Perhaps you have a practical approach to life, or perhaps you are simply angry.
"Pathological anger can ruin your relationships, career, and health if you don't act," but there are techniques that can help (Dyer, 2020, p. 14).
We know that everyone gets angry, but letting it get out of hand is harmful. Anger management treatments help people live full, happy, and healthy lives (Karmin, 2017).
This article contains anger management tips, techniques and strategies. It also features exercises and activities to manage emotions and keep anger in check.
Before proceeding, we think you might want to do this.Download our three emotional intelligence exercises for free. These science-backed exercises not only improve your ability to understand and work with your angry feelings, but also give you the tools to develop the emotional intelligence of your clients, students or employees.
This article contains:
- Conducting Anger Management Therapy: 10+ Tips
- Helpful worksheets and helpful questions
- Alternative methods of anger management
- Best Features of PositivePsychology.com
- A message to take home
Conducting Anger Management Therapy: 10+ Tips
We don't have to put up with destructive, anger-driven behavior, and, perhaps more importantly, neither should others. There is a wealth of literature and advice for taking back control of our emotions.
Anger is a real problem in society. Studies suggest that “eight percent of the adult population has difficulty controlling their temper” and that any of us can develop an anger problem (Dyer, 2020, p. 14).
However, before you even think about signing up, there are some tips that can get us started or keep us on the path of managing our emotions.aggression therapy.
We've listed some of the best below (modified from Dyer, 2020).
Find out if you have an anger problem
While some level of anger is normal and sometimes helpful in our lives, we need to ask ourselves if anger is consuming us. For example, do we lose control when we feel disrespected or see someone being mistreated?
Some of the main signs of a serious anger problem include the following (Dyer, 2020):
- Your anger seems too strong to handle.
- You are regularly angry.
- They get angry about things that don't seem to affect other people.
- Your anger affects your relationships and your work.
- Your anger turns into aggression or violence.
- You use unhealthy coping mechanisms to manage your behavior.
Recognizing a problem is the first step towards change (Karmin, 2017).
Learn to deal with your emotions
MeetTechniques to help you copeDealing with strong emotions and breaking the anger cycle is an essential next step in dealing with anger (Dyer, 2020).
Out-of-control anger means your emotions are dictating your behavior. Dyer (2020) offers several techniques for regaining control of feelings and avoiding acting in destructive or harmful ways.
- distance yourself
Physically removing yourself from an emotional situation can bring immediate relief. However, if this is not possible,psychological distancecan help. Imagining that someone else has the problem or checking it out yourself can help you respond more rationally.
- practice deep breathing
Breathing slowly and deeply is a powerful way to restore logical, less emotional thinking and promote feelings of relaxation (Nestor, 2020).
- please give it some time
Before you do or say something regrettable, apologize. Step away from the heat of the situation for a few minutes to regain your composure and think more logically.
- Engage in physical activity
In the heat of anger, your body burns with endorphins and stress hormones that prime you for action. Go for a walk, preferably outdoors, to restore your physical (and mental) balance.
- Change your posture and facial expression
Surprisingly, changing your body language can be effective in changing how others see you and how you feel. Relaxing the arms and shoulders and loosening the wrists can help (Cuddy, 2018).
If you can see the humor in the situation and it's appropriate, laughter can create a temporary distraction or change a tense dynamic.
- Play soft or upbeat music
Listening to bright or relaxing music can be a distraction and an effective way to decompress.
seek medical help
Physical illnesses and physiological changes can lead to emotional changes. Seek medical help for severemood swingsand unexpected anger (Dyer, 2020; US National Library of Medicine, 2021).
Medical evaluations for these types of symptoms may include testing, asking questions, or discussing the possibility of:
- hormonal imbalances
- blood sugar problems and diabetes
- neurological problems
- eating disorder
- Family history of mental health
- Dealing with stress (recent significant life changes, such as divorce, death of a loved one)
- Organic diseases (Parkinson's, epilepsy, tumors, etc.)
- head injury
While none of these factors are an excuse to lash out at others, they can indicate underlying factors that are making the situation worse.
Develop anger management skills
The point of controlling your anger is to avoid doing things that you will later regret. To manage your anger, you must develop the skills you need to be successful (Karmin, 2017):
- you take care
- Build resilience and frustration tolerance
- keep a positive attitude
Ask yourself what is the hardest part of controlling your anger when you:
- express yourself?
- Take care?
- tolerate frustration?
- Maintain a positive attitude?
Use the answers to think about what you could do differently and learn to be more compassionate with yourself and others.
7 Anger Control Techniques and Strategies
The following approaches can help someone react differently to people and events that usually make them angry.
Understand the anger management cycle
Emanger management–How to Control Your Emotions and Find Joy in Life, Judy Dyer (2020) says that once you recognize the factors at play in triggering anger responses, you can learn how to break the anger cycle.
A typical anger reaction is the result of the following steps (modified from Dyer, 2020):
- Something happens that upsets or disturbs you (triggering event).
- negative orirrational thoughtsto type.
- Such thoughts lead to unpleasant emotions.
- You begin to experience physical symptoms of anger (hot flashes, sweats, shivering, clenched fists).
- They react (behavior), possibly screaming, crying, arguing, struggling or pulling away.
It doesn't have to be. According to Dyer (2020), you can break the cycle.
challenge your thoughts
Therapists often begin by focusing on the client's negative thoughts or thoughts.cognitive distortions(Dyer, 2020).
Ask your customers to consider whether the following statements apply to them:
- You only focus on the things others have done to annoy you (filtering).
- You see everything to the extreme using words likeNever,Always, orone(Overgeneralization).
- You ignore your role in a situation and instead blame others (blame).
- You dream about how you want revenge or revenge (plan).
- You insist that everyone around you behave in a certain way. If they don't comply, you should.
Ask your clients to challenge their negative thoughts using the following steps (Dyer, 2020):
- Write the thought.
- Think about how you feel when you have that thought.
- Think about the type of cognitive bias you might be using.
- On a scale of 1 (not at all) to 10 (completely), rate how much you accept (believe) this thought.
- Identify a thought that is most helpful in reaffirming the situation.
What advice would you give a friend?
What supporting evidence do you have?
Is this a helpful thought?
What will you be thinking about in a week/month/year?
- Again, rate how completely you accept this new thought, from 1 (not at all) to 10 (completely).
If the score is less than five, come up with a new idea.
- How does it feel to hold that new thought?
You may feel less irritable, lighter and calmer.
The next time you get angry, pay attention to your thoughts. Are they cognitive distortions or negative thoughts? could you replace them
anger in relationships
“Angry people often have angry relationships,” says Dyer (2020, p. 53).
Over time, both partners can fall into a habitual anger pattern unless the anger cycle is broken. Instead, try to share each other's needs and wants and address issues as they arise.
Dyer (2020) proposes the following strategies:
- Step back
Imagine someone else in your situation. How would you advise them?
- Reframe the situation
If your partner is letting you down (perhaps forgetting to go to the grocery store), try a more understanding roleplay. Rather than escalating a bug to something more serious, try restating it.
Focus on the facts rather than an immediate emotional response.
- Use constructive communication
Show respect and maturity when talking to your partner. This one contains:
- to be honest
- Give the other person time and opportunity to share their views.
- Use of "I" statements when discussing feelings
- have compassion
- Working together on a solution
- Avoid insults, shouting, baseless accusations, revealing the past and sarcasm
- seek understanding
Instead of focusing on winning the argument or implying that the other person is overreacting, try to understand.
- Plan difficult conversations
Write down the items you need to address and practice discussing sensitive issues.
Top 4 exercises, activities and games for adults
The following exercises and activities will help you identify, manage, and express your or your clients' anger more positively. You will also find 15Aggression Management Testsin our related article.
Maintaining relationships is a worthwhile investment. Discussing emotional problems and upsets with friends and family can help you control and manage your emotions.
Not only that: “Spending time with friends and acquaintances whose company you enjoy can immunize you against stress and anger” (Catalano, 2018, p. 117).
2. Exercises and sports
Sport and exercise help manage anger and control emotions (Pels & Kleinert, 2016).
Walking, jogging, and gardening are effective in lowering anxiety levels, improving mood, and providing protection against stress and irritability (Catalano, 2018).
3. Eat well
Our microbiome (bacteria in our gut) has a significant impact on our emotional and mental well-being. Research shows that gut health is critical for every organ in the body, including the brain (Thomson, 2019).
A healthy and balanced diet canpositively influenceour cognitive and emotional state (Thomson, 2019).
4. Take a deep breath
Deep, slow breathing can have a positive effect on anxiety and depression.
Changing our breathing pattern, even if temporary, can increase blood flow and brain function, benefiting our physical and emotional well-being (Nestor, 2020).
Helpful worksheets and helpful questions
Anger management starts with understanding triggers.
Once these triggers are identified, it is possible to avoid them, reduce their effects or find ways to maintain emotional control (Dyer, 2020).
The following questions and worksheets may help.
anger management magazine
Understanding your anger history can provide valuable insight into triggers for outbursts or hurtful behavior (Karmin, 2017).
The questions inanger management magazineencourage him to think about what happened, how you reacted with anger, and how you could have done things differently.
Once you've logged several episodes of anger, you can begin to identify patterns and plan future coping mechanisms.
Adjust to your anger
The better you understand your anger, the more likely you are to manage your feelings and behavior and deal with your emotions (Karmin, 2017).
OTune-in to Your Anger Worksheet.asks a series of questions to understand the physical, emotional and behavioral signs of anger.
The answers can improve your awareness of rising extreme emotions such as anger.
Defying angry thoughts
“Distorted thinking involves thoughts that pop into your mind and make you feel worse” (Karmin, 2017). We all have them, and they're especially relevant before or during tantrums.
ODefying angry thoughtsThe worksheet examines whether you make mistakes in interpreting situations and helps you identify recurring patterns in your thinking.
The answers can help you recognize that your thought patterns are sometimes distorted and explore how you can interpret them differently and more positively.
Imagine being able to handle anger
Anger control can be learned. With appropriate techniques, individuals become better at identifying their anger triggers and implementing coping mechanisms. Customers can control their anger.
Use oImagine being able to handle angerWorksheet to imagine what life would be like if you could control your anger.
The following questions form the acronym FADE (Catalano, 2018):
- To feel
Imagine how you will feel emotionally and physically as you deal with your anger.
- To appear
Imagine how different you will look if you manage to control your anger.
Imagine what you will do differently when you get control of your anger.
Imagine what you will be empowered to do if you can control your anger.
The worksheet can be kept and reviewed as a reminder of the client's goals for anger management and what their life will be like once they gain that control.
Resentment can be another path to anger (Catalano, 2018)
Use ofrelease resentmentWorksheet, respond to a series of prompts to think about the grudges you may hold and examine what it would be like if they were released.
Improving the client's understanding of the factors that fuel their anger can help them identify and deal with triggers.
check your anger
Sometimes we are unaware of our anger and may not realize it is building up inside us.
Use ocheck your angerWorksheet to check your anger, focus on feelings, and consider actions you need to take. These detailed, science-based exercises will help you or your clients understand and use emotions to your advantage. 3 WITHOUT package
Download 3 Free Emotional Intelligence Exercises (PDF)
These detailed, science-based exercises will help you or your clients understand and use emotions to your advantage.
3 WITHOUT package
Download 3 Free Emotional Intelligence Tools (PDF)
By filling in your name and email address below.
Alternative methods of anger management
There are other ways to identify triggers that lead to anger and manage our emotional responses, including the following.
The best aggression apps
Mental health promotion apps are portable and affordable and can provide valuable interventions at any time.
Here are three of our favorites.
Felizoffers evidence-based solutions for dealing with life's stresses and challenges. This app helps users improve their mental well-being and manage anger by developing new, healthy habits.
free spaceis a top-notch app that successfully promotes mindfulness and meditation skills. These techniques are very effective for gaining composure and looking objectively at our emotions, including anger.
Stillis another much-loved app that can relieve stress and anxiety by adopting a calm attitude in challenging situations. Use the tool to balance life, manage stress,understand the emotions associatedand adopt a more positive and healthy attitude.
Yogait is one of the most widely practiced alternative treatments in the United States and has been linked to numerous health benefits, including relief from asthma and depression (Brown, Eubanks, & Keating, 2017).
Brown et al. (2017) confirmed the benefits of yoga practice to improve relaxation, quality of life and anger management.
anger management magazines
write diaryit is a commonly used and valuable component of many therapeutic treatments (Myles & Shafran, 2015). Whether you use a paper diary or digital apps, recording and tracking anger triggers and incidents is a valuable and powerful technique for gaining emotional control and self-awareness (Karmin, 2017).
Best Features of PositivePsychology.com
On our blog, we have many useful tools to help clients better manage their emotions and maintain a calm mindset when it's needed most.
For example, check out the following free materials:
- Image-based exposure worksheet
this worksheetinvites clients to visualize and relive strong negative emotions evoked by a difficult event to help reduce the power that situations or memories have.
- understand my anger
this worksheetcontains a series of questions and reflections to helpanger management for teensUnderstand the triggers, feelings and consequences of anger.
- Decatastrophizing Worksheet
this worksheetpresents five questions designed to help clients realize they are in a catastrophic situation and calmly explore the facts of a situation.
- rage exit and re-entry
this worksheethelps clients recognize when it's best to detach from conflict or difficult conversations, calm down, and re-engage later to facilitate better insights and shared problem solving.
- effects of my anger
this worksheethelps clients identify examples of anger-triggered behavior to reflect on who is affected and how.
- 17 Positive Communication Exercises
If you're looking for more science-based methods to help others communicate better, this collection contains17 validated positive communication tools for professionals. Use them to help others improve their communication skills and build deeper, more positive relationships.
A message to take home
We all get angry, but when it gets out of hand and our relationships at home and work suffer, we need to seek help. Whether stemming from genetics, family history, imitation of others, upbringing, or stress, extreme anger can be life-destroying (Dyer, 2020).
Anger can become a habit. We end up stuck in a pattern of overreacting to minor issues or mismanaging our emotions (Dyer, 2020).
However, if we can recognize our lack of control as a problem, it is possible to break the cycle of anger by identifying the triggers that upset us emotionally.
By slowing down our thinking and examining our thought processes, we can prevent angry thoughts from escalating and take back control.
When we change our perspective on the issues we face and acknowledge the emotions without being consumed by them, the chain of command between the trigger and the flare can be broken.
The worksheets and strategies in this article will help you avoid and manage anger before it gets out of control. Try them out on yourself or with clients to see when they are most effective.
We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Do not forgetDownload our three emotional intelligence exercises for free.
- Brown, J.L., Eubanks, C., & Keating, A. (2017). Yoga, quality of life, anxiety, and trauma in low-income adults with mental illness: a mixed methods study.Social Work in Mental Health,15(3), 308–330.
- Catalano, J. (2018).The Anger Management Workbook for Women: 5-Step Guide to Managing Your Emotions and Breaking the Anger Cycle. Althea Press.
- Cuddy, AJ (2018).Presence: Bring your boldest self to your biggest challenges. Small brown spark.
- Farber, J. (2020).Anger Management: How to Control Your Emotions and Find Joy in Life. untouched.
- Karmin, A. (2017).Anger Management Workbook for Men: Take Control of Your Anger and Master Your Emotions. Althea Press.
- Myles, P. & Shafran, R. (2015).The CBT Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide to Using CBT to Overcome Depression, Anxiety, and AngerRobinson.
- Nestor, J. (2020).Breathing: the new science of a lost art. Penguin Books.
- Pels, F., & Kleinert, J. (2016). Does exercise reduce aggressive feelings? An experiment examining the influence of movement type and social task conditions on irritability and anger reduction.perception and motor skills,122(3), 971-987.
- Thomson, H. (2019, September 4). Healthy gut, happy mind: what to eat to boost your well-being.New scientist.Retrieved May 29, 2021 from https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg24332460-600-healthy-gut-happy-mind-what-to-eat-to-boost-how-you-feel/
- United States National Library of Medicine. (2021). Mental Health Screening.Medline Plus.Retrieved May 29, 2021 from https://medlineplus.gov/lab-tests/mental-health-screening/
When your temper flares, put relaxation skills to work. Practice deep-breathing exercises, imagine a relaxing scene, or repeat a calming word or phrase, such as "Take it easy." You might also listen to music, write in a journal or do a few yoga poses — whatever it takes to encourage relaxation.What are the 5 levels of anger management? ›
xi The arousal cycle of anger has five phases: trigger, escalation, crisis, recovery and depression. Understanding the cycle helps us to understand our own reactions and those of others. The trigger phase is when an event gets the anger cycle started.How do you stop anger attacks? ›
Psychotherapy is the most common treatment for rage attacks. This may include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT examines thoughts and their links to feelings and behaviors. CBT and other psychotherapies take several months to work.What emotion is behind anger? ›
Emotions that can Trigger
Because anger is easier to feel, it can distract you from experiencing and healing the pain you feel inside. Among the most triggering primary emotions is frustration. Frustration is often experienced when you are feeling helpless or out of control.
The Emotions Anonymous 12-step recovery program is for people experiencing anxiety, grief, depression, anger, low self-esteem and other emotional difficulties. There is a 12-Step program for depression and a 12-Step program for anxiety, along with several others.What are the ABC's of anger? ›
A (Activation Agent) − The situation that triggers your anger. B (Believing) − How you interpret the activating event. C (Consequences) − This is your feelings and actions in response to your belief.What is the strongest word for anger? ›
Some common synonyms of anger are fury, indignation, ire, rage, and wrath.What are the 3 types of anger? ›
There are three types of anger which help shape how we react in a situation that makes us angry. These are: Passive Aggression, Open Aggression, and Assertive Anger.How do I let go of anger easily? ›
- Take deep breaths. ...
- Recite a comforting mantra. ...
- Try visualization. ...
- Mindfully move your body. ...
- Check your perspective. ...
- Express your frustration. ...
- Defuse anger with humor. ...
- Change your surroundings.
Why Am I So Angry? Anger is a natural human emotion, but when it feels constant and unrelenting, it may be a sign of something more such as stress or anxiety. It's OK to get angry. Life doesn't always happen in the way you want or need, and anger is a natural response to feeling wronged.
What causes anger issues? Many things can trigger anger, including stress, family problems, and financial issues. For some people, anger is caused by an underlying disorder, such as alcoholism or depression. Anger itself isn't considered a disorder, but anger is a known symptom of several mental health conditions.What is the biggest cause of anger? ›
A leading cause of anger is a person's environment. Stress, financial issues, abuse, poor social or familial situations, and overwhelming requirements on your time and energy can all contribute to the formation of anger.What part of the brain holds anger? ›
When an angry feeling coincides with aggressive or hostile behavior, it also activates the amygdala, an almond–shaped part of the brain associated with emotions, particularly fear, anxiety, and anger.What are female anger disorders? ›
These symptoms are periodic outbursts of unprovoked anger, marital maladjustment, serious suicide attempts, proneness to abuse of alcohol and drugs, a morbidly oriented critical attitude to people and a contrary obsessive need to excel in all endeavors, with an intense need for neatness and punctuality.Can an angry person change? ›
Can Someone with Anger Issues Change? People can and do change their behavioral patterns all the time–that's often the goal of therapy. However, people with anger issues can only change if they make a commitment and put in the work.What lies underneath anger? ›
Beneath the Surface
These emotions are often the underlying causes of one feeling anger, but they can be harder to spot if you are blinded by the rage you feel. The feelings that anger commonly masks include fear, anxiety, guilt, shame, embarrassment, betrayal, jealousy, sadness, hurt, and worry.
Anger is an emotion characterized by antagonism toward someone or something you feel has deliberately done you wrong. Anger can be a good thing. It can give you a way to express negative feelings, for example, or motivate you to find solutions to problems.Is anger management a coping skill? ›
Anger management is not one coping strategy but a set of strategies. Think of it as a toolbox. The strategies that work for you go into your toolbox, and the ones that don't stay out. You can practice anger management techniques on your own.Is anger a mental health challenge? ›
Anger only becomes a problem when it gets out of control and harms you or people around you. This can happen when: you regularly express your anger through unhelpful or destructive behaviour. your anger is having a negative impact on your overall mental and physical health.What is the first tip to control anger? ›
Set a timer. The first thing that comes to mind when you're angry likely isn't the thing you should say. Give yourself a set time before you respond. This time will help you be calmer and more concise.
- Throw or break something (safely). via GIPHY. ...
- Scream – in private. via GIPHY. ...
- Sing it out. via GIPHY. ...
- Dance it out. via GIPHY. ...
- Do a tough workout. via GIPHY. ...
- Journal. via GIPHY. ...
- Draw or paint. via GIPHY. ...
- Change your surroundings. via GIPHY.
Which approach is generally MOST successful at reducing anger? Getting rid of it. According to catharsis theory, expressing negative emotions produces a healthy release and is therefore good for the psyche.Where is anger stored in the body? ›
The emotion of anger is associated with the choleric humor and can cause resentment and irritability. It is believed that this emotion is stored in the liver and gall bladder, which contain bile. Anger can cause headaches and hypertension which can in turn affect the stomach and the spleen.What can I take naturally for anger? ›
- Primal Calm (formerly Proloftin)
Anger starts with the amygdala stimulating the hypothalamus, much like in the fear response. In addition, parts of the prefrontal cortex may also play a role in anger. People with damage to this area often have trouble controlling their emotions, especially anger and aggression.How do I stop getting triggered easily? ›
- Figure out your big three. ...
- Understand what comes right before a reaction. ...
- Identify your story. ...
- Recognize the physical signs. ...
- Find an effective method to interrupt your reaction. ...
- Take deep breaths. ...
- Change the atmosphere. ...
- Practice thought stopping.
Anger itself is not classified as a mental disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5). For this reason, there are no diagnostic criteria for anger issues. However, anger is associated with many mental health conditions, including: antisocial personality disorder.How do I stop emotionally reacting? ›
- Take a look at the impact of your emotions. Intense emotions aren't all bad. ...
- Aim for regulation, not repression. ...
- Identify what you're feeling. ...
- Accept your emotions — all of them. ...
- Keep a mood journal. ...
- Take a deep breath. ...
- Know when to express yourself. ...
- Give yourself some space.