The second question is, Roth-Goldberg says, “What will be easy for me to get to?” This is more of a practical one, but it’s actually really important. You want something that’s quick and accessible, both physically and mentally.
“Hopefully there’s something that I know how to do, and there are not too many hurdles to get there,” she says. For instance, this might not be the best time to try a new way to get to your studio or to try to get to a class at rush hour when you know traffic is going to be gridlocked.
2. Check your environment.
Once you know what you feel like doing, make sure you can let loose in a way that won’t bother anyone else. For instance, if you’re lifting while angry, it may be tempting to be a little more forceful than usual when putting weights down (okay, maybe you want to slam the weights down) or to grunt more than usual.
You may feel like you need to get a little loud—and that’s fine, as long as you’ve made provisions, Carbaugh says. If you’re planning to get loud in your home workout area, she suggests telling your family or housemates what’s going on ahead of time. Or, if you normally work out at the gym, maybe you decide to take your routine to your at-home space instead.
If you don’t have access to a workout space where you can vocalize without disturbing others, Carbaugh suggests creating an “angry playlist” for those times when you need it. The intense music, heavy beats, or strong lyrics can help you process your emotions, as a 2015 study in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience found—while keeping the noise contained to your earbuds and out of the earspace of anyone else.
3. Don’t skip your warm-up.
This is important, especially since your primed-to-go body is going to be telling you otherwise.
“Doing a warm-up is going to be hard” when you’re fired up, Roth-Goldberg says. But you still need one.
By warming up properly, you gradually increase your core temperature and increase blood flow to your muscles, which helps you physically and mentally prepare for your workout. And that’s especially important if you go harder, faster, or longer than usual, which may be the case if you’re going into a workout mad.
A warm-up doesn’t have to be long or complicated, but make sure you choose one that activates the same muscles you’ll be using during your workout. This can help prevent injury and improve your performance.
If you don’t trust yourself to pencil in time for one, this is another situation where going to a fitness class that you enjoy may be helpful, Roth-Goldberg says. There’s guaranteed to be two to five minutes worth of warm-up time built into the workout.
4. Do something you already know how to do.
When you’re already angry, you don’t need the stress of struggling to follow the choreography of a new-to-you dance class. Though that Zumba class might be perfect if you’re a regular, for the newbie, “it might end up [being] more frustrating rather than alleviating the [angry] emotion,” Roth-Goldberg says.