How to get rid of anger to improve your life

Medically reviewed by Julie Dodson
Updated January 5, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
A survey of more than 34,000 adults showed that 7.8% of participants experienced “inappropriate, intense, or poorly controlled anger.” Even if you're only experiencing minor irritation or anger, it could be interfering with your life. However, research shows that there are ways to learn to control your anger and improve your quality of life.

If you learn about your anger and where it originated, you might find more effective ways to manage it.

In this article, we'll discuss strategies you can implement to get rid of anger and improve your quality of life.

Need help managing your anger in a healthy manner?

Is your anger a problem?

Anger is a normal emotion that everyone experiences at times. You might feel angry at a person driving a car who cut you off on the road, a boss who overlooked you for a promotion, or a partner who cheated on you. These are often valid reasons to be angry. However, some people experience extreme anger that affects their relationships and overall well-being. If you experience anger that seems excessive or that seems out of your control, it could be a sign of something more serious.

How to know when anger is a problem

Some people experience frequent outbursts of anger due to a condition called intermittent explosive disorder. According to the Cleveland Clinic, researchers believe that intermittent explosive disorder affects approximately 1.4% to 7% of the population. They may experience explosive outbursts that:

  • Occur quickly and unexpectedly after a provocation
  • Lead to problems with others at home, school, or work
  • Cause significant distress

These outbursts can result in verbal or physical altercations. They can also manifest as road rage, domestic violence, or acts of property damage.

Even if you don’t experience intermittent explosive disorder, you may benefit from recognizing signs of problematic anger. The following are just a few:

  • Having difficulty calming yourself when you feel anger
  • Getting frustrated with yourself during or after an argument
  • Breaking objects or punching something during an argument
  • Accusing others of doing things behind your back (even when they're not)
  • Becoming violent or short-tempered in response to minor issues

If you're experiencing any of these symptoms, you may benefit from speaking with a counselor who has experience helping people overcome their anger.

Get rid of anger the healthy way

The following are some strategies you can try to get rid of anger and improve your overall well-being. If they don’t work at first, it may help to try them multiple times or seek help from a counselor to address your anger.

Find an activity to channel your energy and emotion

For some people, physical activity, such as sports and other activities, can help them experience lower levels of anger. Some people need a contact activity to vent anger. They may find an outlet in sports like kickboxing or wrestling. On the other hand, some people prefer a creative activity, such as singing, dancing, drawing, or other forms of art to help them process their thoughts and feelings.

Discover where your anger originated

If you already know that you're experiencing anger in an unhealthy way, it may help you address the root cause of your anger. This may require some internal work, and a mental health professional may serve as a valuable resource during this process.

As you explore your anger, you might ask yourself what situations tend to trigger it. Is it related to a certain person or relationship? Does it usually happen at a specific time of day? Again, a qualified therapist may be able to help you think through these questions, but you can also journal or talk to a trusted friend. If you figure out what's causing your anger, you can take steps to address it and try to avoid triggers.

Learn to delay your reactions

For many, it can help to stop anger before it spirals out of control. Calming down when you're feeling angry can be extremely difficult. Sometimes, catching yourself in the beginning of an anger attack can make a significant difference.

First, you might try to recognize physical signs that you are getting angry, such as a faster heart rate or heavier breathing. These may help you to catch yourself right before an outburst. If you take a moment to think or breathe before you act, you might create some space to respond more appropriately. Consider taking several deep breaths or leaving the room if possible.

Need help managing your anger in a healthy manner?

That pause may allow you to think before you react out of instinct. It can give you a moment to process what was said or done and what was meant as well. Maybe your partner said one thing, but since you know them, you know they meant something else or didn't mean to speak so harshly. If you take a moment to breathe, you may find that you can respond more appropriately. You can calmly ask them what they meant, or you can express how you felt in response to their words, tone, or body language.

Learn to communicate

When you're angry, you might not want to explore how you’re feeling. Instead, you may want to stop something from happening or let someone know that their behavior is unacceptable. However, communicating clearly and effectively may be the best way to make that happen.

Letting the other person know what you interpreted, and how you felt based upon that perception may allow them to change things. Maybe they didn't realize the effect of their actions. Or maybe they did, and you'll need to set some boundaries. Either way, it may help to practice communicating your feelings once you’re in a mental space to do so calmly.

It may help to calmly describe what happened and say, "When you did that, I felt angry." At this point, you can't control how they respond, but you might be surprised. They may respond in a positive way that leads to less conflict in the future.

Talk to a counselor about anger 

If you’re experiencing problematic anger, you may benefit from connecting with a licensed mental health professional. A therapist may be able to help you explore the root causes of your anger and learn to manage it skillfully. Even if you don't have an anger disorder, you may still benefit from learning healthy ways to manage and express anger. If you don’t feel comfortable with in-office therapy, you might consider trying online therapy.

There is an increasingly large body of research pointing to online therapy as a useful means of managing difficult emotions, such as those associated with anger. A study published in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, examined the effectiveness of online therapy in helping those with problematic anger. Researchers found that online counseling significantly decreased anger levels. These findings are in line with similar current research showing that online therapy can be a valuable tool when managing complicated emotions arising out of various mental health conditions.

With online counseling through BetterHelp, you can connect with a licensed counselor from anywhere around the country. Instead of commuting to an appointment across town, you can participate in therapy from the comfort of your own home or wherever you happen to be, as long as you have an internet connection. Online therapy also tends to be more affordable than in-person therapy without insurance.

Below are some reviews of BetterHelp counselors from people who have experienced similar concerns.

Counselor reviews

"Steve is amazing and does a good job at making this seem like less of a counseling session and more of a conversation between friends. He helped me talk through my anger issues and road rage and gave me lots of problem-solving tools. I highly recommend him!"

"Since I started with BetterHelp and Leslie, she's been able to help me understand the problems I've faced and how to manage my anger and problems."

Takeaway

Anger can have a number of negative effects not only on your mental health but also on your physical and relational health. If you experience difficulty controlling your anger, know that you are not alone. You may benefit from speaking with a licensed counselor about your anger, whether in your community or online. With online therapy, you can be matched with a therapist who has experience helping people identify the causes of their anger and manage it effectively. Take the first step toward getting rid of anger and contact BetterHelp today.

Learn to separate anger from behavior

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
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