very frequently or intensely — especially if it affects your relationships or leads to aggression — it may help to speak with a mental health professional. Psych Central’s How to Find Mental Health Support resource can help you find a therapist and other support networks.
You can read more about ways to cope with anger in these Psych Central’s articles: