6 Steps to Manage Your Anger

Traffic, long lines at the grocery store, a disagreement with your spouse, workplace conflict. The list of triggers that can make us angry is endless. Anger is a normal emotion and a natural response to real or perceived threats. Angry feelings can range from mild irritation to intense rage. When anger is felt too intensely, too frequently, or expressed inappropriately, however, it becomes a problem.

The American Psychological Association defines someone who is easily angered as having a low tolerance for frustration, inconvenience, or annoyance. Unmanaged anger can take a real toll on your health and relationships and may even lead to violence or aggression.

Mental health experts used to advocate venting anger as healthy and therapeutic. They've found this approach is anything but. Venting your anger just makes you better at venting your anger. Furthermore, unchecked anger can become a habitual response.

Anger management techniques can range from simple, immediate responses to long-term, preventive strategies.

In the Moment

  • Take a time out. There's nothing like a little time, space, or change of environment to clear your head and give you a fresh perspective on an anger-provoking situation.
  • Express your anger calmly and think carefully before you speak. Use "I" statements to express your feelings ("I feel angry when...").
  • Get some exercise.
  • Practice relaxation skills such as deep breathing or visualization.
  • Practice commanding yourself to stop the thoughts that are making you angry.
  • Use humor to diffuse tension.

Long Term

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, these tactics are not enough. If you continue to struggle with anger, it may be time to get professional help. Seek individual counseling or take a group anger management class.

Group Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) effectively helps people with substance abuse and mental health disorders learn to manage their anger. During group anger management classes, you will learn to break the cycle of anger by becoming aware of the things that trigger your anger; understand the physical, behavioral, emotional, and cognitive warning signs of anger; and recognize the consequences of your anger (for example, strained relationships with family, friends, and co-workers).

You'll also develop long-term anger management strategies. Group CBT may include conflict resolution skill and assertiveness training to teach you stand up for your rights in a respectful way.

Don't let anger take a toll on your health and damage important relationships. Start with a few simple anger management steps and see if they make a difference.


National Institutes of Health. National Institute of Mental Health. "Intermittent Explosive Disorder Affects up to 16 Million Americans." Web. 5 June 2006.


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Substance AbuseTreatment. "Anger Management." Web. 2002.


"Anger Management: Tips and Techniques for Getting Anger Under Control." HelpGuide.org. Web.http://www.helpguide.org/mental/anger_management_control_tips_techniques.htm

"Anger management tips: 10 ways to tame your temper." Mayo Clinic. Web. 25 June 2009.


"Controlling  Anger -- Before It Controls You." American Psychological Association. Web.