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.
Research consistently shows that cognitive behavioral interventions are effective for improving anger management.1 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.
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.1 Without fuel, the fire inside you will begin to dwindle and you'll feel calmer.
The best way to manage your anger is to create an anger management control plan. Then, you'll know what to do when you start feeling upset.
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 — and allow others involved in the situation to do the same.
2. Once you're calm, express your anger
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 drive you crazy? 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. Remind yourself that anger won't fix anything and might only make it worse.
6. Stick with 'I' statements
To avoid criticizing or placing blame — which might only increase tension — 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. But if you can forgive someone who angered you, you might 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 is a challenge for everyone 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.