13 Anger Management Techniques To Promote Calm
Anger is a natural, healthy emotion and a common response to many situations. However, 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 benefit anyone who tends to get angry easily or anyone whose anger seems to grow disproportionately large in comparison to the situation at hand. If you seem to have a short temper and/or explosive outbursts of anger, 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 to an unhealthy level, whereas others are things you can do to prevent your anger from rising in the first place. Although these techniques do not replace professional help, a professional can help you implement them if needed.
Deep breathing is often useful for managing both anxiety and anger, which sometimes go hand-in-hand. Breathing exercises are one way to engage in deep breathing, and research shows that they are an effective way to help relieve both stress and anger.
For example, box breathing is a common and effective deep breathing exercise. It involves breathing in slowly as deeply as you can to the count of four, holding for a count of four, breathing out slowly to the count of four, and holding at the bottom for a count of four. This is repeated several times or as many times as needed. To further increase the effect, you can try picturing a place that makes you feel calm and happy while you are breathing.
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. Visualizing this imaginary destruction can help you release that anger. After a couple of minutes of the visualization, imagine that the tornado dissipates, along with your anger.
If you aren’t sure how to engage in visualization in a way that helps you, you may try a guided meditation that includes visualization. Often, if you search online, you can find these for free, and sometimes, they may relate to a specific topic like relief from anger.
Journaling can be another way to release anger. It can also help you notice patterns in your personal thinking, which can be advantageous in the long-term. 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, whereas others may use technology.
4. Physical Release Of Anger
Sometimes, you may feel that your anger is so strong that you feel it in your body. You may notice a spike in adrenaline or energy that shows up not just emotionally, but physically too. A physical release through running, kickboxing, or another form of physical activity - even a brisk walk - can help. In fact, studies show that physical activity is highly supportive of anger management.
Social connections are very helpful for overall health. On the other hand, emotional repression is correlated with negative health impacts and can worsen anger. Venting to someone, whether that’s a hotline volunteer, a therapist, or a friend, can help. Additionally, if you want to vent but do not want advice, you can let the listener know beforehand.
6. Take A Timeout
Timeouts aren't just for children. When you feel yourself getting angry or irritated, take a timeout. Go to the bathroom and close the door or go to your car and sit for a few minutes. Even during a workday, there are usually opportunities to take a time out.
When you are in the “time out,” you may 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.
7. Look At Your Needs
Not always, but sometimes, anger is indicative of a greater need. Consequently, trouble with anger management can sometimes pair with difficulty identifying your emotional, psychological, social, or physical needs. It might be helpful to ask yourself, “What do I need right now?” or, “Is there a deeper need that I can pinpoint or acknowledge that relates to how I feel?”
8. Cognitive Restructuring
Cognitive restructuring is something we can all benefit from, and while it can be used in many ways, it can also help with anger specifically. Typically, restructuring involves acknowledging a thought that may be maladaptive and actively working to reframe or challenge it.
How you talk to yourself may be every bit as important as how you talk to others, perhaps more so. When you tell yourself negative things like "Everything is ruined," you could be 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 that can help you move forward.
Cognitive restructuring is not always easy to establish as a skill on your own. You may need to get help with this important tool. The best way to learn these techniques is often through cognitive behavioral therapy with a licensed therapist.
9. Problem Solving
Often, one may become angry because they are frustrated over a situation. This may be applicable if you can pinpoint a particular thing that makes you angry. If you can change your focus to realistic problem-solving, you may be able to diffuse your anger and come up with positive solutions. This can sometimes pair with cognitive restructuring. Look at things that are in your power as opposed to what is not. For example, if you’re angry with a partner because they didn’t support you the way you needed when you were sad, for example, you may take a breather and then have a problem-solving conversation later when you discuss how to navigate this situation together in the future.
10. Radical Acceptance
We just talked about problem-solving, but what about scenarios in which there’s no clear solution? Radical acceptance may be valuable. Maybe, you are upset with a parent for things that happened in the distant or recent past, but they refuse to go to family therapy, validate your feelings, or talk things out. Unlike the example above with a romantic partner who may be willing to have a problem-solving conversation, you may need to accept that you can’t change your parents. What you can do, perhaps, is set boundaries, feel your feelings, and focus on being the best person you can be.
11. Using Humor
Humor is one way to diffuse anger in some scenarios. When you can find the humor in a situation and laugh about it, you may find that you feel better. Laughing is known to relieve stress, which can correlate with anger at times. When you feel angry, you might notice that your body feels tense, and that emotional stress weighs you down. Sometimes, utilizing laughter can make you feel lighter inside.
12. Changing Your Environment
One of the things you may be able to do immediately when you are feeling yourself getting angry or frustrated is to change your environment. Going outside, for example, may help you find emotional and physical relief. If it’s possible to change your environment, this can be another way to take a breather or a time out as we mentioned before.
13. Establish Readiness For Anger Management
One research study suggests that if someone is not ready for anger management, it is less likely that therapy or tools will help them manage their anger. Thus, it may be advantageous to work toward a state of readiness to overcome problems related to anger or anger management. This usually entails understanding the problems that your anger is causing in your everyday life and relationships. Anger management concerns are quite common, and there are many potential contributing factors that may be relevant to you.
Some people may find it challenging to apply these tools on their own. It may be time to reach out to someone who can aid you in the process. Many licensed mental health professionals are qualified to help individuals develop better ways of dealing with negative emotions like anger.
People who experience issues with anger management may be hesitant to reach out to a therapist in person, though. They may feel shame about their situation or even fear having an emotional outburst in front of other people. An online therapeutic setting may offer an alternative that feels safer and more comfortable. With online therapy, seeking for help is just a click away, and there’s no need to leave your home to attend sessions.
You may worry that online therapy won’t be effective in alleviating your anger. The current research suggests otherwise. In fact, a recent study confirmed that online anger management interventions relieved not only anger issues, but also other mental health conditions like depression, for instance.
If anger issues are complicating your life, you don’t have to address the problem on your own. Therapists like the independent providers at BetterHelp can help you evaluate behaviors related to anger, give you tools to change your thinking and better manage your feelings, and address any other relevant areas of concern.