Anger is a natural, healthy emotion and can be a healthy response to some situations. However, it can be the behaviors motivated by anger that may be unhealthy or unhelpful. If your anger feels uncontrollable or you often act out when angry, you may benefit from adopting research-based anger management techniques.
These techniques may benefit those who feel angry easily or whose anger grows disproportionately more prominent than the situation causing it. Some anger management techniques may be possible to complete on the go or in the moment to calm yourself immediately before acting. Others might help you prevent your anger from occurring. Although these techniques do not replace professional help, a professional may help you implement them.
14 Anger Management Techniques For Inner Peace
Below are 13 anger management techniques inspired by professional therapeutic techniques you might encounter with a provider or through an anger management class. To understand these tips in further detail or gain a personalized variation, reach out to a mental health professional for further support.
Practice Deep Breathing
Deep breathing has been associated with stress reduction. Anger can often be related to stress, so breathing exercises are one way to tackle two symptoms simultaneously.
Box breathing is a common and effective deep breathing exercise. It involves breathing in slowly as profoundly as you can to the count of four, holding for a count of four, breathing out slowly to the count of four, and holding once more for a count of four. This breathing exercise can be repeated as often as you need, and you might be able to find an app that guides you with imagery and calming sounds as you breathe.
Visualize A Calming Environment
If you can separate yourself from the source of your anger for a few minutes, visualization might help you take a moment to focus on your emotional goals. In this process, try not to visualize yourself harming others. Instead, visualize other representations of your anger.
For example, you could visualize a tornado ripping through a field, tearing up trees, and stirring up dust. Visualizing this imaginary destruction might offer a mental image of the emotions you're experiencing. After a few minutes, imagine the tornado dissipating with your anger. In its place, consider a rainbow, a soft mist, and a shining green field.
If you aren't sure how to engage in visualization in a way that helps you, you may try a guided meditation online. Many guided meditations are free and might be oriented toward a specific type of anger or symptom to help you calm down.
Journaling may help you notice patterns in your thinking, which can be advantageous in the long term by pointing out areas of growth you might not initially notice. When angry, remove yourself from the situation, sit down, and write out your thoughts and feelings. Some people find it therapeutic to journal with paper and pen to slow themselves down. Others might use a phone or computer to get their thoughts out quickly and conveniently.
Find A Physical Release Of Anger
In some cases, you might feel that your anger is so intense that it causes physical sensations like burning skin, clenching muscles, or nausea. You may notice a spike in adrenaline or physical energy.
Vent To Someone You Trust
Social connections have benefits for mental and physical health. Emotional repression is correlated with negative health impacts and can worsen anger, so you might try reaching out to someone you love to vent or socialize with. Venting to someone, whether they're a hotline volunteer, therapist, or a friend, might offer validation and a sense of camaraderie.
If you want to vent but aren't seeking advice, let the individual know beforehand. In addition, ask for emotional consent before unloading your thoughts on another person. A friend might not be in the headspace to hear about emotional topics in some circumstances.
Take A Break
When you feel angry or irritated, take a break. Go to the bathroom and close the door or go to your car and sit for a few minutes. If you're at work, consider focusing on the task at hand and taking a break as soon as you can get a few minutes away from your job.
While on your break, focus on your breathing and calm your thoughts. You can use visualization techniques to imagine yourself in a relaxing place, like a clearing in the woods or your favorite place to go camping. Try to find imaginary stimuli in your visualization that engage the senses. For example, if you're visualizing a forest, you might imagine what smells you can notice and what sounds you hear.
Consider The Underlying Cause Of Your Anger
Anger is sometimes a secondary emotion caused by an underlying need. Difficulty with anger management can sometimes pair with difficulty identifying emotional, psychological, social, or physical needs. Take a break to ask yourself what you need and how you can accomplish that need. You can also consider whether your anger resulted from sadness, fear, guilt, disgust, or another emotion. Targeting the initial emotion may be more effective than targeting the anger if this is the case.
Try Cognitive Restructuring
Cognitive restructuring is a coping skill from cognitive-behavioral therapy that has been proven effective in helping individuals cope with anger. Restructuring your thoughts can involve acknowledging those that may be maladaptive and taking a moment to reframe them.
How you talk to yourself may impact you the same way you talk to others could impact them. When you tell yourself statements like, "Everything is ruined," you might increase a painful emotion. To change the thought to a more productive but still validating option, you might tell yourself, "This situation is upsetting, and it's understandable to be angry. However, I'm ready to find solutions."
Cognitive restructuring may be difficult to establish as a skill on your own. Consider contacting a cognitive-behavioral therapist if you'd like to further explore how this skill might support you.
Some people feel angry when they feel out of control of a situation. If you can pinpoint a problem that caused you to feel angry, try to change your focus to a problem-solving lens. You can use the energy of your anger to consider what might put an end to the situation or make it less impactful.
Look at parts of the situation that are in your power instead of those that aren't. For example, if you're angry with your coworkers for removing your files by accident, remind yourself that mistakes can occur and that you have the option to back up files in the future to a personal USB stick or separate locked folder. You can also work on forgiveness and cope with the frustration of re-doing your work by using it as an opportunity to grow and learn more than you might have the first time.
Practice Radical Acceptance
If you're angry about a situation that is out of your control, you might benefit from a dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) skill called radical acceptance. Follow the below steps:
- Observe how you might be questioning or fighting your reality.
- Remind yourself that your reality cannot be changed in this situation.
- Try to note any causes for the reality. Acknowledge how many people do not have control over life's challenges, but you can control how you proceed.
- Practice acceptance with your mind, body, and spirit. Use positive self-talk to tell yourself you are willing to accept this situation, even if it is difficult.
- List all the behaviors you'd partake in if you already accepted this situation. Then act this way until you find it aligns with your reality.
- Cope ahead by thinking of ways to accept the situation if it worsens.
- Attend to your body sensations using mindfulness or meditation to connect with yourself.
- Allow disappointment, sadness, grief, or anger to arise if they do. Note them and do not act on them. Give them the space to exist.
- Acknowledge that life can be worth living, even when there is anger.
- Create a pros and cons list if you are resisting acceptance further.
Humor is one way to diffuse anger in some scenarios. When you can find the humor in a situation and laugh about it, you might start to feel better. Laughing is known to relieve stress, which can correlate with anger. When you feel angry, your body may get tense. Laughter can cause a sensation of lightness or detachment from unwanted thoughts.
Change Your Environment
In the immediate moment of getting angry, consider stepping away to change your environment. Going outside, for example, may help you find emotional and physical relief. If it's possible to change your environment, you might pair this activity with mindfulness by finding five objects in your new environment that you might not have noticed if you were passing by.
Establish Readiness For Anger Management
One study suggests that if someone is not ready for anger management, they might struggle to find use from therapy. For this reason, working toward a state of readiness and willingness may be advantageous. One of the first steps can be accepting that your anger is an area you'd like to work on. Anger management concerns can be common, and you're not alone.
Some people may find it challenging to apply anger management tools independently. If you relate, reaching out for professional support might be beneficial. Many licensed mental health professionals are qualified to help individuals develop coping mechanisms for behaviors motivated by complex emotional responses.
However, some people with anger challenges might hesitate to contact a therapist in person. They may feel shame about their situation or fear having an emotional outburst in front of others. An online therapeutic setting may offer a more comfortable alternative in these cases. With online therapy through a platform like BetterHelp, clients can choose between phone, video, or chat sessions depending on their needs. In addition, they can get resources like worksheets or an online journal.
You may worry that online therapy won't alleviate your anger effectively. However, current research suggests otherwise. A recent study confirmed that online anger management interventions could relieve anger alongside co-occurrent concerns like depression. If you're stressed about money, online therapy can also be more cost-effective.
How do you process anger in a healthy way?
To process anger and reduce stress in a healthy way, you generally have to find positive coping mechanisms that work for you. A few to try include deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation exercises, venting to a trusted friend, journaling, taking a break from the situation, focusing on problem-solving, and practicing radical acceptance. You could also work with a therapist to uncover the roots of your anger and learn management strategies for anger problems under their guidance.
How do you overcome anger and irritability?
Some examples of strategies for staying in control when you feel anger escalating can include engaging in relaxation techniques like breathing deeply, repeating a calm word or mantra, venting to a trusted friend, or taking a break from the situation. You could also work with a therapist or anger management counselor for support.
If you find yourself frequently experiencing irritability, note that it could be a symptom of an underlying mental health condition like depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Seeking professional support and treatment for this potential symptom is recommended, as such illnesses generally do not resolve on their own.
How do you help someone with anger management?
Individuals who are working on understanding anger and managing their anger issues can generally benefit from the support of friends and family. To offer this kind of support, you could strive to stay calm yourself in heightened situations or conversations with this person and practice active listening to ensure they feel heard. Setting, encouraging, and respecting boundaries on your part and theirs can be helpful too, as can giving each other space to calm down when needed. You could also encourage them to seek professional support on this journey if they’re not already.
How do you deal with anger (coping mechanism)?
There are many different coping mechanisms that may help you in healthily controlling anger and expressing anger in your personal relationships and everyday life. For example, when you start to notice angry feelings arising, you could breathe deeply, repeat a calming mantra, visualize a calming scene, or count slowly. Taking a break from the situation, focusing on problem-solving, and practicing radical acceptance could help as well.
If you’re looking for support in this area, speaking with a licensed mental health professional may also be worth trying. They can help you understand how different events affect your emotions, what the roots of your angry feelings might be, and how to work on strategies to control anger that could help you reduce the risk of related relationship problems as well as health problems like high blood pressure.
How can I control my emotions and feelings?
We generally can’t control the emotions we feel, but we can learn to control our responses to them. For example, healthily dealing with anger can look like stepping away from the situation to do breathing exercises and gather your thoughts. That way, you can calmly communicate them to the other person rather than letting anger build and then engaging in passive-aggressive behavior or having an outburst. There are many different methods that may help you learn to control your emotional responses, from meditating to relaxation techniques to therapy.
How do you not get affected by others’ behavior?
We can’t control emotions that may arise as a result of the behavior of others, but we can learn to control what we do in response to those emotions. If you’re experiencing uncomfortable emotions as a result of how someone is behaving toward you, striving to understand why you feel this way can be a helpful first step in many cases. Then you may be able to approach the person calmly and explain, using “I” statements, how you felt in response to their behavior, and engage in active listening after that to hear their perspective. Remember that if you think your safety may be at risk because of someone else’s behavior, leaving the situation and seeking support immediately is recommended.
If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse in any form, you can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for immediate support, advice, and assistance.
How do you deal with emotional dysregulation?
First, taking steps to calm your nervous system can be helpful. This can look like doing breathing exercises or progressive muscle relaxation techniques, journaling, repeating a calming mantra, or taking a brisk walk. Next, trying to understand why you felt dysregulated can sometimes give you insight into something you may need to change or do differently, or a past trauma you may need to address. If you’re looking for support with emotional dysregulation, speaking with a therapist is generally an advisable next step.
How do I stop my emotions from controlling me?
Uncontrolled anger or other emotions can be powerful and may significantly affect our behavior. With the right coping strategies, however, you may be able to learn to maintain more control when you experience feelings like these in the future. Practicing mindfulness in your daily life is one way to work toward better emotional control, since it trains your awareness so that you can better notice emotions as they arise. You can also get familiar with strategies designed to help you return to calm, such as breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, and repeating a calming mantra or affirmation.
Can we choose our emotions or do they just happen?
You can’t choose the emotions you feel, but you can engage in healthy strategies to manage them and try to understand why they came up. For example, you generally can’t choose to not feel angry if you feel angry. Instead, you can try deep breathing exercises or visualizations to help yourself calm down. Then, you can direct your energy toward understanding why this emotion came up, what it might be telling you, and how you’d like to act accordingly.
Can you control your thoughts?
It’s generally not possible to control your thoughts. However, through the practice of mindfulness, you can learn to notice them as they arise so you can choose whether to engage with them or not. For example, if you notice anger welling up inside you, you can use the nonjudgmental awareness and curiosity of mindfulness to understand why it’s arising and to maintain more control as it washes over you.
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