7 Tips for Controlling Your Anger

To feel angry from time to time is completely natural and completely human. Anger is one way the body responds to threatening and dangerous situations, and expressing anger can be both necessary and beneficial. Anger, however, can quickly escalate — angry individuals can become verbally and physically dangerous to others.

If you’re prone to losing your temper, there are steps you can take to help keep your emotions in check. Below are seven tips designed to help control angry feelings when they arise:

1. Learn to relax

Relaxation strategies are one of your best defenses against anger. If you can calm yourself down before your anger reaches peak level, you will never run the risk of taking things too far. Soothe your anger in whatever way works best for you — try yoga or other forms of meditation, deep breathing, soothing candles and aromas, calming imagery, or talking with a trusted friend. The objective is to control your anger before it gets out of hand.

2. Just walk away

If you begin to feel your anger rising to an out-of-control level, one of the first things you can do is remove yourself from the situation. Physically get up and walk away from the people or place that is upsetting you, and give yourself a few minutes to calm down. Walk around the block, control your breathing, and distract yourself from the stressful situation. Give your anger a few minutes to defuse before you begin to say or do things you might later regret. A temporary change of scenery can provide perspective and allow you to sort out your thoughts logically.

3. Don’t say the first thing that comes to mind

When people are angry, they have a tendency to say powerful, hurtful statements that they would never say under different circumstances. Think before you speak, and consider the long-term effects your words could have. When tempers flare, guards are down and insults become fair game. Before you speak, ask yourself, “Do I really mean every part of this statement?” Remember that words spoken in the heat of anger are rarely from the heart.

4. Monitor your tone and volume level

Words take on a very different meaning when they are spoken in an angry tone or with a raised voice. It is ok to be upset, and it is ok to express your feelings — but screaming at someone adds tension to an already uncomfortable situation. Try to keep your voice calm and level while speaking slowly and clearly. Make a conscious effort not to yell and you will be amazed at how much more civil an argument can feel.

5. Listen

When you are angry with another person, your mind goes into overdrive and processes thoughts at a rapid pace. Instead of jumping to conclusions and getting overly defensive, try to actually listen to what is being said to you. Rather than tuning the other person out and mentally preparing your next accusation, give yourself time to hear and process how the other person feels. You may find that the situation can be more easily resolved than you originally thought.

6. Recognize your triggers

If you understand your anger and what sets it off, you can help prevent dangerous situations before they occur. Be aware of things that consistently upset you or make your anger difficult to manage, and minimize your interaction with them. If you can, remove people, places, or circumstances that trigger your anger from your life. Master a few relaxation strategies and be prepared to use them at a moment’s notice.

7. Seek help

Even the best of intentions will sometimes not be enough to keep your anger at bay. For many, anger management is a lifelong battle. If you constantly feel out of control and have tried in vain to manage your feelings, do not be afraid to ask for professional help. Anger management therapy can give you the skills and mindset necessary to control your anger in the best possible way — leaving you better able to manage your life and relationships.

To learn more about anger management and how counseling can help your learn how to manage your anger in your relationship, click here.