14 Anger Management Techniques And How They Work
Updated December 18, 2018
Reviewer Sonya Bruner
Anger is a healthy emotion and a common response to many situations. However, how you handle your anger and what you do when you are angry can cause significant problems at work, school, or at home. If you find that you have seemingly uncontrollable anger, you may benefit from adopting some simple anger management techniques.
Anger management techniques can truly benefit anyone who tends to get angry easily, or anyone whose anger seems to get very big in comparison to the situation at hand. If you seem to have a short fuse with a big bang, anger management techniques can help you keep your cool and have more effective interactions and relationships.
Some of these anger management techniques are things you can do on the spot as soon as you feel your anger growing out of control. Some of them are things you can do to prevent your anger from rising in the first place. And some of them require you to first get out of the situation that has made you angry and get into a quiet place by yourself.
Deep breathing is important for getting your anger under control. However, taking deep breaths alone is often not enough. Trying to clear your mind and breathe deeply may seem like such a challenge that it only makes your anger and frustration worse.
One of the things that you can do to combat this is to do a little imagining with your deep breathing. Instead of breathing deeply to try to force away your anger, breathe into your anger. Imagine that your anger is this driving energy, and as you breathe deeply it gets bigger and bigger. The energy continues to expand until it is far outside of you, and then it can melt away. This might make you feel angrier at first, but it may work to dispel your anger within a few minutes.
If you can separate yourself from the source of your anger for a few minutes, visualization can be helpful in calming yourself and releasing your anger. It is important that you do not visualize harming anyone in this process. Instead, visualize other representations of your anger.
For example, you could visualize an angry tornado ripping through a field, tearing up trees and stirring up dust. Your anger is the tornado, and visualizing this harmless destruction can help you release that anger. After a couple of minutes of the visualization, imagine that the tornado dissipates, along with your anger.
Send Love And Justice
If a specific person makes you angry, try transforming your anger into thoughts of love and justice. Instead of letting your anger get the best of you in bad traffic, send the driver that has made you angry wishes for getting a ticket or having a near miss accident that sets him on the straight and narrow. Instead of allowing your anger to control you, transform your anger into thoughts that you wish the best for the person so that they don't make others angry in the future.
Journaling can be a great way to release anger. As soon as you can after a situation makes you angry, sit down and write out your thoughts and feelings. Some people find it therapeutic to journal with paper and pen so that it forces them to slow down to articulate their thoughts. Other people find it therapeutic to journal on a computer so that they can bang the keys hard as they type.
The key here is to get all of your thoughts and angry energy and emotions out of you in a healthy and nonviolent way. Journaling allows you to give voice to what you are feeling, which is often the best way to allow yourself to calm down and put those feelings behind you.
Physical Release Of Anger
Sometimes you may feel that your anger is such that you absolutely must strike out at something. When this happens, you can use a physical release of anger in a way that doesn't harm anyone or destroy any property, or harm yourself. This requires you to be able to go to a safe place with a soft mat, overstuffed chair, or large fluffy pillows. Your bed is a great place for this exercise.
You can kneel on the bed or mat and put your arms high above your head, then come down with your whole arm from elbow to fingertips or fists onto the bed or mat. Just repeat this violent motion over and over again until you feel your anger release from you. If you are really angry, you might get tired and have to take a break then resume before you will be able to feel that release.
You can also stand with an overstuffed furniture or bed at waist high and strike out with your fists or open palms. The important thing here is that you only strike something soft and giving. You do not want to hurt yourself, and you do not want to damage anything in the process.
Full Body Rage Release
Again, this exercise needs to be done on a soft mat or mattress to avoid hurting yourself. In this exercise, you will lie flat and just go crazy banging your feet, kicking your legs, banging your arms or fists on the mat or mattress beneath you. Throw your whole body into your anger. Imagine a child throwing a temper tantrum. This is exactly what you want to do. Continue until you feel that release.
Vocal Anger Release
Sometimes it can be helpful to be really vocal to release your anger. Sometimes you just feel like you have to yell or scream to get it out. You don't want to yell at anyone, so you'll want to go somewhere you can be alone. Go to an empty parking lot, or a wooded area. Go to your room and yell into a pillow. You could even go sit in your car if you are at work or school.
One of the best vocal anger release anger management techniques is growling. Growling is a very primitive sound that you can do with ferocity and power. Growling is also a good technique because it activates the vagus nerve, which allows for a calming effect.
You could also use statements about your anger to release it. Yelling things like "I am angry" or "You were wrong" or anything that you are feeling can really help you express your anger in a healthy way. Again, make sure that you are doing this alone so that others are not affected by your yelling and anger release.
Exercise can be an excellent release for your anger. Anger is really not just an emotion. It's energy. When you feel angry you have a ton of energy that is seeking release. Exercise can be a healthy release for that energy.
Of course, it is not always possible to exercise when you get angry. However, if you have anger building throughout the day, you can hit the gym after work and get rid of that energy. Taking a walk or going for a run is another form of exercise that you can do to release angry energy. Sometimes if you are in a situation that is making you angry, you can leave that situation and just go for a walk around the block.
Take A Time Out
Time outs aren't just for children. When you feel yourself getting angry or irritated and you are worried that you may easily become angry, take a time out. Go to the bathroom and close the door, or go to your car and sit for a few minutes. Even during a work day there are usually opportunities to take a time out.
When you are in the time out, just focus on your breathing and calming your thoughts. You can use visualization techniques to imagine yourself in a soothing place like a clearing in the woods or your favorite place to go camping. Visualize yourself in nature or some other favorite place. Try to find things in your visualization that engage the senses.
Cognitive restructuring is another form of anger management technique that can take some practice but will ultimately serve you well. Cognitive restructuring is all about changing the way you think. It requires you to be mindful of your thoughts and replace angry or uncontrolled thoughts with more positive thoughts.
How you talk to yourself is every bit as important as how you talk to others, perhaps more so. When you tell yourself negative things like "everything is ruined" you are perpetuating a negative emotion. When you change your thinking to tell yourself "this is upsetting and it's understandable to be angry but now it's time to find solutions" you turn that negative energy into something positive.
Cognitive restructuring is not always possible on your own. You may need to get help with this important tool. Studies have shown that cognitive behavioral techniques such as these are among the most effective of anger management techniques. The easiest way to learn these techniques is to go through cognitive behavioral therapy with a therapist.
Often, you may become angry because you are frustrated over a situation. Most anger is caused by some kind of problem. If you can change your focus away from the anger to problem solving, you can diffuse your anger and come up with positive solutions. This is another form of cognitive restructuring. You have to consciously be aware of your thoughts and feelings and stop them in their tracks and change focus to one of solving the problem at hand.
Humor is a great way to diffuse anger. When you can find the humor in a situation and laugh about it, you will find that your anger is instantly released. It is important that you do not make a situation worse by laughing at someone out of hand. You should also avoid sarcasm, as this can perpetuate an argument and hurt the feelings of others. However, if you can think of something funny about the situation and give voice to it in a positive way you may be able to diffuse not only your own anger but the anger of the person you are arguing with.
Changing Your Environment
One of the things you can immediately do when you are feeling yourself getting angry or frustrated is change your environment. Sometimes escaping the situation is the best thing that you can do. This may require you to leave the room or office for a short period of time. Think of this as kind of a timeout, but for a longer period of time.
You can also change your environment in a lasting way that will help you manage your anger. For example, if you are frequently losing your temper because your child does not clean their room, make sure that the door stays shut so that you don't have to look at it. Since seeing it makes you angry, this small change in your environment can help you prevent that anger.
Readiness For Anger Management
If the above anger management techniques do not work for you, there may be a problem with your readiness to be able to embrace them. One research study that was done suggests that if someone is not ready for anger management, no amount of therapy or tools will help them manage their anger. You must put yourself in a state of readiness to overcome your anger problems, which usually entails understanding the problems that your anger is causing in your everyday life and relationships.
When you are ready for anger management and you struggle with using these anger management techniques, it is time to seek help. A therapist can really help you evaluate what makes you angry and give you tools to change your thinking and manage your feelings. They can work with you to determine the best ways for you to manage and avoid your anger.