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Helpful Tips to Manage Anger

Updated: Apr 26

Anger ~ a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility.

While anger is a common human emotion, if it is expressed in an unhealthy manner, it can have a negative impact on interpersonal relationships.

When we get angry we often lose the ability to make good decisions because emotions are generated in the amygdala. The amygdala is so efficient at sending warning signals that we often act before the cortex, the part of our brain responsible for thought and judgment, is able to assess the reasonableness of our reaction.

The following is a list of interventions that can be useful in managing angry outbursts:

1. Take a timeout ~ Go for a walk, sit in a quiet place, meditate, practice some deep breathing or repeat a calming phrase. This allows time for the cortex to reengage to help make more effective decisions about how to react.

2. Ask for what you need ~ Once you have calmed down, express your frustration calmly and ask for what you need. It is most helpful to use "I" rather than "you" statements such as "I feel frustrated when you do...." as opposed to "you always..." Be direct and respectful.

3. Believe in your ability to control your emotional state ~ remind yourself that you can calm yourself and choose how you want to react.

This requires that we acknowledge to ourselves that we feel angry and that we need to proceed cautiously before reacting. Learning emotional regulation reduces the chance that we will say or do things we regret.

4. Learn emotional regulation skills ~ If you are unfamiliar with meditation or breathing exercises that calm the nervous system, seek help to learn how to use these techniques. There are apps, videos, and classes widely available on the internet for free or for a nominal fee.

5. Seek help ~ If you try all of these and you are still struggling, seek help from a mental health provider. Mental health providers can help you learn and practice a multitude of skills to help with emotional regulation. They can help you identify specific triggers for your anger and help you learn a more positive way of expressing yourself.

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