Advice For Anger Relief: Tips On How To Calm Down

Medically reviewed by Corey Pitts, MA, LCMHC, LCAS, CCS
Updated March 23, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Anger is a natural part of the human experience; most people feel angry about something sometimes, be it their jobs, their relationships, the state of the world, or even just something they overheard that rubbed them the wrong way. 

While it’s perfectly OK to feel angry sometimes, it’s important to admit that getting angry about something—even when it’s perfectly justified—is rarely the solution to our problems. By examining the factors that influence our anger and learning some effective management techniques, we can work towards controlling it, rather than letting it control you.

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Common causes of anger

Sometimes anger is completely justified. Maybe someone’s reckless driving endangered you or your family, maybe someone took something of yours without asking, or treated someone you care about unfairly. At the same time, anger doesn’t always require an external target. We can just as easily feel angry at ourselves for our past actions, mistakes, or feelings.

In other circumstances, we may find ourselves feeling angry but not understand why or at whom. These are the cases where it’s most important to exercise self-awareness, but a state of anger is rarely conducive to making those sorts of rational assessments. Dealing with anger without a subject can feel very upsetting or confusing, and is often a reaction to something else going on in our lives that may seem entirely unrelated on the surface. For example, feelings of uncontrollable anger can be a symptom of other mental health conditions like anxiety or depression. In those cases, it’s important to address the underlying condition while also working to manage the anger itself. 

Why it’s important to manage our anger

In some ways, feeling angry is just our emotions telling us that we care about something deeply. It can be a powerful motivator when it comes to seeing or experiencing injustice, frustration, or violence. On the flip side, feeling angry can often cloud our judgment, leading us to make rash decisions or say things we end up regretting. 

The thing to remember is that anger isn’t an inherently bad emotion, even though it often feels that way. One of the most important skills to learn for anger relief is reflecting on whether our anger is or isn’t justified, as well as if our anger is in proportion to whatever caused it. 

Anger isn’t just an emotional state. It can be an intensely physical experience, and most often a very unpleasant one.

The American Psychological Association’s research shows that people in states of rage often experience headaches, elevated heart rates, muscle tension, and/or perspiration. They also note that anger can trigger hormonal and neurochemical changes that can have long-term negative effects, including a higher risk of heart disease, strokes, and ulcers.

Lastly, it’s important to learn to manage anger because, generally speaking, people tend to have a hard time being around angry people. People dealing with rage issues often find it has a negative impact on their relationships with friends and loved ones. Naturally, that’s something worth doing our best to avoid.

How to let things go

Of course, this is often much easier said than done. Many of us have likely had a circumstance where we were very upset about something, and know all too well that hearing other’s advice to “just calm down” can sometimes have the opposite of its intended effect. This can be just as true in the long-term as it is in the short. Holding grudges is, in almost all cases, a negative influence on one’s mental health. And while there are plenty of productive strategies for navigating our grievances, they never take the form of retaliatory aggression, which only causes tempers to flare higher.

Behavioral scientists have researched the strengths and benefits of taking a mindfulness approach towards our anger. Their studies on “nonattachment”—a term appropriated from Buddhism that means the same thing as “letting go”—showed a measurable increase in the positive mental health of students who engaged in mindfulness practices like meditation. 

A similar APA study found that mindfulness mediation had both immediate and long-term positive effects for people trying to find relief for their anger. If you’re interested in beginning to practice mindful meditation, there are a plethora of helpful online resources to get you started. Mindful meditation is a way to practice channeling a calm gaze inward, and can help you build your emotional toolkit for dealing with angry thoughts. 

Of course, it’s not always easy to go it alone. Anger management can be a long journey for some, and there’s absolutely no shame in seeking help. Therapy can be incredibly beneficial to people who habitually find themselves struggling to cope with anger on their own. Talking to a professional can help us get out of our own head, as well as open the floor to rational advice when we’re having a hard time thinking straight. 


Anger relief exercises

While something like mindful meditation is a good example of a regular practice for anger management, it’s not always something we might be able to access in the heat of an angry moment. In those cases, we may need to look at other techniques to cool down quickly, in order to avoid letting our anger get out of control. To look at these closer we’re going to break them down into a few categories:

Breathing exercises

We know that it’s almost a cliche to tell people to “take a breath and count to ten”, but the truth is that focusing on your breathing can be very calming. When you get mad your cardiovascular system will often amp up your breathing and heart rates, and getting them back to their normal levels by controlling breathing will help you cool off faster.

There are a lot of different kinds of breathing exercises out there, so it’s worth it to try a few and see which is best for you, but one option is called “square breathing” or sometimes “box breathing”. It’s a simple pattern of breathing in slowly for four seconds, holding that breath for four seconds, breathing out slowly for four seconds, and then waiting another four seconds before starting over again. Doing this for a few cycles can be incredibly calming. For some people, it also helps to imagine a dot traveling along the edges of a square as they perform each step, and going to the next step when that dot turns the corner. Give it a shot!

Visualization exercises

Another way to bring your anger back in line is to channel it into imaginative imagery. For example, you may choose to visualize your emotions as a raging storm at sea by picturing the harsh wind, driving rain, and crashing waves. Then, to bring that chaos back to order, imagine the storm beginning to calm, the wind and rain letting up, the water settling into calm. As you visualize those changes, you may begin to notice a similar sense of calm replacing your anger as well. Of course, that’s just one example of visualization. You can use whatever imagery you feel your mind drawn to.

Take your time with this. The changes from chaos to calm don’t need to be instantaneous. All that you’re trying to do is give your brain space to work through what it’s feeling in a way that’s personal, productive, and non-aggressive.

Get some physical exercise

One of the best exercises is… exercise! 

Going to the gym is great if you have access to one, but even something as simple as walking a lap or two around the office or doing some jumping jacks in your bedroom can help you get some of the anger out.

And, if it’s an option for you, getting outside in nature even for a little bit can be an effective way to calm down. Going for a walk, bike ride, or run are all good options for exercising outdoors to blow off steam.

One last thing to note: none of these strategies are mutually exclusive. You can do breathing exercises while going for a walk, work on visualization while doing square breathing, or any other combination of activities. The key is, as always, finding what strategies are the most accommodating and effective for you. 

Ilona Titova/EyeEm
Need help calming yourself down when you’re mad?

Therapy for anger relief

For many people, anger management problems can have a negative impact on their lives and relationships. Online therapy can be a great option for managing anger. One of its biggest benefits is that it's convenient and flexible. You can attend sessions from your own home, and at times that work for you. You can even choose the type of communication that works best for you, whether that's video, phone, or messaging. 

Seeking counseling online is a perfectly valid method for dealing anger issues. Researchers have found that even in an online space, having a therapist talk people through mindful and emotional awareness exercises yielded positive results for the subjects. Ultimately, the development of online therapy means that people seeking anger relief have easier and quicker access to outside support when they need it!


No one likes to feel angry, but sometimes those emotions can feel out of our control. It’s important to have access to techniques like breathing exercises or visualization that can help you cool off quickly. It can also be very helpful to start cultivating long-term behavioral practices like meditation, regular exercise, and therapy, which are proven to help reduce stress and improve mental health.
Learn to separate anger from behavior
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