Staying In Control Of Your Emotions: Strategies To Release Anger Productively

Medically reviewed by Paige Henry
Updated February 27, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Have you been experiencing anger lately and wondering why it can be so hard to control? If so, you’re not alone. Many of us may be familiar with the emotion or with the effects that it can cause. 

Below, we’ll be discussing ways to change this pattern, possibly helping you to experience and resolve anger in a healthier way.

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Learn actionable strategies for releasing anger healthily

What causes rage and anger?

Pent-up anger is generally regarded to be a common emotion—but sometimes it can feel challenging to keep rage under control. Learning how to release your emotions appropriately may help you stabilize your moods, have healthy relationships, and improve your overall health.

It is important to note that not all anger is negative, necessarily. Anger can sometimes be a natural response when you face perceived threats. It can be a survival instinct that activates the body’s fight-or-flight reaction. This can inspire powerful, and sometimes aggressive, feelings and actions when we feel attacked.

Strong emotions such as rage can be triggered by both internal and external factors. External triggers can be a result of outside influences, such as a coworker spreading rumors about you or a person cutting you off in heavy traffic. Internal triggers, conversely, may involve brooding about personal issues or obsessing over negative experiences from the past. Learned behaviors, inherited tendencies and brain chemistry may also play a role in the severity of these feelings. Learning how to release these emotions in a healthy way can greatly improve your mental health.

Did you know? Research shows that therapy can help with anger management. In one study, for example, 75% of people with anger management problems benefited from therapy

Anger can be caused by several factors. Genetics and physiological factors can play a role in emotions, even at an early age. Additionally, learned social and cultural behaviors may also affect someone’s ability to handle strong feelings like anger.

Family background can also play a role. For example: People who grow up in families that are chaotic, disruptive or not skilled in expressing emotions may have more difficulty managing anger.

If you are experiencing trauma, support is available. Please see our Get Help Now page for more resources.

Strategies and ways to release intense anger

Everyone handles moods differently, so you might try several strategies to determine which ones work best for you when you’re feeling angry. We’ve listed a few for your consideration below: 

Get physical exercise

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Physical activity can be a great way to express anger and put yourself in a better mood. The chemicals activated in the brain while doing the physical activity can be natural mood stabilizers.

Working out can also help you to redirect your anger into a healthy activity. Although exercise may not solve the problems that caused your initial mood, it can neutralize the difficult emotions so that you can think more clearly about solutions.

Deep breathing

When you’re feeling angry, your breathing may increase. You may find that you take short and shallow breaths. This can trigger other physical symptoms, such as high blood pressure. Breathing exercises may help you to calm down from the body’s fight-or-flight alertness.

To start, you might practice taking slow, controlled breaths. You may imagine the air going in through your nose all the way to your lungs. Then, you can follow the breath as it leaves your body.

You might also try counting as you breathe. For example, you can inhale while counting to four, hold your breath for another count of four, and then exhale counting to four again. 

Progressive muscle relaxation exercises

When you feel rage, you may notice that your muscles seem to tense up throughout your body. One way to release rage is to address this tension. You might try slowly tensing and relaxing each muscle group one at a time. These muscle relaxation techniques may help your body recover from the muscle-tightening response to anger.

Guided meditation

Guided meditations can sometimes help calm rage or other emotions. Several websites offer guided meditations for calming the nerves. You could even install a meditation app on your smartphone to use whenever you’re angry, or you may even use it a few times a week as a preventive strategy.

Write it out

Sometimes writing thoughts and emotions on paper can help to get them out of your head. If you believe that this may be helpful to you, you might consider journaling, writing poetry or writing a letter or email to someone who wronged you (that you may or may not send). Writing can sometimes help organize your thoughts and may provide insight into the situation. 

When you write, you might try to avoid focusing only on the adverse aspect of the event or situation. Instead, you can try to brainstorm solutions or how to handle things differently in the future. You can write until you feel that your feelings of rage are expressed.

Let go of the situation, feeling, memory, or person (even family)

Sometimes it can be best to walk away from the source of anger. It could be permanent or temporary—but either way, it can be helpful to take a break from the triggers consistently causing rage. 

Change the way you form your thoughts

When you feel rage, “black-and-white thinking” can be common, and it can be easy to perceive problems to be much worse than they are. Cognitive restructuring may help you replace negative thoughts with more rational ones. Below are some tips for changing your thinking:

  • Avoid words like “always” or “never” when thinking or talking about the person or situation making you angry. These absolute words may serve to justify your rage and alienate others helping you find a solution.
  • Understand rage has a way of quickly making thoughts irrational. You might try taking a few breaths as mentioned above and then trying to determine if your thoughts are irrational, you might try replacing the irrational thoughts with more logical, constructive thoughts.
  • Translate expectations into desires. It may be easy to demand fairness, or appreciation when you’re feeling angry. That doesn’t always sit well with others, however. Instead, you can request what you’d like to see happen as a desire. It may not always work, but this type of assertive communication may help get your point across in a much more amicable manner.
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Learn actionable strategies for releasing anger healthily

Talk to an online therapist about your anger

Some people who experience intense anger may find benefit from turning to therapists, who are generally trained to provide insights into thought processes one may have. They can also offer evidence-based strategies to constructively and assertively deal with rage.

If a traditional therapy setting is not right for you, BetterHelp offers convenient online therapy sessions. You can talk to a licensed therapist from the comfort of your own home via phone or video chat. You can also contact your therapist in between sessions via in-app messaging, and they’ll get back to you as soon as they can.
A recent study from the Karolinska Institutet has found that just four weeks of online therapy for anger management has been suggested to be effective in cases of moderate to severe anger. Many in the experimental group also appreciated the convenience that the method offered, as participants could participate right from the comfort of their homes or safe places. 

Takeaway

If you have questions about how to control anger and release it in a healthy way, you’re not alone. With BetterHelp, you can choose from among thousands of therapists to find someone with experience helping people manage their anger. Anger doesn't have to dominate your everyday life. Help is available via online therapy. Take the first step and contact 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.
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