Feelings of anger are natural emotions that everyone experiences. It is when those feelings of anger are out of control that it can be damaging to yourself or others. It often takes a strong sense of determination and commitment to change the patterns of anger that can lead to domestic abuse, violence, road rage or addiction. There are many techniques and tips that you can use to help manage anger constructively.
16 Techniques for Anger Management
The following are a few of the more popular techniques you can use to manage your anger. You may find that one or a combination of these techniques helps you to bring your emotions under control.
1. Identify the Source of Anger
Anger can start in one area and infiltrate the rest of the areas of your life. If you experience anger frequently, you may have lost sight of what exactly makes you feel irate. Use the tips provided in 10 Questions for Finding the Source of Anger Fear and Guilt provided by The Center treatment facility. Also consider keeping a journal for a week, recording when you feel upset and the reason for it so that you can identity triggers.
2. Channel Your Anger
In an article on WomenToWomen.com, OB/GYN nurse practitioner Marcelle Pick asserts that learning to channel anger is a powerful tool that can bring about positive change. Don't suppress or hide from your feelings - doing so can actually hurt your health. Instead, take the emotions you are feeling and let them guide you toward making things better for yourself - and possibly even for others.
3. Think Before You React
In a Psychology Today article, Dr. Marci G. Fox emphasizes the importance of thinking things through before allowing yourself to react. When upset, try to change the tone of your voice when you speak to someone who is making you angry. Take a deep breath, speak slowly, and choose your words carefully. Taking time to think before you react will give you time to make better decisions before lashing out in anger.
4. Use Relaxation Techniques
Using different relaxation techniques can be an excellent way to calm angry feelings. Practicing relaxation strategies regularly can help these techniques become automatic responses to situations that cause you to feel anger.
5. Change Your Thinking
When people get angry, they tend to exaggerate their words as their feelings also become exaggerated. Changing the way you think, called cognitive restructuring, means replacing negative words and thoughts with positive ones. Changing your thoughts, words and actions to ones that are rational instead of irrational is an anger management technique that takes time to learn.
6. Self-Talk Yourself Out of Anger
Self-talk can be a powerful strategy for defusing anger. In the article Using Self Talk to Manage Your Anger, Dr. Lyle Becourtney explains that the thoughts that are going through your mind can have a great impact on how you respond to situations. By talking yourself down from emotions of anger, you can reduce or stop outbursts.
7. Engage in Problem Solving
When a problem is causing anger to build in your life and it seems that there is not a feasible solution, refocus your attention from the problem's solution to how to face the problem. Make a step-by-step plan that works toward solving the problem. Realize that the problem may take a while to solve and keep track of your progress.
For example, if you are in debt and it causes anger within the family, make a step-by-step plan to reduce the debt. Working toward the solution may require changes in lifestyle or taking on a temporary second job. Accept that you are working toward the solution and your anger will diminish.
8. Avoid Becoming Overwhelmed
According to the University of Maryland Health Center, anger can be a symptom of stress. If you find yourself stressed out all the time, it's going to be hard to control how you react to smaller problems in your life. Decrease stress by not letting yourself get overwhelmed. Solve issues as they come, do not overbook your home or work schedule, and learn to let go of disagreements, guilt, and worry.
9. Use Effective Communication
According to the American Psychological Association, it is important to express feelings of anger, but to do so in an assertive manner rather than an aggressive one. You shouldn't repress your feelings, but you must express them in an appropriate manner. Slow down and think about what you are saying and what is being said to you before jumping to conclusions and lashing out. Choose your words carefully and really take the time to listen to the other person.
10. Remove Yourself from the Situation
Registered Clinical Counselor Julia Kristina asserts that there are times that walking away from anger-inducing situations can be the best course of action. If you know someone or something is going to make you upset, avoid the situation. This is not always possible, but do your best to limit your exposure to circumstances that you know are just going to make you angry.
11. Take a Time Out
Time outs are not just for children. According to the Mayo Clinic, time outs can be an effective anger management strategy. Giving yourself time to calm down and gain control of your emotions is an excellent way to prevent doing or saying something you will regret later. Sometimes going into a different room will be enough of a change to calm you. If that's not enough, try taking a walk to relieve the flare-up of emotions when anger builds. Stay away for as long as it takes you to be able to face the situation calmly, which could be minutes or hours.
You can also schedule time outs for stressful periods of your day as a preventive measure. Take a few minutes to clear your head, think positive thoughts, and prepare yourself for the rest of the day.
12. Engage in Physical Activity
The same Mayo Clinic article that recommends time outs as an anger management strategy also emphasizes the importance of exercise. Sports like basketball, tennis, and soccer can help you release a lot of tension and reduce your stress level, as can running, kickboxing, and other forms of physical activity. Taking out your aggression through exercise can help you convert some of the feelings you have into positive actions.
13. Keep a Journal
The British Association of Anger Management recommends keep a diary or journal of your feelings of anger and your responses to them. Often writing down your feelings will help you release them, gain clarity on the causes, and cope with associated stress.
14. Eat and Sleep Well
There may be a relationship between nutritional deficiencies and anger, as well as between exhaustion or sleep deprivation and anger. When you don't eat and/or sleep well, your body doesn't have a chance to relax and replenish itself. This means that you are already on edge, so when any other stress comes your way it's too much for you to handle and you snap.
15. Ask a Friend or Family Member to Help
According to Web MD, seeking support from other people can be an effective approach to managing anger. You might not be able manage your hostility on your own. Ask a close friend or family member to help you change your behavior by calling you on it the next time you are in an anger-provoking situation. Your loved one can help talk you down and help you figure out the best way to handle the issue.
16. Seek Medical Attention
Some anger management problems are medically-based. For example, if your anger management problems are associated with anxiety, you may find that anti-anxiety medication can help you feel much calmer and better able to handle issues in your life. Seek assistance from a medical professional for diagnosis and care.
Benefit from Learning to Control Anger
One of these anger management techniques may be just the tool you need to learn to control your anger. Being in control of your emotions and that actions they provoke can help you lead a life that is calmer, happier and healthier.