Anger is an emotion we find expressed all around us. If you turn on the news or quickly scroll through social media, you won’t have to go far before you encounter news of a road rage incident, an angry thread or social media post, or a viral video of a fed-up customer taking their anger out on a hapless and innocent server for one reason or another.
Anger as an emotion isn’t positive or negative. The important question to ask is whether that anger is expressed appropriately – one that doesn’t cause harm to you or other people.
For many adults, anger is an emotion they don’t know how to control, and that’s a problem for them in their relationships and interactions with other people. Uncontrolled anger damages relationships, and we can say and do things in anger that we regret for the rest of our lives.
Keeping anger in and trying to lock it away isn’t a helpful alternative because like most things we hide, its influence is still felt in our lives, and it can appear at the worst time and in the worst way possible. It’s important, then, to learn to keep anger under control and be able to express it in a healthy way for our sake and the sake of the people around us.
9 Anger Management Tips for You to Try
Here are a few anger management tips to help you get your anger under control and keep you from damaging others. Some of these tips are strategies you can implement in the moment when you feel your anger rising and beginning to exert its influence. Others are anger management tips you can apply when you’re calm, and they are long-term strategies that will help you get your anger under control.
1. Take a time out
Time outs aren’t just useful for kids; they can help adults avoid unwanted trouble too. When you feel yourself getting angry, rather than staying in the situation and letting it escalate, you can deescalate things and take some time to cool off. It may mean leaving the room for a few minutes to regain your composure, going for a short walk, and then getting back into the conversation when you’re calmer.
Some people have a kit they prepare beforehand to help them calm down in those moments when their anger feels overwhelming – the kit can have things that calm you down such as music, scented candles, or a stress ball. Instead of remaining in the situation, take a time out and give yourself room to calm down.
One way to deal with anger in the moment and over the long-term is to relax and find ways to reduce stress. When we are stressed, our emotional responses are less guarded and closer to the surface. It’s way easier to lash out when you’re feeling tired and stressed out than if you’re feeling well-rested and relaxed. So as a favor to yourself and the people around you, find ways to relax such as meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, and yoga.
These stress-relieving methods will help your overall mental health which will position you to handle anger more effectively when you feel it. Work also tends to cause a lot of stress for people, so another strategy is to take breaks (where possible) during your workday, and the year too. Taking the time to rest and rejuvenate reduces stress and helps you have a frame of mind that’s better equipped to deal with anger and other emotions.
3. Get some exercise
Along with finding ways to relax, getting some exercise is an excellent way to reduce stress and feel good. Not only does exercise reduce tension and get rid of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenalin, but it also elevates your mood by stimulating the production of endorphins, which boost your mood and act as the body’s natural painkillers. Talk with your doctor and find a form of exercise that is safe and enjoyable for you to do.
4. Don’t be quick to react
In general, when we’re feeling angry, it can override our inhibitions and we can become impulsive with our words and actions. Sometimes the most helpful thing you can do when you’re feeling angry is to hold your tongue, saying and doing nothing. Take a time out (the first tip) or take up a task to distract yourself.
Instead of reacting quickly, slow down and don’t act without thinking. This is quite a challenge because at that moment the last thing we feel like doing is slowing down, but that’s what you need to do to make sure your anger doesn’t lead you down paths you regret.
Instead of reacting quickly to news or someone’s actions or words, take time to think through things. Don’t jump to conclusions and think before you speak. Anger makes us want to speak now rather than later, but instead of speaking we should listen more and ask questions.
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, for human anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. – James 1:19-20
Anger often short-circuits our thinking, and we believe and act on our hasty conclusions. Don’t be quick to react or respond; slow down, listen and ask questions so that you understand what’s going on before you act.
5. Express your anger
Only when you are feeling calm and have collected your thoughts should you express your anger. Speak calmly, using “I” statements. You can write out what you want to say, or go through it carefully in your head, and then express how you feel. Bottling anger up isn’t always helpful; and when expressed, it needs to be in a way that isn’t verbally or physically abusive.
Sometimes the things that cause us anger can be solved using lateral or creative thinking. Whatever it may be that’s making you angry, you can dedicate some time and energy to resolving the issue. If your work environment is a site of contention, you can see about getting different shifts or working remotely if that’s possible.
If the mess in your house is getting to you, you can choose to ignore it for a while or clean certain spaces where you are and leave others to your housemates to sort out. In some cases, you can use humor to relieve tension and see the lighter side of the situation. The possibilities are many, and you may find that if you apply your mind, a solution may present itself.
7. Learn to let go
Sometimes what makes us angry is rooted in our tense relationship with someone. If someone else did the same thing, we likely wouldn’t react in the same way. When anger calcifies into resentment or a deep-seated grudge, it’s easy to react in anger to that person and whatever provocations they give.
In such cases, one way to deal with the anger is to let go of our resentment toward the person. We may be carrying a chip on our shoulder and people or situations easily trigger our anger. We need to learn to let go and forgive. Being able to move on will help us see new situations and people with clearer eyes and with a willingness to listen without jumping to conclusions.
8. Know yourself
In the long-term (and the short-term), one helpful tool in dealing with anger is for you to know yourself. There may be certain situations or people that trigger your anger. Invest time in getting to know yourself by reading books on anger management, or journaling to keep track of the times you’ve gotten angry.
This will help you learn your triggers, and once you know what they are, you won’t be caught off your guard. Having that knowledge of yourself will help you to prepare for what to do when the triggering situation arises, and you’ll handle your anger more effectively.
9. Get help
If you find that your anger is out of control and these self-help techniques haven’t helped you significantly in constructively dealing with anger, consider seeing a doctor or mental health specialist to discover whether you have anger management problems.
If so, you may need focused therapy to help you get to the root of your anger and provide you with tools to get it in hand. Addressing your anger head-on with therapy will help you and your loved ones by restoring the peace and joy God desires for all people.
“Workout”, Courtesy of Jonathan Borba, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Sitting on the Ledge”, Courtesy of Cristian Newman, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Enjoying the View”, Courtesy of Hiva Sharifi, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Standing on the Beach”, Courtesy of Raymond Revaldi, Unsplash.com, CC0 License