Managing your anger doesn’t mean never getting angry. Instead, it involves learning how to recognize, cope with, and express your anger in healthy and productive ways. Anger management is a skill that everyone can learn. Because anger can be powerful, managing it is sometimes challenging. It takes plenty of self-awareness and self-control to manage angry feelings. And these skills take time to develop.
Anger becomes problematic when it’s felt too often or too intensely or when it’s expressed in unhealthy ways, which can take a toll physically, mentally, and socially. For this reason, anger management strategies can be beneficial and can help you discover healthy ways to express your feelings.
Ready to get your anger under control? Start by considering these 10 anger management tips.
1. There are some warning signs when your anger is on the rise. Recognizing them early can help you take action to prevent your anger from reaching a boiling point. By recognizing your warning signs, you have the opportunity to take immediate action and prevent yourself from doing or saying things that create bigger problems. Learn to pay attention to how you’re feeling and you’ll get better at recognizing the warning signs.
2. When confronted with a trigger, it may help to: count to 10, go for a short walk, make contact with a person who is not immediately involved, such as a friend, family member, or counselor. It can help to vocally express the thoughts behind the anger to a person who is not the focus of the reaction. This can help defuse the situation and more clearly identify the cause of the intense feelings.
3. Trying to win an argument or sticking it out in an unhealthy situation will only fuel your anger. One of the best things you can do when your anger is rising is to remove yourself from the situation if you can. When a conversation gets heated, take a break. Leave a meeting if you think you’re going to explode. Go for a walk if your kids upset you. A time-out can be key to helping you calm your brain and your body.
4. Try some Deep breathing exercises. Focus on each breath as it moves in and out, and try to spend more time exhaling than inhaling. You can practice mindfulness exercise. Meditation is one example of a mindfulness technique, and these can help shift the mind away from anger during triggering situations, especially after consistent practice. At first, you might not feel as though they’re effective, or you might question whether they’re going to work for you. But with practice, they can become your go-to strategies for anger management.
5. Exercise regularly. Physical activity is a great way to use up excess adrenalin. A brisk run or walk or combat sports, such as boxing or martial arts, can be useful outlets for aggressive or confrontational feelings.
6. Find alternative channels for anger: It can help to express anger in a way that limits harm to others, such as tearing newspaper, crushing ice cubes over a sink, or punching or screaming into a pillow.
7. Create distractions: Distraction techniques, such as dancing to energetic music, taking a relaxing shower, or building, fixing, writing, or drawing, can provide distance from the issue.
8. Make a Calm down kit. Think about objects that help engage all your senses. When you can look, hear, see, smell, and touch calming things, you can change your emotional state. So a calm down kit might include scented candles, favorite photograpes of your family members, a spiritual passage you can read aloud, and a few pieces of your favorite candy. Include things that you know will help you remain calm.
9. Keep a record of your anger in a diary. Recording feelings of anger during an episode and reporting what happened before, during, and afterward may help people anticipate triggers and cope more effectively. Understanding which control techniques worked and which did not can help an individual develop a better anger management plan. Do not repress the feelings that drove the anger. Instead, after calming down, express them in an assertive, nonaggressive way. Keeping a journal can be an effective channel for this. Writing can also help a person identify and alter thoughts that contribute to disproportionate anger. It can be helpful to change final or catastrophic thought processes so that they become more realistic and constructive. For example, changing the thought, “Everything is ruined” to, “This is frustrating, but a resolution is possible” can help clarify the situation and increase the chances of finding a solution.
10. Getting at least 7 hours of quality sleep every night also contributes to mental and physical health. Researchers have linked sleep deprivation to a number of health problems, including irritability and anger.
If you or a loved one has anger issues, therapy can help. One of the most common types of psychotherapy is cognitive behavioral therapy. The purpose of the treatment is to help an angry person recognize the self-defeating negative thoughts that lie behind anger flare-ups. A psychologist can teach necessary skills to manage overwhelming emotions. They may also help a person address underlying emotions and memories that may be contributing to the distress. With time and patience, anyone can learn to control their anger.