Learning To Manage Anger: Coping Skills And Techniques

Medically reviewed by Nikki Ciletti, M.Ed, LPC
Updated November 16, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

The majority of people experience anger from time to time, but for some, their emotions can become all-consuming, uncontrollable, and even dangerous.

According to one study published in the journal CNS Spectrums, 7.8% of adults in the United States experience “inappropriate, intense, or poorly controlled anger.” 

Unaddressed anger can lead to problems with your physical and mental health and can be harmful to your personal relationships. Learning how to control it can be vital for living a fulfilling, productive life. 

If you experience problems with anger, know that you are not alone. There are strategies for reducing anger and learning to manage it more effectively. Below, we’ll explore some of these basic coping skills so that you can live a life free from the negative effects of chronic anger.

You Can Learn How To Manage Your Anger With The Right Support

Healthy Or Unhealthy Anger

If you’re experiencing concerns about anger, it can be important to figure out whether your anger is constructive ("healthy") or destructive in nature.

Constructive anger can be beneficial in that it's often justified and may promote healthier and more positive outcomes in a situation, such as fighting for change in an unfair situation or defending yourself or someone you care for when necessary. Examples of this might include fighting for social change or standing up against mistreatment or bullying, whether it's for yourself or on behalf of someone else.

Destructive anger might be thought of as unprocessed anger, which can lead to harmful behavior, such as physical altercations, verbal outbursts, and other harmful forms of expression. Destructive anger could cause someone to engage in reckless driving, endangering those within and outside of their vehicle. Destructive anger could also lead a person to lash out at the first person to cross their path and treat them cruelly for no reason.

What Does Destructive Anger Look Like?

Destructive anger can look different for everyone. It could involve an angry reaction that is far stronger than what is reasonable for the circumstances. It could also involve a physical or verbal outburst so unbridled that the consequences lead to termination from a place of employment or even jail time. Destructive anger could even be directed toward yourself in the form of destructive behaviors, such as those involving intoxication or self-harm as an outlet. Constant anger that doesn’t go away after some time could also be destructive to your health, even if the effects aren’t immediately noticeable.

Learning To Manage Anger

When possible, it can be productive to avoid acting on anger immediately when provoked unless the well-being of yourself or another person is at stake. Your response to your angry feelings can be the difference between a fleeting negative experience and serious consequences as a result of an explosive outburst, whether physical or verbal. The following are some strategies for managing anger to avoid negative consequences.

Diffuse Rising Anger

If you feel provoked by something around you, it may help to find a way to diffuse your anger. For example, you might try to simply take a moment to yourself to practice exercises that help you cool down. You might repeat a calming phrase, count in your head, or focus on your breathing. These tactics may be difficult to do when you're already feeling angry, but many have proven useful in helping people calm down before their emotions reach a critical level of intensity.

Remove Yourself From The Situation

Removing yourself from a tense situation may be an effective way to prevent it from escalating. If your emotions feel like they're on the rise, you might take an opportunity to step out of the room, hang up the call, or ask to talk another time, if possible. In many cases, having time to calm down may help you manage your emotions in a productive way and then return to the conversation with a calm mind and equanimity.

You Can Learn How To Manage Your Anger With The Right Support

Identify The Cause Of Your Anger

Anger can be chronic, but it can also be caused by certain people, phrases, situations, or circumstances. Identifying anger sources may help you avoid or cope with them effectively.

Sometimes, there may be one root cause of your anger that gets set off by several other smaller issues. While it might seem like the smaller things are causing your anger, it may be a deeper problem that hasn’t been addressed. This could be affecting your interpretation of situations as well as your reactions to them. An example of a larger cause might be grief, such as not having fully processed a loss or a devastating event in your life.

Being self-aware may help you recognize these causes. Even if you can’t avoid the things that spark your anger, you may still learn how to cope when you do encounter them.

Practice Self-Care And Stress Reduction

Life is often busy and hectic, and it can be difficult to find time to rest and relax. However, focusing on self-care throughout your day can be beneficial for your well-being, whether you’re experiencing anger or not. Your mind and body both need a break from time to time. Neglecting to care for either can have negative short-and long-term effects.

There are many different ways you can choose to unwind, such as picking up a hobby, meditating, exercising, reading a book, playing a game, or taking a hot bath or shower. Each of these may help to relieve bodily tension and effectively reduce your angry feelings before they reach a dangerous level.

Learn Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a type of meditative practice that can be done with or without a guide. Mindfulness generally focuses on the concept of being in the moment. This practice may help you to simply observe your thoughts and feelings without judgment. This process may give you some distance from feelings of anger so that they are short-lived, which may prevent reactions that you regret. By turning to mindfulness when you’re angry, you might be able to choose a different, healthier reaction.

Explore Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (Self-Guided)

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a therapeutic technique that mental health professionals often use to treat people who experience difficulty with anger. However, you can acquire reading materials to practice some core CBT principles on your own. CBT may help you question inaccurate thoughts about yourself and rewire your thought processes, which may help you react differently to the world and the stimuli you encounter.

CBT, like mindfulness, may help you become more observant of your surroundings and interactions and learn appropriate coping mechanisms, which may encourage further emotional development and control of your emotions.

Get Help With Anger

Sometimes, anger can be a symptom of a more serious concern like a mental health disorder. In these cases, speaking with a mental health professional could be beneficial. If you’re experiencing difficulty with anger, a therapist may be able to help you uncover its root cause. If you feel hesitant to speak with a therapist about anger in person, may might benefit from online therapy. 

With online therapy at BetterHelp, you can connect with a counselor who has experience helping people with anger and related concerns. You can communicate in a way that’s most comfortable for you, whether by phone, video chat, or live chat. You can also reach out to your therapist at any time through in-app messaging, and they’ll get back to you as soon as they can. This may be helpful if you want to document feelings of anger in between sessions.

Research shows that online counseling is effective for a variety of mental health challenges, including problems with anger. One study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology found that “four weeks of therapy delivered over the internet can help people with anger and aggression.”


Anger is a common human emotion, but too much of it can be detrimental to your mental health and relationships. While you may be able to make improvements on your own through strategies such as mindfulness and stress reduction, sometimes it can be helpful to have guidance from a professional. 

By working with a mental health counselor, you may find that you can develop new coping skills for handling your anger in productive, healthy ways. With BetterHelp, you can choose a therapist who has experience helping people overcome their anger, regardless of the cause. Take the first step toward managing anger and reach out to BetterHelp.

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.
Get the support you need from one of our therapistsGet Started