Anger is a natural emotion. But when anger is mismanaged or hidden, it can affect your health, career, and relationships. If you find yourself struggling with anger issues, learn about strategies to help you deal with your emotions in a healthier way.
There are many relaxation techniques that can help you reduce tension. Some examples include meditation, yoga, and deep breathing. Learning how to relax your body can help you release anger. Organizations like the American Psychological Association (APA) recommend practicing these techniques on a daily basis.
When feeling angry, it is common to think that the situation is a lot worse than it really is. You may interpret missing your flight, for example, as a catastrophe. This perspective, though, can make you feel angrier. Instead, ask yourself what you hope to achieve. For example, is your goal to arrive at your destination safely? If so, focus on steps that you can take to make that happen, like finding out if you can get on the next flight. Also, it is helpful to use sound logic to think through the situation. For example, no one is trying to sabotage your trip. Delays and cancellations happen to everyone and are due to a variety of factors, like weather conditions and mechanical problems.
People who are good problem solvers are able to zero in on the situation at hand and analyze it from a number of different angles. If you want to move away from being angry and move toward finding a solution, try this approach:
Are you having a conflict with someone you are close to? If so, think about the possible consequences of lashing out. For example, you could really hurt this person and damage the relationship. Is this really what you want? Instead of letting your anger flare up, schedule a time to discuss the situation in a peaceful location where you feel at ease.
When you are ready to talk about an important situation, work hard to get your message across without attacking the other person. For example, one effective strategy is to use "I-statements," such as "I feel angry and neglected when you don't ask me about my about my job." The goal is to express how you feel in a way that is direct but not hurtful to the other person. Making comments like "You think your job is more important than mine" is telling the other person how they feel and may cause them to become defensive.
Discussing an important issue, though, is not just about expressing yourself. Listening carefully is also extremely important. What is the other person saying? Do they have a valid point? If you allow your anger to take over, you will not be able to find common ground. So, strive to be clear when you speak but also patient when the other person is voicing their point of view.
It is possible to learn new ways to deal with anger. Anger does not have to take over your life and negatively impact the lives of the people around you. If you find yourself struggling, though, there are therapists who specialize in anger management. A therapist can not only help address your anger but also other mental health issues that you may be dealing with.
American Psychological Association
Mental Health America
Canadian Mental Health Association
Canadian Psychiatric Association
Anger management. Helpguide website. Available at: http://www.helpguide.org/articles/emotional-health/anger-management.htm. Updated February 2016. Accessed March 24, 2016.
Anger management 2: counselors strategies and skills. Eric Digests website. Available at: http://www.ericdigests.org/2004-3/anger-2.html. Accessed March 24, 2016.
Dealing with anger in marriage. The Ohio State University website. Available at: http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/5000/pdf/5191.pdf. Updated April 23, 2010. Accessed March 24, 2016.
Problem solving strategies. Lorain County Community College website. Available at: http://www.lorainccc.edu/current+students/advising+and+counseling/counseling/problem+solving.htm. Accessed March 24, 2016.
Strategies for controlling your anger. American Psychological Association website. Available at: http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/controlling-anger.aspx. Updated October 2011. Accessed March 24, 2016.
Last reviewed March 2016 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.