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Anger management: 10 tips to tame your temper
Keeping your temper in check can be challenging. Use simple anger management tips — from taking a timeout to using "I" statements — to stay in control.
Do you fume when someone cuts you off in traffic? Does your blood pressure rocket when your child refuses to cooperate? Anger is a common and even healthy emotion. But it's important to deal with it in a positive way. Uncontrolled anger can take a toll on both your health and your relationships.
Ready to get your anger under control? Start by considering these 10 anger management tips.
1. Think before you speak
In the heat of the moment, it's easy to say something you'll later regret. Take a few moments to collect your thoughts before saying anything. Also allow others involved in the situation to do the same.
2. Once you're calm, express your concerns
As soon as you're thinking clearly, express your frustration in an assertive but nonconfrontational way. State your concerns and needs clearly and directly, without hurting others or trying to control them.
3. Get some exercise
Physical activity can help reduce stress that can cause you to become angry. If you feel your anger escalating, go for a brisk walk or run. Or spend some time doing other enjoyable physical activities.
4. Take a timeout
Timeouts aren't just for kids. Give yourself short breaks during times of the day that tend to be stressful. A few moments of quiet time might help you feel better prepared to handle what's ahead without getting irritated or angry.
5. Identify possible solutions
Instead of focusing on what made you mad, work on resolving the issue at hand. Does your child's messy room make you upset? Close the door. Is your partner late for dinner every night? Schedule meals later in the evening. Or agree to eat on your own a few times a week. Also, understand that some things are simply out of your control. Try to be realistic about what you can and cannot change. Remind yourself that anger won't fix anything and might only make it worse.
6. Stick with 'I' statements
Criticizing or placing blame might only increase tension. Instead, use "I" statements to describe the problem. Be respectful and specific. For example, say, "I'm upset that you left the table without offering to help with the dishes" instead of "You never do any housework."
7. Don't hold a grudge
Forgiveness is a powerful tool. If you allow anger and other negative feelings to crowd out positive feelings, you might find yourself swallowed up by your own bitterness or sense of injustice. Forgiving someone who angered you might help you both learn from the situation and strengthen your relationship.
8. Use humor to release tension
Lightening up can help diffuse tension. Use humor to help you face what's making you angry and, possibly, any unrealistic expectations you have for how things should go. Avoid sarcasm, though — it can hurt feelings and make things worse.
9. Practice relaxation skills
When your temper flares, put relaxation skills to work. Practice deep-breathing exercises, imagine a relaxing scene, or repeat a calming word or phrase, such as "Take it easy." You might also listen to music, write in a journal or do a few yoga poses — whatever it takes to encourage relaxation.
10. Know when to seek help
Learning to control anger can be a challenge at times. Seek help for anger issues if your anger seems out of control, causes you to do things you regret or hurts those around you.
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- Kassinove H, et al. Happiness. In: The Practitioner's Guide to Anger Management: Customizable Interventions, Treatments, and Tools for Clients With Problem Anger. Kindle edition. New Harbinger Publications; 2019. Accessed March 11, 2022.
- Understanding anger: How psychologists help with anger problems. American Psychological Association. https://www.apa.org/topics/anger/understanding. Accessed March 11, 2022.
- Controlling anger before it controls you. American Psychological Association. https://www.apa.org/topics/anger/control. Accessed March 11, 2022.
- Tips for survivors: Coping with anger after a disaster or other traumatic event. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. https://store.samhsa.gov/product/tips-survivors-coping-anger-after-disaster-or-other-traumatic-event/pep19-01-01-002. Accessed March 11, 2022.
- Caring for your mental health. National Institute of Mental Health. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/caring-for-your-mental-health. Accessed March 11, 2022.
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How anger management can help you, tip 1: explore what's really behind your anger, tip 2: be aware of your anger warning signs, tip 3: identify your triggers, tip 4: learn ways to cool down quickly, tip 5: find healthier ways to express your anger, tip 6: stay calm by taking care of yourself, tip 7: use humor to relieve tension, tip 8: recognize if you need professional help, anger management.
Is your temper hijacking your life? These tips and techniques can help you get anger under control and express your feelings in healthier ways.
Anger is a normal, healthy emotion, neither good nor bad. Like any emotion, it conveys a message, telling you that a situation is upsetting, unjust, or threatening. If your knee-jerk reaction to anger is to explode, however, that message never has a chance to be conveyed. So, while it’s perfectly normal to feel angry when you’ve been mistreated or wronged, anger becomes a problem when you express it in a way that harms yourself or others.
You might think that venting your anger is healthy, that the people around you are too sensitive, that your anger is justified, or that you need to show your fury to get respect. But the truth is that anger is much more likely to have a negative impact on the way people see you, impair your judgment, and get in the way of success.
Effects of anger
Chronic anger that flares up all the time or spirals out of control can have serious consequences for your:
- Physical health. Constantly operating at high levels of stress and anger makes you more susceptible to heart disease, diabetes, a weakened immune system, insomnia, and high blood pressure.
- Mental health. Chronic anger consumes huge amounts of mental energy, and clouds your thinking, making it harder to concentrate or enjoy life. It can also lead to stress, depression, and other mental health problems.
- Career . Constructive criticism, creative differences, and heated debate can be healthy. But lashing out only alienates your colleagues, supervisors, or clients and erodes their respect.
- Relationships . Anger can cause lasting scars in the people you love most and get in the way of friendships and work relationships. Explosive anger makes it hard for others to trust you, speak honestly, or feel comfortable—and is especially damaging to children.
If you have a hot temper, you may feel like it’s out of your hands and there’s little you can do to tame the beast. But you have more control over your anger than you think. With insight about the real reasons for your anger and these anger management tools, you can learn to express your emotions without hurting others and keep your temper from hijacking your life.
Many people think that anger management is about learning to suppress your anger. But never getting angry is not a healthy goal. Anger will come out regardless of how hard you try to tamp it down. The true goal of anger management isn’t to suppress feelings of anger, but rather to understand the message behind the emotion and express it in a healthy way without losing control. When you do, you’ll not only feel better, you’ll also be more likely to get your needs met, be better able to manage conflict in your life, and strengthen your relationships.
Mastering the art of anger management takes work, but the more you practice, the easier it will get. And the payoff is huge. Learning to control your anger and express it appropriately will help you build better relationships, achieve your goals, and lead a healthier, more satisfying life.
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Have you ever gotten into an argument over something silly? Big fights often happen over something small, like a dish left out or being ten minutes late. But there’s usually a bigger issue behind it. If you find your irritation and anger rapidly rising, ask yourself, “What am I really angry about?” Identifying the real source of frustration will help you communicate your anger better, take constructive action, and work towards a resolution.
Is your anger masking other feelings such as embarrassment, insecurity, hurt, shame, or vulnerability? If your knee-jerk response in many situations is anger, it’s likely that your temper is covering up your true feelings. This is especially likely if you grew up in a family where expressing feelings was strongly discouraged. As an adult, you may have a hard time acknowledging feelings other than anger.
Anger can also mask anxiety . When you perceive a threat, either real or imagined, your body activates the “fight or flight” response. In the case of the “fight” response, it can often manifest itself as anger or aggression. To change your response, you need to find out what’s causing you to feel anxious or scared.
Anger problems can stem from what you learned as a child. If you watched others in your family scream, hit each other, or throw things, you might think this is how anger is supposed to be expressed.
Anger can be a symptom of another underlying health problem , such as depression ( especially in men ), trauma, or chronic stress .
Clues that there's more to your anger than meets the eye
You have a hard time compromising. Is it hard for you to understand other people’s points of view, and even harder to concede a point? If you grew up in a family where anger was out of control, you may remember how the angry person got their way by being the loudest and most demanding. Compromising might bring up scary feelings of failure and vulnerability.
You view different opinions as a personal challenge. Do you believe that your way is always right and get angry when others disagree? If you have a strong need to be in control or a fragile ego, you may interpret other perspectives as a challenge to your authority, rather than simply a different way of looking at things.
You have trouble expressing emotions other than anger. Do you pride yourself on being tough and in control? Do you feel that emotions like fear, guilt, or shame don’t apply to you? Everyone has those emotions so you may be using anger as a cover for them. If you are uncomfortable with different emotions, disconnected, or stuck on an angry one-note response to situations, it’s important to get back in touch with your feelings. HelpGuide’s free Emotional Intelligence Toolkit can help.
While you might feel that you just explode into anger without warning, there are in fact physical warning signs in your body. Becoming aware of your own personal signs that your temper is starting to boil allows you to take steps to manage your anger before it gets out of control.
Pay attention to the way anger feels in your body
- Knots in your stomach
- Clenching your hands or jaw
- Feeling clammy or flushed
- Breathing faster
- Pacing or needing to walk around
- “Seeing red”
- Having trouble concentrating
- Pounding heart
- Tensing your shoulders
Stressful events don’t excuse anger, but understanding how these events affect you can help you take control of your environment and avoid unnecessary aggravation. Look at your regular routine and try to identify activities, times of day, people, places, or situations that trigger irritable or angry feelings.
Maybe you get into a fight every time you go out for drinks with a certain group of friends. Or maybe the traffic on your daily commute drives you crazy. When you identify your triggers, think about ways to either avoid them or view the situations differently so they don’t make your blood boil.
Negative thought patterns that can trigger anger
You may think that external factors—the insensitive actions of other people, for example, or frustrating situations—are causing your anger. But anger problems have less to do with what happens to you than how you interpret and think about what happened.
Common negative thinking patterns that trigger and fuel anger include:
- Overgeneralizing . For example, “You ALWAYS interrupt me. You NEVER consider my needs. EVERYONE disrespects me. I NEVER get the credit I deserve.”
- Obsessing over “shoulds” and “musts.” Having a rigid view of the way a situation should or must go and getting angry when reality doesn’t line up with this vision.
- Mind reading and jumping to conclusions . Assuming you “know” what someone else is thinking or feeling—that they intentionally upset you, ignored your wishes, or disrespected you.
- Collecting straws . Looking for things to get upset about, usually while overlooking or blowing past anything positive. Letting these small irritations build and build until you reach the “final straw” and explode, often over something relatively minor.
- Blaming . When anything bad happens or something goes wrong, it’s always someone else’s fault. You tell yourself, “life’s not fair,” or blame others for your problems rather than taking responsibility for your own life.
When you identify the thought patterns that fuel your anger, you can learn to reframe how you think about things. Ask yourself: What’s the evidence that the thought is true? That it’s not true? Is there a more positive, realistic way of looking at a situation? What would I say to a friend who was thinking these things?
Once you know how to recognize the warning signs that your temper is rising and anticipate your triggers, you can act quickly to deal with your anger before it spins out of control. There are many techniques that can help you cool down and keep your anger in check.
Focus on the physical sensations of anger . While it may seem counterintuitive, tuning into the way your body feels when you’re angry often lessens the emotional intensity of your anger.
Take some deep breaths . Deep, slow breathing helps counteract rising tension. The key is to breathe deeply from the abdomen, getting as much fresh air as possible into your lungs.
Get moving . A brisk walk around the block is a great idea. Physical activity releases pent-up energy so you can approach the situation with a cooler head.
Use your senses . You can use sight, smell, hearing, touch, and taste to quickly relieve stress and cool down. You might try listening to a favorite piece of music, looking at a treasured photo, savoring a cup of tea, or stroking a pet.
Stretch or massage areas of tension . Roll your shoulders if you are tensing them, for example, or gently massage your neck and scalp.
Slowly count to ten . Focus on the counting to let your rational mind catch up with your feelings. If you still feel out of control by the time you reach ten, start counting again.
Give yourself a reality check
When you start getting upset about something, take a moment to think about the situation. Ask yourself:
- How important is it in the grand scheme of things?
- Is it really worth getting angry about it?
- Is it worth ruining the rest of my day?
- Is my response appropriate to the situation?
- Is there anything I can do about it?
- Is taking action worth my time?
If you’ve decided that the situation is worth getting angry about and there’s something you can do to make it better, the key is to express your feelings in a healthy way. Learning how to resolve conflict in a positive way will help you strengthen your relationships rather than damaging them.
Always fight fair . It’s okay to be upset at someone, but if you don’t fight fair, the relationship will quickly break down. Fighting fair allows you to express your own needs while still respecting others.
Make the relationship your priority . Maintaining and strengthening the relationship, rather than “winning” the argument, should always be your first priority. Respect the other person and their viewpoint.
Focus on the present . Once you are in the heat of arguing, it’s easy to start throwing past grievances into the mix. Rather than looking to the past and assigning blame, focus on what you can do in the present to solve the problem.
Be willing to forgive . Resolving conflict is impossible if you’re unwilling or unable to forgive. Resolution lies in releasing the urge to punish, which can never compensate for our losses and only adds to our injury by further depleting and draining our lives.
Take five if things get too heated . If your anger starts to spiral out of control, remove yourself from the situation for a few minutes or for as long as it takes you to cool down.
Know when to let something go . If you can’t come to an agreement, agree to disagree. It takes two people to keep an argument going. If a conflict is going nowhere, you can choose to disengage and move on.
Taking care of your overall mental and physical well-being can help ease tension and diffuse anger problems.
Manage stress . If your stress levels are through the roof, you’re more likely to struggle controlling your temper. Try practicing relaxation techniques such as mindfulness meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, or deep breathing. You’ll feel calmer and more in control of your emotions.
Talk to someone you trust . Nothing eases stress more effectively than chatting face-to-face with a friend or loved one. The person doesn’t have to provide answers, they just need to be a good listener. But talking about your feelings and seeking a different perspective on a situation is not the same as venting. Simply venting your anger at someone will only fuel your temper and reinforce your anger problem.
Get enough sleep . A lack of sleep can exacerbate negative thoughts and leave you feeling agitated and short-tempered. Try to get seven to nine hours of good quality sleep .
Exercise regularly. It’s an effective way to burn-off tension and ease stress, and it can leave you feeling more relaxed and positive throughout the day. Aim for at least 30 minutes on most days, broken up into shorter periods if that’s easier.
Be smart about alcohol and drugs . They lower your inhibitions and can make it even harder to control your anger. Even consuming too much caffeine can make you more irritable and prone to anger.
When things get tense, humor and playfulness can help you lighten the mood, smooth over differences, reframe problems, and keep things in perspective. When you feel yourself getting angry in a situation, try using a little lighthearted humor. It can allow you to get your point across without getting the other person’s defenses up or hurting their feelings.
However, it’s important that you laugh with the other person, not at them. Avoid sarcasm, mean-spirited humor. If in doubt, start by using self-deprecating humor. We all love people who are able to gently poke fun at their own failings. After all, we’re all flawed and we all make mistakes.
So, if you’ve made a mistake at work or you’ve just spilled coffee over yourself, instead of getting angry or picking a fight, try making a joke about it. Even if the joke falls flat or comes out wrong, the only person you risk offending is yourself.
When humor and play are used to reduce tension and anger, a potential conflict can even become an opportunity for greater connection and intimacy.
If, despite putting these previous anger management techniques into practice, your anger is still spiraling out of control, or if you’re getting into trouble with the law or hurting others, you need more help.
Anger management classes allow you to meet others coping with the same struggles and learn tips and techniques for managing your anger.
Therapy , either group or individual, can be a great way to explore the reasons behind your anger and identify triggers. Therapy can also provide a safe place to practice new skills for expressing anger.
Anger isn’t the real problem in an abusive relationship
Despite what many believe, domestic violence and abuse does not happen due to the abuser’s loss of control over their temper. Rather, it’s a deliberate choice to control another person. If you are abusive towards your spouse or partner, know that you need specialized treatment, not regular anger management classes.
- Controlling Anger Before it Controls You - Origins of excessive anger, tips on coping, and when to seek more help. (American Psychological Association)
- What Your Anger May Be Hiding - Reasons behind excessive anger. (Psychology Today)
- Anger and Trauma - How anger should be treated when it’s a symptom of PTSD. (National Center for PTSD)
- When You Love an Angry Person - Tips on fighting fair, ways to approach a loved one, and when to seek more help. (Get Your Angries Out)
- Trauma- and Stressor-Related Disorders. (2013). In Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders . American Psychiatric Association. Link
- Williams, Riccardo. “Anger as a Basic Emotion and Its Role in Personality Building and Pathological Growth: The Neuroscientific, Developmental and Clinical Perspectives.” Frontiers in Psychology 8 (November 7, 2017): 1950. Link
- Staicu, ML, and M Cuţov. “Anger and Health Risk Behaviors.” Journal of Medicine and Life 3, no. 4 (November 15, 2010): 372–75. Link
- Ba, Al Ubaidi, and Al Ubaidi Ba. “Control Excessive Anger before It Controls Your Life.” Accessed November 17, 2021. Link
- Zarshenas, Ladan, Mehdi Baneshi, Farkhondeh Sharif, and Ebrahim Moghimi Sarani. “Anger Management in Substance Abuse Based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: An Interventional Study.” BMC Psychiatry 17, no. 1 (November 23, 2017): 375. Link
- Nasir, Rohany, and Norisham Abd Ghani. “Behavioral and Emotional Effects of Anger Expression and Anger Management among Adolescents.” Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences , 2nd World Conference on Psychology and Sociology, PSYSOC 2013, 27-29 November 2013, Brussels, Belgium, 140 (August 22, 2014): 565–69. Link
- Bodenmann, Guy, Nathalie Meuwly, Thomas N. Bradbury, Simone Gmelch, and Thomas Ledermann. “Stress, Anger, and Verbal Aggression in Intimate Relationships: Moderating Effects of Individual and Dyadic Coping.” Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 27, no. 3 (May 1, 2010): 408–24. Link
- Fehr, Beverley, Mark Baldwin, Lois Collins, Suzanne Patterson, and Riva Benditt. “Anger in Close Relationships: An Interpersonal Script Analysis.” 25, no. 3 (March 1, 1999): 299–312. Link
- Candelaria, Ashley M., Alicia L. Fedewa, and Soyeon Ahn. “The Effects of Anger Management on Children’s Social and Emotional Outcomes: A Meta-Analysis.” School Psychology International 33, no. 6 (December 1, 2012): 596–614. Link
- Okuda, Mayumi, Julia Picazo, Mark Olfson, Deborah S. Hasin, Shang-Min Liu, Silvia Bernardi, and Carlos Blanco. “Prevalence and Correlates of Anger in the Community: Results from a National Survey.” CNS Spectrums 20, no. 2 (April 2015): 130–39. Link
- Saghir, Zahid, Javeria N. Syeda, Adnan S. Muhammad, and Tareg H. Balla Abdalla. “The Amygdala, Sleep Debt, Sleep Deprivation, and the Emotion of Anger: A Possible Connection?” Cureus 10, no. 7 (July 2, 2018): e2912. Link
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Frequently Asked Questions
Anger is a natural emotion, and when managed well, it can even be healthy and productive. But when anger escalates to the point that it causes harm to yourself and others, it's time to make some changes. Anger management refers to a set of skills used to handle and express anger in healthy ways.
Read on to learn more about anger management counseling and why it's important.
Illustration by Michela Buttignol for Verywell Health
What Is Anger Management?
People use a number of conscious and unconscious processes to handle their anger. Common approaches include:
While anger may be a normal and healthy emotion, how we respond to it makes a big impact. Anger management involves responding to anger in healthy, constructive ways. People who struggle with anger responses may need professional help to learn how to manage their anger.
What Is Anger?
Anger is a natural emotion that is subjective and adaptive. It can vary in intensity, from subtle irritation to intense rage.
It has different components:
- Experiential : Emotional experiences accompanied by physiological responses
- Expressional : Behaviors used to deal with anger feelings
Anger management therapy helps a person gain insight into what triggers their anger as well as identify their anger responses. Using certain exercises, the person develops skills that help them manage their anger in healthy and productive ways .
Anger treatment programs typically aim to modify:
- Physiological arousal
- Cognitive processes
- Behavior/social interaction
Psychotherapists use three basic strategies in anger management treatment:
- Relaxation : Learning to calm the body
- Cognitive therapy : Learning healthy thinking patterns
- Skill development : Learning new behaviors
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a commonly-used, effective treatment for anger management.
CBT for anger targets thought patterns and behaviors associated with problematic anger management. Once these are identified, they can be replaced over time with realistic, productive responses to feeling angry.
These responses are achieved through exercises, such as reframing the way you think about a problem and how you respond to it. CBT can identify anger cues and triggers and implement practices and techniques to stop anger from escalating.
Variations on CBT may be used, such as:
- Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) : Combines cognitive therapy, meditation , and mindfulness
- Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) : An action-oriented approach that addresses irrational beliefs and develops skills to manage emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in more productive, healthier ways
Who Needs It?
Everyone can benefit from learning effective anger management strategies, but anger management treatment may be especially helpful for people in certain circumstances.
Any job can be stress -inducing, but some jobs can make anger management especially necessary.
For example, nursing has been shown to involve many factors that can trigger anger responses.
Expressing anger (such as using offensive hand gestures) has been shown to increase safety risks while driving. Incorporating anger management techniques into driver training classes could help make roads safer.
People Who Are or Are at Risk of Being Incarcerated
Studies have shown anger management can be effective in reducing the risk of reoffending, particularly violent reoffending.
A 2015 meta-analysis explored the effects of CBT-based anger management interventions among adult men who were incarcerated. After treatment completion, the overall risk of reoffending showed a 42% reduction, while violent reoffending showed a 56% reduction.
People With Substance Use Disorder and Other Mental Health Conditions
Anger and aggression are associated with substance abuse . Difficulty managing anger and aggression can be a significant barrier to treatment for substance use.
Problems with anger management are also known to be caused by and aggravate many other mental health conditions.
While it's a common belief that anger "fuels" athletes, there is evidence to show that anger might be dysfunctional, if not managed correctly, particularly in sports that require selective attention and fine-tuned motor skills.
Research suggests that CBT programs can help athletes understand and control this anger response.
Children and Adolescents
Children and adolescents who struggle with anger management can be at increased risk for difficulties in school and in social interactions. If it continues into later adolescence and adulthood, they are at risk for problems with employment and potential legal troubles.
Teaching anger management skills to children and adolescents reduces these risks and other negative outcomes associated with anger issues. Starting this training before they internalize unhealthy behaviors is especially beneficial.
CBT combined with mindfulness techniques, implemented by trained CBT practitioners, have been shown to be effective for anger management with children.
Abuse Is More Than an Anger Issue
Domestic violence and abuse involves a deliberate control over another person, not necessarily a loss of control or temper. Abuse requires specialized treatment, not standard anger management classes.
If you or a loved one are experiencing or have experienced domestic violence, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 for confidential assistance from trained advocates. For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database .
Poor anger management is associated with a number of negative effects on physical, mental, and social health, including cardiovascular diseases, low self-esteem, and interpersonal problems.
Proper anger management habits are part of taking care of overall health for everyone.
There are ways to practice anger management skills outside of formal therapy. In fact, if you are in professional treatment for anger management, you will be encouraged to practice skills outside of class.
Relaxation techniques can be practiced as needed and regularly as part of your daily routine. Tools might include:
- Deep breathing
- Relaxing imagery
- Meditation and mindfulness exercises
Cognitive restructuring involves changing the way you think about situations, taking the overly dramatic or exaggerated thinking that tends to come with anger and trying to be more logical and realistic, even when the anger is justified.
Exercise is great for physical and mental health. It's also been shown to have a positive effect on anger reduction and stress control.
Instead of reacting with frustration, you can tackle your issue by:
- Evaluating the problem
- Identifying your options for a response
- Considering the likely consequences of each potential solution
It's also important to recognize that problems will arise that do not have a perfect solution, or may be out of your control. In situations like these, focus on what you can control in the situation, and what behaviors will leave you feeling the best about yourself over time.
If your sincere attempts to solve the problem are not successful at first, be easy on yourself, try to be patient, practice your anger management techniques, and avoid all-or-nothing thinking.
If you feel your angry thoughts building, counter them with commands to stop the pattern of angry thoughts before the anger escalates.
Communication and Clarification
When angry feelings arise, stop, think, and ask yourself where the anger is coming from. Sometimes anger can be a smoke screen for other feelings, like fear or anxiety . Talking about your feelings, with others or even out loud to yourself, can help.
Stop, slow down, and think when heated discussions arise. Listen carefully to the other person, and carefully consider what you are going to say before you respond.
Try employing the Conflict Resolution Model:
- Identify the problem
- Identify the feelings associated with the conflict
- Identify the impact of the problem
- Decide whether to resolve the conflict
- Work towards resolution of the conflict, including if a compromise is needed
It can be difficult, but trying to see the humor in situations—even frustrating ones—can help take the fire out of an angry response.
"Time outs" aren't just for children; they can be a way for you to take a minute to calm down and deescalate your anger.
A "time out" could include:
- Leave the situation
- Count to 10
- Repeat calming phrases
- Breathe deeply
- Shift to a more pleasant thought
- Bring yourself back into focus
It can also be helpful to schedule regular personal time for periods of the day you know will be stressful, such as claiming the first 15 minutes after you get home from work as uninterrupted "me time."
Identify the things that tend to trigger your anger and try to avoid them.
For example, if you tend to get frustrated with something at night, try doing it at a different time of day. If your child's messy room angers you, close their door. If driving to work sets you off, look into taking the bus or train.
What Is The Psychology Behind Anger Management?
When anger happens, anger-related scripts, schemas, and motor impulses automatically activate. If these responses are unhealthy, negative behavior, such as aggression, is likely to occur.
Thankfully, the way we respond to anger is largely learned behavior and not fixed. Learning effective anger management skills and practicing them changes the response to anger. With enough practice, these healthy responses can became the default.
Not only is it impossible to completely eliminate anger, it's not even the goal. Anger serves a purpose. The goal is learning to manage it. Learning to control anger takes practice and isn't easy. It's an ongoing process for everyone.
Some people can learn to manage their anger on their own or with minimal professional help. But anger can be very complex, have deeply embedded roots, and be a symptom of a bigger problem, such as a mental health condition. In these cases, treatment can take longer and require more intensive professional help.
Finding a Therapist
When looking for a therapist, look for one with experience in anger management. Approaches to anger management can be different than other forms of therapy.
The American Psychological Association has an online search tool to help you find a psychologist in your area.
Anger management skills are learned. People who have difficulty managing their anger can learn productive ways to handle their emotions.
Professional treatment, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, is effective at treating anger management issues. Practicing anger management skill-building exercises at home and putting them into practice helps solidify good anger management habits.
A Word From Verywell
Feeling out of control with anger can be overwhelming and scary, for yourself and those around you. It takes time and practice to learn and develop healthy anger management skills. Fortunately, resources are available to help you learn these skills. Consider an anger management counseling program or seeking out a mental health professional for treatment.
The length of the individual classes and the course of treatment depends on which program or intervention is being administered, and how the person responds to it. One example of a CBT anger management course involves 12, 90-minute weekly sessions.
CBT is the most common program used for anger management treatment, but it is often combined with other strategies, such as mindfulness. The key is trying different strategies and finding what works for you.
Researching anger management techniques, such as cognitive restructuring and other tools, can provide you with some strategies to start with. If you find you need more help, look for a mental health professional with experience in anger management.
The cost of counseling varies depending on the provider, length of treatment, and other considerations.
The terms are often used interchangeably, but there are differences. In general, counseling tends to focus on finding solutions to specific problems or issues. It is generally short-term. Psychotherapy tends to be longer and addresses mental health concerns more deeply.
American Psychological Association. Control anger before it controls you .
Kim YR, Choi HG, Yeom HA. Relationships between exercise behavior and anger control of hospital nurses . Asian Nursing Research . 2019;13(1):86-91. doi:10.1016/j.anr.2019.01.009
Steffgen G. Anger management - evaluation of a cognitive-behavioral training program for table tennis players . Journal of Human Kinetics . 2017;55(1):65-73. doi:10.1515/hukin-2017-0006
American Psychological Association. How a psychologist can help you manage anger .
Anjanappa S, Govindan R, Munivenkatappa M. Anger management in adolescents: a systematic review . Indian Journal of Psychiatric Nursing . 2020;17(1):51. doi:10.4103/IOPN.IOPN_37_19
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Anger management for substance use disorder and mental health clients .
Asvaroğlu SY, Bekiroğulları Z. Cognitive behavioural therapy treatment for child anger management . The European Journal of Social & Behavioural Sciences . 2020;2. doi:10.15405/ejsbs.2020.04.issue-2
Qu W, Dai M, Zhao W, Zhang K, Ge Y. Expressing anger is more dangerous than feeling angry when driving . PLoS ONE . 2016;11(6):e0156948. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0156948
Henwood KS, Chou S, Browne KD. A systematic review and meta-analysis on the effectiveness of CBT informed anger management . Aggression and Violent Behavior . 2015;25:280-292. doi:10.1016/j.avb.2015.09.011
Zarshenas L, Baneshi M, Sharif F, Moghimi Sarani E. Anger management in substance abuse based on cognitive behavioral therapy: an interventional study . BMC Psychiatry . 2017;17(1):375. doi:10.1186/s12888-017-1511-z
Vuoksimaa E, Rose RJ, Pulkkinen L, et al. Higher aggression is related to poorer academic performance in compulsory education . Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry . 2021;62(3):327-338. doi:10.1111/jcpp.13273
Dewi IDADP, Kyranides MN. Physical, verbal, and relational aggression: the role of anger management strategies . Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma . 2021;0(0):1-18. doi:10.1080/10926771.2021.1994495
By Heather Jones Heather M. Jones is a freelance writer with a strong focus on health, parenting, disability, and feminism.
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11 Anger Management Strategies to Help You Calm Down
Managing anger can help your body and brain respond to stress in healthy ways
Amy Morin, LCSW, is a psychotherapist and international bestselling author. Her books, including "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do," have been translated into more than 40 languages. Her TEDx talk, "The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong," is one of the most viewed talks of all time.
Akeem Marsh, MD, is a board-certified child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrist who has dedicated his career to working with medically underserved communities.
- How to Manage Anger
Why Manage Anger?
Failing to manage your anger can lead to a variety of problems like saying things you regret, yelling at your kids, threatening your co-workers, sending rash emails, developing health problems, or even resorting to physical violence. But not all anger issues are that serious. Instead, your anger might involve wasting time thinking about upsetting events, getting frustrated in traffic, or venting about work.
Managing anger doesn't mean never getting angry. Instead, it involves learning how to recognize, cope with, and express your anger in healthy and productive ways. Anger management is a skill that everyone can learn. Even if you think you have your anger under control, there’s always room for improvement.
While anger itself isn't a mental illness, in some cases, anger can be connected to mood disorders, substance use disorders, and other mental health conditions.
Since unchecked anger can often lead to aggressive behavior, anger management uses various techniques to help a person cope with thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in a healthy and more productive way.
So, you may be wondering, How do I become less angry? While change may not happen overnight, there are plenty of strategies you can use to cope with your anger.
Verywell / Cindy Chung
Anger Management Strategies
Research consistently shows that cognitive behavioral interventions are effective for managing anger. These interventions involve changing the way you think and behave. They are based on the notion that your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are all connected. (Cognitive behavioral interventions are also taught in anger management therapy.)
Your thoughts and behaviors can either fuel your emotions or they can reduce them. So, if you want to shift your emotional state away from anger, you can change what you’re thinking and what you’re doing. Without fuel, the fire inside you will begin to dwindle and you'll feel calmer.
The best method for managing anger is to create an anger management control plan. Then, you'll know what to do when you start feeling upset.
The following are 11 strategies to manage anger and to include in your anger management control plan.
If you’ve gotten into the habit of losing your temper, take stock of the things that trigger your anger. Long lines, traffic jams, snarky comments, or excessive tiredness are just a few things that might shorten your fuse.
While you shouldn't blame people or external circumstances for your inability to keep your cool, understanding the things that trigger your anger can help you plan accordingly.
You might decide to structure your day differently to help you manage your stress better. Or, you might practice some anger management techniques before you encounter circumstances that you usually find distressing. Doing these things can help you lengthen your fuse—meaning that a single frustrating episode won’t set you off.
Consider Whether Your Anger Is Helpful or Unhelpful
Before you spring into action to calm yourself down, ask yourself if your anger is a friend or an enemy. If you’re witnessing someone’s rights being violated or you are in an unhealthy situation, your anger might be helpful.
In these cases, you might proceed by changing the situation rather than changing your emotional state. Sometimes, your anger is a warning sign that something else needs to change—like an emotionally abusive relationship or a toxic friendship.
Being angry might give you the courage you need to take a stand or make a change.
If, however, your anger is causing distress or hurting your relationships, your anger may be an enemy. Other signs of this type of anger include feeling out of control and regretting your words or actions later. In these situations, it makes sense to work on tackling your emotions and calming yourself down.
Recognize Your Warning Signs
If you're like some people, you may feel like your anger hits you in an instant. Perhaps you go from calm to furious in a heartbeat. But there are still likely warning signs when your anger is on the rise. Recognizing them early can help you take action to prevent your anger from reaching a boiling point.
Think about the physical warning signs of anger that you experience. Perhaps your heart beats faster or your face feels hot. Or, maybe you begin to clench your fists. You also might notice some cognitive changes. Perhaps your mind races or you begin “seeing red.”
By recognizing your warning signs, you have the opportunity to take immediate action and prevent yourself from doing or saying things that create bigger problems. Learn to pay attention to how you're feeling and you'll get better at recognizing the warning signs.
Step Away From the Triggering Situation
Trying to win an argument or sticking it out in an unhealthy situation will only fuel your anger. One of the best anger management exercises is to remove yourself from the situation if you can.
How to Control Anger Immediately
Walking away from a triggering situation can be an excellent way to take control of your anger. When a conversation gets heated, take a break. Leave a meeting if you think you’re going to explode. Go for a walk if your kids upset you. A time-out can be key to helping you calm your brain and your body.
If there’s someone that you routinely get into heated disputes with, like a friend or family member, talk with them about the importance of taking a time-out and resuming when you're both feeling calm.
When you need to step away, explain that you aren’t trying to dodge difficult subjects, but that you’re working on managing your anger. You aren't able to have a productive conversation or resolve conflict when you’re feeling really upset. You can rejoin the discussion or address the issue again when you're feeling calmer.
Sometimes it helps to set a specific time and place when you can discuss the issue again. Doing so gives your friend, colleague, or family member a sense of peace that the issue will indeed be discussed—just at a later time.
Talk Through Your Feelings
If there’s someone who has a calming effect on you, talking through an issue or expressing your feelings to that person may be helpful. It’s important to note, however, that venting can backfire.
Complaining about your boss , describing all the reasons you don’t like someone, or grumbling about all of your perceived injustices may add fuel to the fire. A common misconception is that you have to vent your anger to feel better.
But studies show you don’t need to “get your anger out.” Smashing things when you’re upset, for example, may actually make you angrier. So it’s important to use this coping skill with caution.
Likewise, if you’re going to talk to a friend, make sure you’re working on developing a solution or reducing your anger, not just venting. It's unfair to use them as your go-to sounding board. Instead, you might find that the best way to use this strategy is to talk about something other than the situation causing you to feel angry.
Get in a Quick Workout
Anger gives you a rush of energy. One of the best anger management exercises is quite literally to exercise and engage in physical activity. Whether you go for a brisk walk or hit the gym, working out can burn off extra tension.
Regular exercise also helps you decompress. Aerobic activity reduces stress, which might help improve your frustration tolerance. Additionally, exercise allows you to clear your mind . You may find that after a long run or a hard workout you have a clearer perspective on what was troubling you.
Focus on the Facts
Angry thoughts add fuel to your anger. Thinking things like, “I can’t stand it. This traffic jam is going to ruin everything,” will increase your frustration. When you find yourself thinking about things that fuel your anger, reframe your thoughts.
Instead, think about the facts by saying something like, “There are millions of cars on the road every day. Sometimes, there will be traffic jams.” Focusing on the facts—without adding in catastrophic predictions or distorted exaggerations—can help you stay calmer.
You also might develop a mantra that you can repeat to drown out the thoughts that fuel your anger. Saying, "I'm OK. Stay calm," or "Not helpful," over and over again can help you minimize or reduce angry thoughts.
Distract Yourself With a New Activity
Ruminating about an upsetting situation fuels angry feelings. If, for example, you’ve had a bad day at work, rehashing everything that went wrong all evening will keep you stuck in a state of frustration.
The best way to calm down might be to change the channel in your brain and focus on something else altogether.
Telling yourself “Don’t think about that,” isn’t always successful. The best way to mentally shift gears is to distract yourself with an activity. Do something that requires your focus and makes it more challenging for angry or negative thoughts to creep in.
Some examples might include deep-cleaning the kitchen, weeding the garden, paying some bills, or playing with the kids. Find something to do that will keep your mind occupied enough that you won’t ruminate on the things upsetting you . Then, your body and your brain can calm down.
Breathe and Relax
There are many different anger management exercises that involve relaxation. The key is to find the one that works best for you. Breathing exercises and progressive muscle relaxation are two common strategies for reducing tension.
The best part is, both exercises can be performed quickly and discreetly. So whether you’re frustrated at work or you’re angry at a dinner engagement, you can let go of stress quickly and immediately.
It’s important to note, however, that relaxation exercises take practice. At first, you might not feel as though they’re effective, or you might question whether they’re going to work for you. But with practice, they can become your go-to strategies for anger management.
Acknowledge Your Underlying Emotion
Sometimes it helps to take a moment and think about what emotions might be lurking beneath your anger. Anger often serves as a protective mask to help you avoid feeling more painful emotions, like embarrassment, sadness, and disappointment.
When someone gives you feedback that’s hard to hear, for example, you might lash out in anger because you’re embarrassed. Convincing yourself the other person is bad for criticizing you might make you feel better in the moment because it keeps your embarrassment at bay. But acknowledging underlying emotions can help you get to the root of the problem. Then, you can decide to take appropriate action.
For instance, if someone cancels plans on you and your underlying emotion is disappointment, you could try explaining how the cancellation makes you feel rather than lashing out in anger. When you're honest about your feelings, you're more likely to resolve the issue. Responding in anger usually doesn't accomplish anything except pushing people away.
Avoid Suppressing Your Anger
Getting to the underlying cause of your anger is much more effective than suppressing your anger. Though it can be tempting to try to minimize an undesirable emotion, you are likely to cause even more stress by denying your anger altogether.
Create a "Calm Down" Kit
If you tend to come home from work stressed and take out your anger on your family, or you know that workplace meetings cause you a lot of frustration, create a calm down kit that you can use to relax.
Think about objects that help engage all your senses. When you can look, hear, see, smell, and touch calming things, you can change your emotional state. So a calm down kit might include scented hand lotion, a picture of a serene landscape, a spiritual passage you can read aloud, and a few pieces of your favorite candy. Include things that you know will help you remain calm.
You also might create a virtual calm down kit that you can take everywhere. These are things that you can call upon when needed and are more portable. For instance, calming music and images, guided meditation , or instructions for breathing exercises could be stored in a special folder on your smartphone.
Get Advice From The Verywell Mind Podcast
Hosted by therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast shares some techniques that can help you relax.
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Anger is an emotion that can range from mild irritation to intense rage. While many people categorize anger as a solely “negative emotion,” it can be positive. Angry feelings may spur you to stand up for someone or they may lead you to create social change.
But when left unchecked, angry feelings can lead to aggressive behavior , like yelling at someone or damaging property. Angry feelings also may cause you to withdraw from the world and turn your anger inward, which can impact your health and well-being .
Anger becomes problematic when it's felt too often or too intensely or when it's expressed in unhealthy ways, which can take a toll physically, mentally, and socially. For this reason, anger management strategies can be beneficial and can help you discover healthy ways to express your feelings.
Why Do I Get Angry So Easily?
There are underlying reasons for our anger; if you get angry easily, it could be the result of something else you're experiencing such as fear, panic, stress, financial struggles, relationship problems, and/or coping with trauma. As mentioned, mood disorders may cause anger, as well as hormonal imbalances.
If anger has been causing problems in your life and you’re struggling to tame your temper on your own, you might want to seek professional help. Some mental health problems can be linked to anger management issues.
For example, PTSD has been linked to aggressive outbursts. Depressive disorders also can cause irritability and may make it more difficult to manage anger. It's important to uncover any mental health issues that could hinder your ability to manage anger.
Start by talking to a physician about your mood and your behavior. A physician will make sure you don’t have any physical health issues that are contributing to the problem.
A doctor may refer you to a mental health professional for further evaluation. Depending on your goals and treatment needs, you may attend anger management therapy, during which you'll learn additional anger management therapy techniques and how to implement them in your daily life—especially when you're feeling triggered.
You also can contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.
For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database .
A Word From Verywell
While aggressive behavior may get your needs met in the short term, there are long-term consequences. Your words might cause lasting damage to your relationships or even end them altogether. By lashing out, you're also causing yourself additional stress, which can have a negative impact on your overall health.
If you’ve been using your anger as a tool, you may benefit from learning healthier strategies, such as asking for help or speaking up in an assertive, but not aggressive, manner. Talk to your doctor about your anger management issues if you need more assistance.
Fernandez E, Johnson SL. Anger in psychological disorders: Prevalence, presentation, etiology and prognostic implications . Clin Psychol Rev . 2016;46:124-135. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2016.04.012
Sukhodolsky DG, Smith SD, McCauley SA, Ibrahim K, Piasecka JB. Behavioral interventions for anger, irritability, and aggression in children and adolescents . J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2016;26(1):58-64. doi:10.1089/cap.2015.0120
Qu W, Dai M, Zhao W, Zhang K, Ge Y. Expressing anger is more dangerous than feeling angry when driving . PLoS ONE. 2016;11(6):e0156948. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0156948
Kim YR, Choi HG, Yeom HA. Relationships between exercise behavior and anger control of hospital nurses . Asian Nurs Res (Korean Soc Nurs Sci) . 2019;13(1):86-91. doi:10.1016/j.anr.2019.01.009
Troy AS, Wilhelm FH, Shallcross AJ, Mauss IB. Seeing the silver lining: Cognitive reappraisal ability moderates the relationship between stress and depressive symptoms . Emotion . 2010;10(6):783-95. doi:10.1037/a0020262
Norelli SK, Long A, Krepps JM. Relaxation techniques . In: StatPearls [Internet]. StatPearls Publishing.
Zhan J, Ren J, Sun P, Fan J, Liu C, Luo J. The neural basis of fear promotes anger and sadness counteracts anger . Neural Plast . 2018;2018:3479059. doi:10.1155/2018/3479059
American Psychological Association. Control anger before it controls you .
Trifu SC, Tudor A, Radulescu I. Aggressive behavior in psychiatric patients in relation to hormonal imbalance (Review) . Exp Ther Med . 2020;20(4):3483-3487. doi:10.3892/etm.2020.8974
Duran S, Ergün S, Tekir Ö, Çalışkan T, Karadaş A. Anger and tolerance levels of the inmates in prison . Arch Psychiatr Nurs . 2018;32(1):66-70. doi:10.1016/j.apnu.2017.09.014
Henwood KS, Chou S, Browne KD. A systematic review and meta-analysis on the effectiveness of CBT informed anger management . Aggress Violent Behav . 2015;25:280-292. doi:10.1016/j.avb.2015.09.011
By Amy Morin, LCSW Amy Morin, LCSW, is a psychotherapist and international bestselling author. Her books, including "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do," have been translated into more than 40 languages. Her TEDx talk, "The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong," is one of the most viewed talks of all time.
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How to Manage Your Anger
Tips on taming your tantrums..
Posted February 26, 2020
- How Can I Manage My Anger?
- Find a therapist to heal from anger
"Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured." — Mark Twain
Sitting in my car for 45 minutes on a Monday morning in bumper-to-bumper traffic for a drive that should have taken 5 minutes was my breaking point. I sat there thinking, "I hate my life right now."
It was a disastrous morning. Everything that could have gone wrong did. My daughter was up all night teething, my toilet overflowed and flooded my bathroom, and my dog came in from outside and destroyed my floor with his mud and poop-covered paws.
At that point, I could have snapped at Mickey Mouse. I looked at the car to the right of me trying to cut me off and thought, "Go ahead and try it, man." My middle finger was ready to go.
All my training, meditation practice, and efforts to be rational disappeared; my centered self was nowhere to be found. As the anger coursed through my veins, it happened: I went from being a rational person to being totally insane.
Anger can do that. It can make the calmest person look like the Hulk on steroids. When an emotion that powerful rages through your body, it's easy to lose yourself, your values, and everything you stand for.
The rational and humble part of me understands that the things I was experiencing that morning could have been a lot worse. However, the pile of annoyances, coupled with my lack of sleep, created the perfect recipe for me to lose it. I was Dorothy in Oz, confused about what reality I was in, wanting to get back to my world, but not knowing the way.
When anger boils in your blood, it's easy to get swept away from your reality. It wasn't until I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and clicked my heels together that I was able to find my way to life and myself again.
As most of you probably already know, anger can push us to think and say crazy things. We actually believe we make sense when, in reality, we're completely irrational. Like a drunk person who doesn't know when it's time to stop, anger hinders your judgment and makes you unaware of what's going on.
That's because when you're angry, you're under the influence of strong chemicals. The amygdala, the part of your brain that initially triggers anger, is one of the most primitive parts of the brain. After your amygdala alerts your body that you're angry, your adrenal gland kicks into action.
Adrenaline is a chemical that increases your heart rate, forcing body contractions and blood flow to your brain and muscles. Your body then starts producing more testosterone , a chemical that kicks your aggression into a higher gear. When your body reacts to your rage, it ramps up the intensity by making you even more manic . This is why anger can make you say and do crazy things that don't reflect the truth of who you really are.
Contrary to what people think, anger doesn't make you speak the truth. It makes you speak from the most primitive part of yourself. Basically, you may get a more rational conversation from a 4-year-old than from an angry person.
I know a lot about anger and its consequences; I ran an anger management group for convicted felons. Yes, you read that correctly, little me ran a group for a group of people who had been arrested at one point because of their anger. It wasn't my favorite job—everyone in the group always seemed so mad about something—but I learned a lot in the process. The number-one thing I learned is that it isn't necessarily the situation that makes us angry, but what we tell ourselves about it.
During my time as a facilitator for the anger management group, I heard it all: "He cut me off on purpose! He was out to get me! That's why I had to pull out my gun." "She deserved to get punched! She was in my face, waving her finger and yelling at me." "He cut me in line. I was waiting, and the jerk just walked right in front of me. I had to push him out of the way."
That's how the angry thoughts seduce you into acting out and getting you even more enraged—thinking the other person purposely and maliciously did something to you, and you had no choice but to retaliate. It makes sense: If you feel attacked, you attack back. However, no one in my group was actually in any danger. The danger was in their thought process. Anger is most likely a result of misunderstanding other people's actions and assigning our own meaning to them.
When people respond to situations with anger, most likely there's more to the story. Behind their rage might be a fear of being hurt, a fear of not being able to stand up for themselves, or a fear of unjust or unfair things happening. These are all reasonable feelings. However, when those rational feelings are expressed through anger, the situation can become worse.
Since anger can lead to aggressiveness, it's important to try to tap into your rational mind when you start to feel yourself getting angry. The goal is to learn how to self-soothe and self-regulate , working with the distress and negative feelings that are fueling the anger. Work on talking yourself down versus working yourself up. For example, when someone cuts you off in traffic, instead of assuming, "He saw me and must have done that on purpose!" think to yourself, "They must not have seen me, or maybe they had a long day. It's nothing personal to me."
It's important to remember that anger is a normal human emotion, and when it is managed properly, it isn't a problem. It only becomes a problem when you lose yourself in it. I was frustrated that Monday morning, because things didn't happen the way I wanted them to, and people didn't behave the way I thought they should. This led to negative emotions that I could have responded to negatively if I didn't give myself enough time to talk myself down and cool off.
You may be feeling hurt, frightened, disappointed, worried, embarrassed, or frustrated, but express those emotions as anger. That is what I found with the members of my anger management group: All of their emotions were being expressed only as anger. When we look within ourselves, we can see what is really behind our anger. And we can learn to express ourselves differently when we accept that it's OK to be vulnerable.
Following are tips for managing your anger in everyday life:
1. Recognize the triggers for your anger, like certain comments, family members, friends, or places that tend to upset you.
2. Try to place yourself in the other person's shoes, understanding where he or she is coming from.
3. Pay attention to your body's warning signs of anger: tightness in the shoulders, increased heart rate, hot face.
4. Continue an approach that works for you. This could include concentrating on your breathing, meditation, evaluating your thoughts, listening to music, going for a walk, or changing your environment.
5. Practice. Imagine being in a situation that makes you angry and draw upon one of your skills.
6. Remember, it's OK to get angry. It's a normal part of being human. The problem lies in how we manage and express it.
7. Don't judge yourself for getting angry. You are going to lose it every once in a while. Don't beat yourself up about it.
Ilene S. Cohen, Ph.D. , is a psychotherapist and blogger, who teaches in the Department of Counseling at Barry University.
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Knowing Your Anger Style Will Help You to Finally Manage It Better—Here's How
Learn how to control or deal with your anger with these 16 tips for managing your frustration and anger, whether you have a quick temper or a biting sense of humor.
Jenna McCarthy is a best-selling author of over 20 books. She has been writing fiction and nonfiction books and magazine articles for over two decades. Highlights: * Former writer/editor at Seventeen and Mademoiselle * Former editor at Shape * Has written over 20 books and many magazine articles
Haley is a Wisconsin-based creative freelancer and recent graduate. She has worked as an editor, fact checker, and copywriter for various digital and print publications. Her most recent position was in academic publishing as a publicity and marketing assistant for the University of Wisconsin Press
Anger Style: Explosive
Anger style: self-abuse, anger style: avoidance, anger style: sarcasm, anger style: passive-aggressive, anger style: habitual irritation.
Learning how to control anger is a life-long process, but one worth embarking upon. Dealing with anger productively and with emotional intelligence can improve your overall mood, your relationship with others, and your relationship with yourself—and after acknowledging that you do experience anger (because everyone does), learning your anger style is a great starting place.
While an occasional display of irritation isn't a bad thing, experts say being consistently bent out of shape can harm your relationships, pummel your self-esteem, and contribute to things like high blood pressure and heart disease. And anger itself is just the tip of the iceberg. "It's almost always being driven by another emotion, such as fear, resentment, or insecurity," says Carlos R. Todd, a licensed counselor and a certified anger-management facilitator in Charlotte, N.C.
Your anger style guides how you express anger and, once you're ready to learn how to deal with anger, your default style determines the best method of addressing your frustration or bitter disappointment. If classic anger management methods haven't worked long-term for you, perhaps it's because you're trying the wrong method of managing anger for your anger style. Here, we'll help you figure out what your anger style is, plus how to deal with those negative feelings.
What it looks like : "If you leave your jacket on the floor one more time, I'm leaving you!" It may take a lot to push you over the edge, but when you get there, the earth shakes and people run for cover.
Why you might do it : If you were never taught how to deal with irritation, you may habitually swallow it until you can swallow no more. Eventually your top will blow. Some people are anger junkies, who get off on the adrenaline rush of an emotional explosion, not to mention the fact that the onslaught can mean they get their way―at least in the short term.
The damage : It is virtually impossible to feel empathy and anger simultaneously, so in the heat of the moment, you are more likely to say and do overly harsh things that you later regret.
How to control your explosive anger
- Wait it out . "Research has shown that the neurological anger response lasts less than two seconds," says Ronald Potter-Efron, PhD, an anger-management specialist in Eau Claire, Wis., and a coauthor of Letting Go of Anger. Beyond that, it takes a commitment to stay angry. Mentally recite the Pledge of Allegiance or count to 10 and see if the urge to explode has diminished.
- Own your emotions . A simple rephrasing of your feelings can help you feel more in control. "I'm really upset by your behavior" is much more effective and empowering than "%#*&@!."
What it looks like : "It's my fault he doesn't help me. I'm a terrible wife." You find a way to make everything your fault, every single time.
Why you might do it : Somewhere along the line, your self-esteem took a beating and you decided that sometimes it's just safer and easier to be mad at yourself than at someone else.
The damage : Constantly turning angry feelings inward can set you up for continued disappointments and even depression.
How to control your self-directed anger
- Question yourself . Every time you feel the urge to assume blame, start by asking yourself, "Who told me I was responsible for this?" Then ask, "Do I really believe that?" Instead of accepting all responsibility, thank yourself for recognizing the pattern in the first place.
- Work on your self-worth . Make a list of your positive qualities. Developing a genuine sense of worthiness is a critical step in overcoming self-blame. Seek out a professional if you need more help in working around this issue.
What it looks like : "I'm fine. It's fine. Everything's fine." Even when there's a fireball of rage burning in your gut, you paste on a happy face and dodge any display of irritation. This isn't passive aggression; it's buried aggression.
Why you might do it : "Women in particular are told over and over again to be nice no matter what. Get angry and you could lose your reputation, marriage, friends, or job," says Potter-Efron. If you grew up in a volatile or abusive home, you may not believe anger can be controlled or expressed calmly.
The damage : The primary function of anger is to signal that something is amiss and encourage resolution. By ignoring that warning sign, you may end up engaging in self-destructive behaviors (overeating, excessive shopping). You're also basically giving the green light to other people's bad behavior or denying them the opportunity to make amends. How can they apologize if they don't know you've been hurt?
How to control your avoidant anger
- Challenge your core beliefs . Ask yourself, "Is it really fine for my employees to leave early whenever they want? For my partner to go golfing every weekend?" If you're honest, the resounding answer to these questions is probably "You know what? It's not fine." Recognizing that something is wrong is the first step to setting it right.
- Step outside yourself . Imagine that a friend is the one being abused, overworked, or neglected. What would be the appropriate way for her to respond? Make a list of actions she might take, then ask yourself why it is OK for her, but not you, to react that way.
- Embrace healthy confrontation . Someone ticked you off? Tell the person―in a positive, constructive way. Yes, he or she might be surprised, possibly even (gasp!) angered, by your words. And you know what? He or she will get over it. "Avoidance often does more damage to families and friendships than any expression of anger," says Potter-Efron.
What it looks like : "It's OK that you're late. I had time to read the menu―40 times." You find a roundabout way of getting your digs in, with a half smile.
Why you might do it : You were probably raised to believe that expressing negative emotions directly isn't OK, so you take a more indirect route. If folks get mad, it's their fault, not yours. After all, you were just kidding. Can't people take a joke?
The damage : Even though couched in wit, your cutting comments can damage your relationships. Although some people insist that mockery is a form of intellectual humor, the very word sarcasm is related to the Greek word sarkazein, meaning "to tear flesh like dogs." Ouch.
How to control your sarcastic anger
- Give it to them straight . "Sarcasm is passive-aggressive communication," explains Todd. Find words to express how you feel head-on. You might explain to a tardy friend, say, after you're seated, "I wish you would try to be on time, especially when you know we have limited time."
- Be firm and clear . This is especially true with children, to whom a gentle "Jumping on the furniture is not acceptable" sends a much clearer message than the snarky "Don't worry―we just happen to have $2,000 set aside for a new sofa."
- Speak up before you get bitter . Exercising assertiveness prior to arriving at your breaking point can help prevent a sarcastic streak from popping out.
What it looks like : "Oops. Did I delete all those old baseball games from the DVR?" You don't hide or swallow your anger, but you express it in an underhanded way.
Why you might do it : You dislike confrontation, but you're no pushover, either. "People become 'anger sneaks' when they believe they can't stand up to others," says Potter-Efron. Some people who are cautious by nature turn to this style when they feel pushed outside their comfort zones.
The damage : You frustrate people. Todd puts it another way: "You're living your life around making sure other people don't get what they want, instead of striving for what would make you happy." The bottom line: No one wins.
How to control your passive-aggressive anger
- Give yourself permission to get angry . Tell yourself that anger is your psyche's way of saying you're tired of being pushed around. A mantra: Assertiveness is fine; aggression (passive or otherwise) is not.
- Advocate for yourself . Instead of "forgetting" to turn in your report at work or showing up late to meetings, gather your courage and tell your boss that your workload has gotten too heavy or that you're having an issue with a coworker. It won't be easy, but neither is looking for another job.
- Take control . If you turn to passive aggression when you're uncomfortable with what's expected of you, it's important to do something to take the reins of your situation. Unable to manage the house or the finances solo? Rather than doing a haphazard job of it (subconsciously, of course), tell your partner how important it is that he contributes.
What it looks like : "I am sick and tired of you borrowing my stapler! Get your own!" This is often less a reaction to events and more a default option. It's always on unless you consciously turn it off.
Why you might do it : If your discontent dwells directly below the surface and is constantly seeping through, there's probably resentment, regret, or frustration boiling beneath. Maybe your coworker got the promotion and you didn't. Or your marriage is falling apart and you're not sure why.
The damage : If you're always ready to blow, friends, family, and coworkers may take great pains to avoid upsetting you. Or they may avoid you altogether. The most likely result? No progress―you stay stuck in the same vicious cycle.
How to control your habitual anger
- Get to the heart of it . What are you really mad about? If you dig deep, you'll realize it probably isn't about a stapler―or dirty socks on the floor, or an empty milk carton in the refrigerator, or any of the other small things that make you so frustrated. Consider professional intervention if you can't get to the bottom of it on your own.
- Tune in to anger clues . Become aware of the actions and feelings associated with your irritation. When you're enraged, do you ball your hands into fists? Pace around the room? Grumble, swear, or grit your teeth? As you identify and experience each physiological response, make a mindful effort to do something―anything―else.
- Visualize peace . Try this technique to stop rising anger before it overtakes you: Imagine your breath as a wave, a surge of color, or even a breeze. Watch it come in and out; optimally each breath will be deep and quiet. Hear yourself speaking calmly and softly to yourself and to others. Your anger reflex should diminish another degree each time you do this imaging.
Online Etymology Dictionary. sarcasm (n.) . Date Accessed August 26, 2022.
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Most people feel angry sometimes, but if it's affecting your life, there are things you can try that may help.
Support is also available if you're finding it hard to cope with stress, anxiety or depression.
Symptoms of anger
Anger can cause many different symptoms. It might affect how you feel physically or mentally, or how you behave.
Some people become aggressive towards others when they're angry. Other people hide their anger and may take it out on themselves.
It's not always easy to recognise when anger is the reason why you're behaving differently.
- faster heartbeat
- tense muscles
- clenching your fists
- tightness in your chest
- feeling hot
- feeling tense or nervous
- being unable to relax
- being easily irritated
- feeling humiliated
- resenting other people
- ignoring people or sulking
- starting fights
- breaking things
Things you can try to help with anger
Do try to recognise when you start to feel angry so you can take steps to calm down as early as possible give yourself time to think before reacting – try counting to 10 and doing calming breathing exercises talk to people about what's making you angry – speak to someone who is not connected to the situation, such as a friend, a gp or a support group such as samaritans exercise – activities such as running, walking, swimming and yoga can help you relax and reduce stress find out how to raise your self-esteem , including how to be more assertive consider peer support, where people use their experiences to help others. find out more about peer support on the mind website listen to free mental wellbeing audio guides try self-help cognitive behavioural therapy (cbt) techniques on the every mind matters website to manage unhelpful thoughts, reframe situations, solve problems and deal with stress don’t.
do not try to do everything at once; set small targets you can easily achieve
do not focus on things you cannot change. Focus your time and energy on helping yourself feel better
try not to tell yourself that you're alone – most people feel angry sometimes and support is available
try not to use alcohol, cigarettes, gambling or drugs to relieve anger – these can all contribute to poor mental health
Further information and support
- Mind: coping with long-term anger
- Mind: treatment and support
Where to get help for anger
Non-urgent advice: see a gp if:.
- you feel you need help dealing with your anger
They may be able to refer you to a local anger-management programme or counselling.
Anger management programmes
A typical anger management programme may involve 1-to-1 counselling and working in a small group.
A programme may be a 1-day or weekend course, or over a couple of months.
The structure of the programme depends on who provides it, but most programmes include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) , as well as counselling.
There are also private courses and therapists who can help with anger issues. Make sure any therapist you see is registered with a professional organisation, such as the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy .
Where to get NHS help for stress, anxiety or depression
Referring yourself for therapy.
If you need more support, you can get free talking therapies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), on the NHS.
You can refer yourself directly to a talking therapies service without a referral from a GP.
If you're under 18, or want to get help for someone under 18, find out how to get mental health support for children and young people .
- you're struggling to cope with stress, anxiety or depression
- you've had a low mood for more than 2 weeks
- things you're trying yourself are not helping
- you would prefer to get a referral from a GP
Urgent advice: Ask for an urgent GP appointment or call 111 if:
- you need help urgently, but it's not an emergency
111 can tell you the right place to get help if you need to see someone. Go to NHS 111 online or call 111
Immediate action required: Call 999 or go to A&E now if:
- you or someone you know needs immediate help
- you have seriously harmed yourself – for example, by taking a drug overdose
A mental health emergency should be taken as seriously as a medical emergency.
Find your nearest A&E
Causes of anger
There are many different causes of anger and it's different for everyone.
Some common things that make people feel angry include:
- being treated unfairly and feeling powerless to do anything about it
- feeling threatened or attacked
- other people not respecting your authority, feelings or property
- being interrupted when you're trying to achieve a goal
How you react to anger can depend on lots of things, including:
- the situation you're in at the moment – if you're dealing with lots of problems or stress, you may find it harder to control your anger
- your family history – you may have learned unhelpful ways of dealing with anger from the adults around you when you were a child
- events in your past – people who experience traumatic, frightening or stressful events sometimes develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which can lead to angry outbursts
- substances such as drugs and alcohol – which make some people act more aggressively than usual
Some of the things that make you angry may not bother other people at all.
You might find it hard to explain why you feel this way but talking to someone could help you find a solution.
Find out about the 5 steps to mental wellbeing .
If uncontrolled anger leads to domestic violence and abuse (violence or threatening behaviour within a relationship), there are places that offer help and support.
You can contact organisations such as:
- Women's Aid
- Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP)
- Men's Advice Line
Find out more about getting help for domestic violence and abuse .
Page last reviewed: 23 November 2022 Next review due: 23 November 2025
11 Anger Management Therapy Techniques and Interventions
These are just a handful of the many imaginative idioms we use to describe feeling angry. They don’t paint a very nice picture, do they?
Although anger is considered a bit of a troublemaker, it has an important function. If expressed constructively, anger can actually be useful in society.
Despite anger being a common and natural emotion, many people find it difficult to manage anger effectively or express it in constructive ways. Anger can become a serious problem when dealt with through aggressive and violent means.
In this article, we’ll break down the psychology behind anger management and how anger management therapy works, and share interventions you can use to help clients develop their anger management skills and awareness.
Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Positive Relationships Exercises for free . These detailed, science-based exercises will help you or your clients build healthy, life-enriching relationships.
This Article Contains:
The psychology behind anger management, 12 symptoms of problematic anger in adults, what is the best therapy for anger, how does anger management therapy work, 3 best interventions & counseling tips, why is anger management therapy important, positivepsychology.com’s resources, a take-home message.
Anger is often portrayed as a “bad,” reckless, or unhelpful emotion. But while anger can sometimes lead to more destructive behavior, it has an important self-protective function that can help bring about social good (Lambert, Eadeh, & Hanson, 2019).
Why do we get angry?
We get angry when we perceive an injustice, believe we have been wronged, or experience provocation that challenges our values or principles (Lambert et al., 2019; Thomas, 2001).
Hostility differs from anger and is generally understood as more of a persistent negative attitude toward others and the world (Thomas, 2001).
Anger can range in intensity from low-level annoyance to fire-breathing fury (Staicu & Cuţov, 2010) and can bring about changes in physiology, such as increased blood pressure (Lochman, Palardy, McElroy, Phillips, & Holmes, 2004).
The origins of anger can be external or internal. Some examples of external anger triggers could be:
- Feeling unfairly treated by your boss
- Believing a romantic partner is taking you for granted
- Being denied equal access to a resource on illegitimate grounds, such as your gender, age, or race
What exactly gets your blood boiling is unique, and many factors could influence how you feel, express, and manage anger, including:
- Learned behavior (e.g., watching how parents express anger)
- Genetic predispositions
- Environment and experiences
- Difficulties with problem solving (Hendricks, Bore, Aslinia, & Morriss, 2013)
Why anger is useful
Anger is a red flag that lets us know when something unjust has happened and action is required to remedy it (Lambert et al., 2019). When appropriate and proportionate, anger can be useful if it motivates us to deal with a perceived threat or correct an unjust situation (Lambert et al., 2019; Thomas, 2001).
Anger can lead to violence, but these terms are not synonymous. People can harm others without being angry, and being angry doesn’t always end in aggression or violence. If anger can be communicated constructively, this could even reduce the chances of aggression if apologies can be made and relationships repaired (Thomas, 2001).
Differences in anger management
Our personal beliefs, principles, and values determine what we perceive to be threatening or unjust in the world. A source of intense anger for one person may not even register on someone else’s radar (Thomas, 2001).
Negative or traumatic experiences in someone’s past may predispose them to anger management issues for various reasons. If you have been let down or abused by people close to you, this can make it more difficult to trust people and assume the best in others. Other mental health issues or low self-esteem can also contribute to anger management difficulties (Priory, 2020).
Our skills in handling and expressing anger also differ. Some people struggle to deal with anger in the moment and may not be able to calm themselves. Other people may have difficulty communicating their emotions calmly and respectfully (Priory, 2020).
- Difficulties managing and expressing emotion in healthy ways
- Problems in social, romantic, or work relationships because of behaviors stemming from anger
- Substance misuse and/or addiction
- Turning anger toward the self through self-harm or social withdrawal
- The ability to work or study is impacted by anger or related behavior
- Difficulty negotiating or coming to an agreement with others calmly
- Anger is intense and/or occurs very often
- Being very quick to rise to anger
- Angry feelings continue for a long time
- Getting very angry or violent when drinking alcohol
- Violent, antisocial, or aggressive behavior
- Encountering issues with law enforcement due to anger-related behaviors (Lench, 2004; Priory, 2020; Thomas, 2001)
Ultimately, if anger is not serving your best interests, health, or relationships and/or causing problems in your life, it is likely dysfunctional (Lench, 2004).
Anger management therapy turned things around – Make the Connection
Most of the research surrounding anger management therapy has focused on Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and as such, CBT has been the dominant form of therapy in this area (Lee & DiGiuseppe, 2018).
CBT and anger management
CBT emphasizes important links between how we feel, the thoughts and beliefs we have, and the behaviors we carry out and is a highly effective treatment for psychiatric and nonclinical groups (Lee & DiGiuseppe, 2018).
A meta-analysis combining 50 studies and 1,640 participants found that people receiving CBT for anger had more positive outcomes than 76% of people who didn’t have treatment (Beck & Fernandez, 1998).
CBT anger management interventions have been effective at helping a variety of populations, such as people with high blood pressure, angry drivers, people in prison, college students, police officers, and parents (Deffenbacher, Oetting & DiGiuseppe, 2002).
Relaxation-based interventions deal with the emotional and physiological experience of anger.
People learn to use relaxation to cope with anger and lower their arousal. Being in a more relaxed frame of mind can help people think through their behaviors and use their skills in conflict management and problem solving (Deffenbacher et al., 2002).
During stress inoculation training, individuals rehearse an internal dialogue to walk themselves through how they would deal with an anger-inducing situation.
They may create a repertoire of coping statements or think through how they will challenge negative appraisals of the situation.
Through practicing this self-guiding dialogue, they can begin to approach situations with greater self-control and lower levels of arousal (Deffenbacher et al., 2002).
Cognitive restructuring begins as an error-finding mission, where clients are supported to recognize dysfunctional or biased beliefs and thinking processes that lead to anger, such as overly personalizing comments from others or unhelpful beliefs such as “people never listen to me.”
Clients are then supported to develop alternative thinking processes that are more helpful, rational, and aligned with reality (Deffenbacher et al., 2002).
Social skills training
Social skills interventions aim to reduce destructive and antagonistic behaviors and help people develop stronger communication and conflict management skills.
Some skills the client is supported to develop are listening and assertiveness , thinking about the impact of their behavior on others, and negotiation (Deffenbacher et al., 2002).
Being able to communicate more effectively can reduce anger in itself, and improving skills to deal with anger-inducing situations can stop conflict from spiraling (Deffenbacher et al., 2002).
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There are many ways to help clients notice, express, and manage their anger in more constructive ways. Importantly, anger management therapy is not likely to be appropriate for people with certain conditions, such as neurological disorders, psychosis, personality disorders, or paranoia (Thomas, 2001).
Below, we’ve listed some interventions that may be helpful when working with someone with problematic anger.
Retreat, rethink, respond
This simple intervention supports clients to think about how they can postpone reacting angrily to a situation. A typical negative reaction pattern is to react (e.g., shout at someone), retreat (remove yourself from the situation or be removed), and then rethink (go over your actions and what you could have done differently) after the damage is done.
To disrupt this negative cycle, you can help the client work out how they could shift this habitual reaction to first retreat to a mental space, rethink the event, and then respond more thoughtfully (Schimmel & Jacobs, 2011).
The 7/11 technique
In the heat of the moment, it can be helpful for clients to reach for a tried-and-tested anger management breathing technique to help them relax, clear their mind, and activate their parasympathetic (“rest and digest”) nervous system (Tyrrell, 2018).
Help your client practice these steps when they next feel angry:
- Stop and focus on your breath
- Breathe in for a quick count of 7
- Breathe out for a quick count of 11
- Keep going for at least 1 minute
- Reflect on the consequences of responding from this more relaxed place (Tyrrell, 2018)
Norman Cotterell’s 7 steps for anger
Norman Cotterell, PhD, is a senior clinician at the Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and advocates a seven-step intervention for anger management.
Preparation: Cost–benefit analysis
Before delving into the interventions, Cotterell (2021) suggests a simple way to empower clients to choose to address problematic anger is to do a cost–benefit analysis.
Here’s how it goes:
- Ask the client to write down qualities of someone who manages their anger in a way they admire.
- Next, ask them to weigh up the costs and benefits of being like this person and the costs and benefits of getting angry.
- Ask the client to give a rating of how important each cost and benefit is.
- Tally up the scores at the end and ask the client whether the costs outweigh the benefits of continuing to be angry. Do the same with the costs/benefits of being like the person they admire. (Cotterell, 2021)
Step 1: What “should” rule is broken?
Anger is triggered when one of our “should” rules is broken; for example, “They should be honest with me” or “He should return my call.” Acknowledging which rule is broken gives us the choice to accept what’s happened or continue to fight against it.
“Should” rules also hint at what our positive values are, which can be helpful to reflect on. For example, “he should pay for half” could show that you care about fairness and equality (Cotterell, 2021).
The client is then asked to think about what they would like for themselves long term and how they can constructively deal with rule-breaking situations while still acting in line with their values (Cotterell, 2021).
Step 2: What is hurtful or scary about this rule being broken?
Explore why it’s painful that someone breaks your rules. What does that signal to you? Does it confirm negative beliefs you have about others or yourself?
Here, it’s useful to explore the evidence for their beliefs and consider more helpful ways of interpreting the behavior of others (Cotterell, 2021).
Step 3: “Hot thoughts”
Identify thoughts that are very “hot” or emotional and try to change reactive thoughts; for example, change “He’s an idiot” to the more reflective thought, “He made an honest mistake” (Cotterell, 2021).
Step 4: Anger
Learning to manage the arousal associated with anger can be done with classic relaxation practices, such as visualizations and progressive muscle relaxation . Cotterell (2021) suggests you could also explore anger as a source of energy that can be useful when it’s directed toward realizing our values and principles.
When anger results in behaviors that we would judge to be unacceptable or immoral, it can become hypocritical (Cotterell, 2021).
Step 5: Moral Disengagement
Explore any beliefs or justifications for using anger destructively, such as “He started it” or “They were deliberately pushing my buttons.”
These rationalizations essentially make us feel better about doing bad things. Encourage the client to assess the pros and cons of these justifications and what they can gain from having greater patience and empathy for others (Cotterell, 2021).
Step 6: Aggression
This step involves taking a closer look at the problematic behaviors stemming from anger. The client can be asked to empathize with people who make them feel angry or whom they act aggressively toward. This is a perspective-taking exercise to help the client manage their anger, the anger of others, and increase opportunities for constructive communication (Cotterell, 2021).
Step 7: Outcome
In this final stage, you can work with the client to decrease feelings of guilt and to understand that if they experience anger episodes again, they are not a failure. Each time this happens is an opportunity to learn and to disrupt the anger cycle with the strategies and skills they’ve acquired (Cotterell, 2021).
It can lead to job problems, relationship breakdowns, and even criminal charges (Priory, 2020).
Anger in the longer term can also be bad for our health. Regularly experiencing negative emotions like anger can lead to chronic activation of the body’s stress response system (Davidson & Mostofsky, 2010).
One 10-year study found that lower levels of constructive anger and higher levels of destructive anger justification in men and women are linked to increased risk for coronary heart disease (Davidson & Mostofsky, 2010).
Anger can also lead to unhealthy lifestyle choices and has been linked with the development of type 2 diabetes, possibly because of inflammation associated with a stressed-out body or as a result of poor health behaviors (Staicu & Cuţov, 2010).
Anger that is managed through destructive and aggressive means can lead to violence, domestic abuse , bullying, or abusive parenting practices (Deffenbacher et al., 2002).
Being able to communicate anger in constructive ways is healthy, can enhance relationships, and helps avoid unnecessary conflict or aggression.
If you’re currently working with a client to improve their anger management skills and awareness, these free tools and exercises may come in handy for your sessions.
- Anger Exit and Re-Entry This worksheet helps clients recognize when best to disengage from conflict or difficult conversations, cool down, and re-engage later to facilitate greater insight and joint problem-solving.
- Neutralizing Judgmental Thoughts This exercise helps clients recognize judgmental thoughts and “should” viewpoints and replace them with less critical alternatives.
- Countdown to Calmness This mindfulness exercise invites clients to use all five senses to ground themselves, induce calm, and mindfully accept things the way they are.
- Impact of My Anger This worksheet helps clients capture examples of behavior spurred by anger to consider who has been impacted by it and how.
- Anger Management for Teens: Helpful Worksheets & Resources This article is dedicated to providing specific resources for anger management pertaining teens , a period when life challenges require a unique understanding.
- Anger Management for Kids: 14 Best Activities & Worksheets Similar to our teens article, anger management for kids deals with the unique challenges of helping children resolve these challenging emotional problems.
- 15 Anger Management Tests & Quizzes to Use in Your Sessions This article containing anger management tests has many practical and valuable resources for your practice.
- 14 Anger Management Books & Workbooks for Therapists & Kids Even if you are not a book worm, you’ll be able to pick and choose from 14 books on anger management to find the one best suited to you.
- 17 Positive Communication Exercises If you’re looking for more science-based ways to help others communicate better, this collection contains 17 validated positive communication tools for practitioners . Use them to help others improve their communication skills and form deeper and more positive relationships.
Anger is a natural emotion that can be useful and highly functional in society. But, as Aristotle put it:
Anybody can become angry—that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way—that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.
It’s true, managing our anger can be hard, especially if we haven’t learned skills to express anger constructively. When anger becomes a problem, it can have serious repercussions for the angry individual and those around them.
Thankfully, most of us can develop our anger management skills. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy is a highly effective anger management therapy. It works by empowering people to see how their thinking processes and beliefs can be a catalyst for anger and aggressive behaviors, and encourages them to learn alternative and more helpful thinking strategies and coping mechanisms to deal with anger when it does arise.
We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Positive Relationships Exercises for free .
- Beck, R., & Fernandez, E. (1998). Cognitive-behavioral therapy in the treatment of anger: A meta-analysis. Cognitive Therapy and Research , 22 (1), 63–74.
- Cotterell, N. (2021, June 8). Seven steps for anger. The Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavior Therapy. Retrieved from https://beckinstitute.org/blog/seven-steps-for-anger/
- Davidson, K. W., & Mostofsky, E. (2010). Anger expression and risk of coronary heart disease: Evidence from the Nova Scotia Health Survey. American Heart Journal , 159 (2), 199–206.
- Deffenbacher, J. L., Oetting, E. R., & DiGiuseppe, R. A. (2002). Principles of empirically supported interventions applied to anger management. The Counseling Psychologist , 30 , 262–280.
- Hendricks, L., Bore, S., Aslinia, D., & Morriss, G. (2013). The effects of anger on the brain and body. National Forum Journal of Counseling and Addiction , 2 (1), 1–12.
- Lambert, A. J., Eadeh, F. R., & Hanson, E. J. (2019). Anger and its consequences for judgment and behavior: Recent developments in social and political psychology. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology , 59 , 103–173.
- Lee, A. H., & DiGiuseppe, R. (2018). Anger and aggression treatments: A review of meta-analyses. Current Opinion in Psychology , 19 , 65–74.
- Lench, H. C. (2004). Anger management: Diagnostic differences and treatment implications. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology , 23 (4), 512–531.
- Lochman, J. E., Palardy, N. R., McElroy, H. K., Phillips, N., & Holmes, K. J. (2004). Anger management interventions. Journal of Early and Intensive Behavior Intervention , 1 (1), 47–56.
- Priory. (2020). Anger management symptoms . Retrieved from https://www.priorygroup.com/mental-health/anger-management/symptoms-of-anger-management
- Schimmel, C. J, & Jacobs, E. (2011). Ten creative counseling techniques for helping clients deal with anger. VISTAS Online , 53 . American Counseling Association.
- Staicu, M. L., & Cuţov, M. (2010). Anger and health risk behaviors. Journal of Medicine and Life , 3 (4), 372–375.
- Thomas, S. P. (2001). Teaching healthy anger management. Perspectives in Psychiatric Care , 37 , 41–48.
- Tyrrell, M. (2018, May 7). How to use CBT for anger management . Mark Tyrrell’s Therapy Skills. Retrieved from https://www.unk.com/blog/how-to-use-cbt-for-anger-management/
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Je tenais à prendre un moment pour vous féliciter chaleureusement pour votre article inspirant et captivant !
thank you for doing good work to help those who can’t control their anger. I am sure that a reader who is looking for very useful information about how to deal with his or her anger will be so happy to read all these so good information. thank you so much to Dr. Brown for the helpful work.
Hello Sir/Mam Request for anger counselling for my Son
I’m afraid we don’t provide counselling services through our site. However, Psychology Today has a great directory you can use to find therapists in your local area. Usually, the therapists provide a summary in their profile with their areas of expertise and types of issues they are used to working with: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists
I hope this helps.
– Nicole | Community Manager
It would be nice if there would be some more exercises, with the articles. The reason I say that is because some people don’t have the money to get these exercises all the time. So, if there were some more exercises, we can help those brothers and sisters, that’s having behavior problems. As a case manager, I don’t make enough money to be buying these exercises all the time’s.
You’ll find a range of free anger management exercises and activities in our Anger Management Guide blog post , which includes anger diary templates and reflections. Perhaps these will help!
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7 anger management tips to prevent relationship damage
Do you fume when someone cuts you off in traffic? Does your blood pressure rocket when your child refuses to cooperate? Do you lash out quickly and later regret so doing? If so, you're not alone. Everyone experiences anger from time to time.
Anger is a normal and even healthy emotion. Like all emotions, it gives us insight into how we just perceived an event. But it's important to deal with it in a positive way. Uncontrolled anger can take a toll on your health and relationships.
If you're often feeling angry, or if those feeling are causing problems at home or at work, here are seven tips to help you regain control:
1. think before you speak..
One of the best tactics is to take a pause before reacting. If your heart is pounding and you feel like yelling at your friend, family member or the guy who just pulled in front of you in traffic, stop. Take a breath. Count to 10. Do whatever it takes to avoid lashing out and saying or doing something you'll regret.
2. Once you're calm, state what upset you.
What is the more correct feeling in response to what happened? Identify the deeper feeling. Maybe you feel unimportant because your spouse didn't help clean up the kitchen after you made dinner. Or you feel used because your son borrowed your car and returned it with a nearly empty gas tank — again. Address the circumstance and person clearly and directly, using an "I" statement. For example, say, "I'm upset that you left me without enough gas to get to work" or "I resent it when I work to prepare a meal and you don't help clean up afterward."
3. Use humor to release tension.
Lightening up can help diffuse tension. Use humor to help you face what's making you angry. Laugh at yourself for unrealistic expectations you have for how things should go. Laugh at yourself but avoid sarcasm. It often aims to hurt others to make a point about how you are feeling. Don't be passive-aggressive either.
4. Take a timeout.
Timeouts aren't just for kids. Being self-aware about your energy level is helpful so you can take care of your needs and be the best you can be. Give yourself short breaks during times of the day that tend to be stressful. A few moments of quiet time might help you feel better prepared to handle what's ahead without getting irritated or angry.
5. Get exercise.
Physical activity can help reduce stress that can cause you to become angry. Exercise is often prescribed to improve mood. The endorphins produced from physical exertion are natural pick-me-ups and stress reducers. If you feel your anger escalating, go for a brisk walk or run, or spend some time doing other enjoyable physical activities.
6. Practice relaxation skills.
Using any, or all, of your six senses to provide relaxing input can improve calmness. Practice deep-breathing exercises, get a warm drink, smell some pleasant scents, go outside and feel the crisp air, stretch your muscles, imagine a relaxing scene, listen to calming music or repeat a calming word or phrase, such as "Take it easy." Yoga and meditation also are good tools to use to help you stay calm. When you're taking care of yourself, it's easier to deal with the challenges life throws your way.
7. Don't hold a grudge.
Forgiveness is a powerful tool. Holding on to the offenses of others and hoping they will feel your pain or repay you for their error only affects you. If you allow anger and other negative feelings to crowd out positive feelings, you might find yourself swallowed up by your own bitterness or sense of injustice. But if you can forgive someone who hurt you (i.e., write the debt owed you to zero) you release the weight and are no longer bogged down and hoping for "pay-back."
Learning to control anger is a challenge at times for everyone. If changes like these aren't enough to help you control your anger, reach out to a mental health specialist for support. Seek help for anger issues if your anger seems out of control, causes you to do things you regret or hurts those around you.
Rich Oswald is a psychotherapist in Psychiatry and Psychology in Eau Claire and Menomonie , Wisconsin.
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Tips for Managing Anger
Approaches to managing anger, strategies for dealing with anger, you’re not alone.
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Anger is a natural feeling, especially when we feel threatened or attacked in some way. Feeling anger and responding defensively is an instinctual survival skill. And, it’s also a natural, instinctive response to lash out when feeling threatened or angry . Read on for tips on how you can manage anger in most situations.
And as always, if you feel you have an anger management problem, there are ways to get help. Text “START” to 741-741 or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
There are three approaches that we suggest for managing anger: expressing, suppressing, and calming.
There’s a reason people use phrases like “he exploded with anger.” If we suppress our anger or don’t find ways to express it healthfully, it’s bound to pop back up, and may show up in unexpected or aggressive ways. This is why it’s important to acknowledge anger and do our best to figure out what’s underneath the anger and find healthy ways to express how we’re feeling. Sometimes it can take some honest self-reflection time to figure out what’s causing the feelings of vulnerability, threat or injustice that most often underlie anger. During this time it may be helpful to talk with someone who can help you figure out what’s happening and who can provide a sounding board for ideas about how to express it in productive ways. After that, it’s important to express the anger and, if possible the underlying causes, to the person/people who need to hear what you have to say.
While suppressing anger over the long haul can make things worse, there are moments when we just need to step back and take a pause so we can avoid acting out in harmful or inappropriate ways. It’s OK to say something like, “I need to take a step back to calm down and regroup. I’ll come back to you when I’m ready to talk.”
During this time it can be helpful to take some deep breaths, listen to music, or participate in an activity that can distract you from your anger for a few minutes (a game on your phone, watching silly YouTube videos). Keep in mind that unless the situation is time sensitive, it’s fine to take the time you need to calm down and get ready to address what happened and the anger you felt in response.
While suppression is about preventing negative reactions in the moment, calming is about dealing with our internal reactions. Calming techniques slow our heart rate and let those big feelings give way to a little more inner peace. Breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, or simple movements are all good ways to find a calmer internal space so it’s more productive to express and examine our thoughts and feelings.
Relaxation and Self-Care
Our ongoing relaxation and self-care routine plays an important role in our overall mental health and in managing anger when it arises. This is because our response to anger reflects our state of mind in combination with the coping skills we have available to us at the time. If we’re tired, overwhelmed, and on edge, it’s going to be a lot easier to get angry (think about a cranky baby). Similarly, if we’re at peace inside, then a situation that would have caused anger may simply wash over us.
Find activities that help you feel more relaxed, like exercise, long walks, meditation apps, or reading, and make time in your schedule for them as frequently as possible. Additionally, getting enough sleep and avoiding caffeine, or anything that makes us feel jittery, can also help with keeping our anger at bay.
One effective strategy for managing anger is called “cognitive restructuring.” That’s simply a fancy term for challenging the internal dialogue that’s contributing to anger by reframing it in a way that causes less suffering. For example, if someone ignores our ideas in a meeting, or interrupts us while we’re sharing those ideas, our inner monologue might scream, “No one values my talent at this company or is respectful to me as a person.” A reframed version of that experience may be something like “everyone is especially on edge right now and they all want to stand out.”
Let’s unpack this a little. While you might want to say something immediately, sometimes it’s best to not say anything in the moment or process it in real time. When we’re feeling calmer and have controlled some of the initial physical and psychological reactions to our anger, we can look at those internal assumptions. Are there times when people value my opinion and listen to me? Yes. Does the person who interrupted me always ignore my ideas? No.Could this be more about the fact that there are rumors of layoffs and so everyone is trying to step up their game and be heard?Probably.Anger is often about how we perceive other people viewing us or treating us, and that can often have more to do with them than it does with us.
Problem solving is especially helpful when it relates to recurring sources of anger. Do you start your morning angry because you always forget something and have to go back to the house? Do you get ticked off every day at something a coworker does that makes your job harder? Starting off a day like this can affect everything that happens afterward. Once you notice the pattern in when and why you become angry, you have more options. For example, make a list of things you could do to help alleviate specific sources of anger and experiment by trying them out to see which best help the situations from happening or bothering you in the first place.
Listen More, Communicate Better
Often, when we get angry at things other people say to or about us, our internal monologue starts finishing their sentences. A boss saying, “I feel like we can do better than this report…” might be intended to help challenge you to look for a better solution, but our internal monologue runs with a narrative that our work isn’t appreciated and everyone takes us for granted. Instead of shutting down and listening to the internal monologue or reacting quickly, try just really listening with the intention of getting it. Ask simple clarifying questions to better understand someone else’s perspective and intent before you jump to conclusions. It can be an ego buster at times, but authentic curiosity and willingness to learn and grow, even when it costs us, is really powerful and has benefits all of its own.
One reason that journaling can be a powerful anger management tool is that writing about the big or difficult emotions we feel daily can help us identify trends and triggers. Do you have outbursts of anger on deadline day when everyone’s asking for things while you’re trying to finish urgent work? Instead, can you notify people you’re unavailable for the day or find a more private place to work? Do you find yourself angry every time you see a specific friend or family member? Maybe that’s a sign that the relationship is unhealthy and you should take a step back or create some distance. Become a student of yourself and watch how the simple act of seeing your patterns can change the patterns.
Seek Professional Support
Sometimes we think of therapy as a last resort when things get bad or we’re dealing with mental health conditions like depression. The truth is that therapists and counselors are trained to help us track, understand, and transform emotions — big and small. Reaching out for help is a sign of strength. Don’t you owe it to yourself to at least try a few sessions of therapy to see if it can help in coming up with an effective anger management plan for you?
Remember, anger is a normal emotion. But if you feel that your anger is becoming unmanageable, there are ways you can cope and people who can help.
Report: what colleges should know about teletherapy and how to pick the best telehealth vendor for your students.
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