Control Anger

Everyone gets angry on occasion. If you're experiencing overwhelming rage, though, it could be damaging your mental and physical health as well as your relationships with others. Uncontrolled anger can be indicative of underlying problems, such as anger management issues or mental disorder. It's important to control your emotions and calm yourself down for your own sake as well as for the sake of those around you.


Help Controlling Anger

Doc:Meditation Techniques,Ways to Manage Stress,Stress Journal Entry

Understanding Your Anger

  1. Watch for physiological signs of anger. Anger is certainly a psychological emotion, but it is also physiological, involving chemical reactions in your brain. [1] When you get angry, your amygdala, the center for emotional processing, sends a distress signal to your hypothalamus, which sends epinephrine along your autonomic nervous system through the path of the sympathetic nervous system to the adrenal glands, which starts pumping epinephrine (adrenaline) throughout your body. The adrenaline gets your body ready to meet a threat, increasing your heart rate and sharpening your senses. [1]
    • This process serves a biological purpose (preparing you for fight or flight), but if you have an anger problem, your threshold for what triggers this physiological response may be too low (for example, if you get angry at a coworker for playing music too loudly).
  2. Take inventory of your emotions. Anger often masks another emotion; many times, anger is a secondary emotion to hurt, sadness, grief, depression, or fear.[2] Anger emerges as almost a defense mechanism because it is easier for many people to deal with than the other emotions. Think about whether you allow yourself to feel a wide range of emotions or if you may be suppressing emotions that you think you “shouldn’t” feel.
    • If you commonly substitute anger for other emotions that you find more difficult to deal with, consider seeing a therapist to learn to handle and accept those emotions.
  3. Accept that anger can be a normal, healthy emotion. Anger is not always a bad thing. Anger can serve a healthy purpose by protecting you against continued abuse or wrongdoing. [3] If you perceive that someone is harming you, you will likely become angry, and that anger will prompt you to confront the person or end the harm in another way.
    • Some people are taught that it is impolite to feel or express anger. But suppressing natural feelings of anger can have negative effects on your emotions and your relationships with others.
  4. Watch for signs that your anger is out of control. While anger can be healthy, it can also be unhealthy. You may need to deal with an anger problem through self-help or professional help if the following are true:
    • Insignificant occurrences make you very angry, such as spilled milk and accidentally dropping an object.
    • When you’re angry, you display aggressive behaviors, including yelling, screaming, or hitting.
    • The problem is chronic; it happens over and over again.
    • You have an addiction, and when you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, your temper gets worse and your behavior more violent.

Controlling Chronic Anger

  1. Engage in physical activity. The endorphins that come from exercise can help you calm down, and moving your body provides a physical outlet for your rage: in this way, exercise can help in the moment of anger. However, maintaining a regular exercise schedule can also help you regulate your emotions in general. [4] [5] While you exercise, focus on thinking about the exercise and your body, not what has been on your mind lately. Some forms of exercise that might appeal to you and help you control your anger include:
    • Running/Jogging
    • Weight training
    • Cycling
    • Yoga
    • Basketball
    • Martial arts
    • Swimming
    • Dance
    • Boxing
    • Meditating
  2. Get enough sleep at night. Most adults need at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night to thrive.[6] Being sleep deprived can contribute to a wide range of health problems, including the inability to manage emotions properly. Getting adequate sleep can improve your mood and lessen your anger.
    • If you have chronic sleep problems, consult your physician. You may be able to make dietary or lifestyle changes to improve your sleep. You may also be able to try herbal or medicinal supplements to sleep more.
  3. Keep an anger journal. Begin writing down details about your anger. If you have an episode or event in which you lost control of your emotions, write it down. Be sure to include exactly how you felt, what caused you to be angry, where you were, who you were with, how you reacted, and how you felt afterwards.[7] After you have kept your journal for a while, you should begin to look for commonalities among entries to identify the people, places, or things that trigger your anger.
    • A sample journal entry may look like this: Today, I became very angry at a coworker. He called me selfish for not offering to pick up lunch for everyone. We were in the lounge area, and I was taking a break from a stressful day by eating a cheeseburger from the restaurant next door. I got really angry and yelled back at him, called him a name and stormed off. I punched the desk when I got back to my office. Then I felt guilty and ashamed and hid in my office the rest of the day.
    • Over time, you may evaluate your journal and find that being called a name (such as selfish) is a trigger for your anger.
  4. Put together an anger management plan. Once you begin to identify triggers to your anger, [7] you can make a plan for dealing with those triggers. Using the strategies for controlling anger listed in Part 1 can help, along with scripting an if-then response ahead of time.
    • For example, you may know that you are going to visit your mother-in-law, who makes disparaging remarks about your parenting style. You could decide ahead of time, “if she makes a comment about my parenting, I will calmly tell her that I appreciate her input, but I am going to make decisions about the way that I parent regardless of how she feels about those opinions.” You may also decide that you will leave the room or even pack up and go home if you feel that your anger is growing.
  5. Practice assertive expression of your anger.[8] People using assertive expression of anger acknowledge the needs of both parties involved in a disagreement. [9] To practice assertive expression, you should stick to the facts involved (not exaggerated by emotion), communicate requests (rather than demands) in a respectful way, communicate clearly, and express your feelings effectively.
    • This approach differs from passive expression, which involves being angry without saying anything, and aggressive expression, which generally manifests as an explosion or outburst that generally seems disproportionate to the problem. [9]
    • For example, if you are angered by a coworker playing music loudly every day while you are trying to work, you could say, “I understand that you enjoy listening to music while you are working, but the music makes it difficult for me to focus on my work. I would like to request that you use headphones instead of playing the music aloud so that it is not a distraction to your coworkers and so that we can all have a pleasant work environment.”
  6. Find a local anger management program. Anger management programs can help you learn to deal with anger and control your emotions healthily. [10] Attending a group class can help you feel as though you are not alone in your situation, and many people find that peer groups are as helpful as individual therapy for some kinds of problems.
    • To find an anger management program that is right for you, try searching online for “anger management class” plus the name of your city, state, or region. You can also include search terms like “for teens” or “for PTSD” to find a group tailored to your specific situation.
    • You can also look for appropriate programs by asking your physician or therapist, or consulting the self-improvement course offerings at your local community center.
  7. See a mental health professional. If your anger has progressed to the point that it's interfering with your day-to-day life or your ability to maintain positive relationships, see a therapist. He or she can assess the root of your problem and whether or not you require therapy, medication, or some combination of both. A therapist can give you relaxation techniques to use in situations that make you feel angry. She can help you develop emotional coping skills and communication training. [11]
    • You can search for a therapist specializing in anger management in North America here and in the United Kingdom here.

Controlling Anger in the Moment

  1. Take a break as soon as you recognize that you're angry. You can take a break by stopping what you're doing, getting away from whatever is irritating you, and/or just taking a breather. Getting away from whatever is upsetting you will make it infinitely easier to calm down.
    • Remember that you do not have to respond to a situation immediately. You can count to 10 or even say “I will think about it and get back to you” to give yourself additional time to cool down as necessary.[12]
    • If you're angry at work, go to a room or step outside for a moment. If you're driving to work, consider sitting in your car so that you're in a space you own.
    • If you're upset at home, go to a single-occupancy space (such as the bathroom) or for a walk or go for a walk with someone you trust or that can help you.
  2. Let yourself feel angry. It is perfectly normal to experience emotions such as anger. Allowing yourself a little time and space to feel angry may help you accept the anger and move on. Once you move on, you can stop returning to the anger and reliving the reason that you were angry.[13]
    • To allow yourself to experience your anger, think about locating it in your body. Do you feel anger in your stomach? In your clenched fists? Find your anger, let it be, then let it go.
  3. Breathe deeply. If your heart hammers with rage, slow it down by controlling your breathing. Deep breathing is one of the most important steps in meditation, which can contribute to controlling emotions. [14] Even if you do not fully “meditate,” using deep breathing techniques can offer similar benefits. [15]
    • Count to three as you inhale, hold the breath in your lungs for three more seconds, and count to three again as you exhale. Focus only on the numbers as you do this.
    • Be sure that each breath in fully fills your lungs, causing your chest and belly to expand. Exhale fully each time, and pause between the exhale and the next inhale.
    • Keep breathing until you feel that you have regained control.
  4. Visualize a "happy place." If you're still having a difficult time calming down, imagine yourself in a scene you find incredibly relaxing. It could be your childhood backyard, a quiet forest, a solitary island or even in an imaginary land - any place that makes you feel at home and peaceful. Focus on imagining every detail of this place: the light, the noises, the temperature, the weather, the smells. Keep dwelling on your happy place until you feel completely immersed in it, and hang out there for a few minutes or until you feel calm.
  5. Practice positive self-talk. Changing the way that you think about something from negative to positive (known as “cognitive restructuring”) [15] can help you deal with your anger in a healthy way. After you have given yourself a moment to calm down, "discuss" the situation with yourself in positive and relieving terms.
    • For example, if you experience road rage, you could try turning from “That idiot almost killed me! I want to kill him too!” to "That guy almost sideswiped me, but maybe he was experiencing an emergency and I'll probably never have to see him again. I feel lucky that I'm alive and my car is unscratched. I'm fortunate that I can still drive, and I can continue to be calm and focused when I get back on the road."
  6. Ask for the support of someone you trust. Sometimes sharing your concerns with a close friend or confidant might help you vent your anger. Clearly express what you want from the other person. If you just want a sounding board, state at the beginning that you don't want help or advice, just sympathy. If you're looking for a solution, let the other person know.
    • Set a time limit. Give yourself a set amount of time to vent about what's upsetting you, and stick to it - when time is up, your rant is over. This will help you move on instead of dwelling on the situation endlessly.
  7. Try to see some humor in what angered you. After you've calmed down and established that you're ready to get over the incident, try to see the lighter side. Casting the incident in a humorous light can actually change the chemical response in your body from anger to humor. [15]
    • For example, if someone runs you off the road in your car, you might think about how silly it is that they might get where they are going 15 seconds faster by not yielding to you. You can have a good chuckle about how their priorities are out of order and move on with your life.


  • Watch what you say when you're angry. You don't always feel the same as when you have calmed down and thought of the situation.
  • Try listening to soothing songs that bring peace to your mind.
  • If you get angry easily and find it hard to control yourself, find a quiet place away from everybody. Scream into a blanket, pillow, or anything to stifle the noise. (If you want to, you can even just yell if nobody is around.) It'll help you let off some steam.
  • Recognize that sometimes anger is justified, and may need to come out. However, realize that there are productive ways to do it instead of lashing out at others.
  • Ask yourself if the future recipient of your furor deserves to be blown up at, or if you are just using them as a punching bag to release steam about another person/issue that bothers you.
  • Find a creative outlet, such as writing, drawing etc. where you can expend your energy. Hobbies help elevate your mood and allow you to channel energy that you'd usually spent dwelling on issues that you aren't able to resolve. Imagine what you could do with the energy you expend in anger if you channeled it into something else.
  • Think about the stress you put on yourself. Do you enjoy feeling that way? If not change it.
  • Meditation is a useful way to release stress and/or anxiety, the precursors to anger.
  • Avoid all things that were involved in making you angry until you have cooled down. Block out anything or anyone and go into a quiet place and breathe deeply until you are calm enough.
  • Try to stay away from situations or places or anything that make you angry.
  • Just think of someone you love and say to yourself that you are better than that bully.
  • When you are mad, just take a breath and try not to show it at the moment or vent it later on friends or family about it, but be calm and understand the other persons point of view.


  • Walk away immediately when you realize you are about to allow your anger to turn to rage or becoming violent.
  • Anger is never, ever an excuse to strike out at or abuse (physically or verbally) the people around you.
  • If at any time you are thinking about doing something that would hurt yourself or other people, get help immediately.

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Sources and Citations