We all experience anger. When managed correctly and kept in check, anger can be a positive thing—a red flag that something’s wrong, a catalyst for change, a good self-motivator. But if not handled properly, anger can turn destructive and negatively impact your health and relationships.
Because anger is such a powerful emotion, dealing with it can be both challenging and confusing. Here are some proven anger management strategies to help you stay calm.
Determine the Cause of Your Anger
The first step to dealing with anger is to know what set you off in the first place. You may be irritable because of life stress, a lack of sleep, or hormonal changes. Feelings of anger can also stem from an underlying mental disorder such as anxiety or depression.
Identify (and Avoid) Anger Triggers
More often than not, something specific is triggering your anger. Everyone has their own triggers for what makes them angry, but some common ones include situations in which you feel:
- Like people are not respecting your feelings or possessions
- Like you’re being treated unfairly
- Threatened or attacked
Being able to predict what situations will provoke you is key to keeping your temper under control. You may not be able to eliminate everything in your life that causes you anger and frustration, but cutting out what you can go a long way.
Many people view venting as a good way to release pent-up anger and frustration. But venting may not be as helpful as you think.
Research shows that instead of helping you let off steam, venting just fuels the fire of your anger. It’s hard to forget an annoyance if you’re constantly talking about it. And the more you talk about it, the angrier you’ll become.
If you find yourself wanting to talk a lot about what is making you angry, it might be a good idea to schedule a few sessions with a therapist, who may have some effective ideas on dealing with anger.
Trying to solve a problem is a good idea, but stewing in your anger is not. Mindfulness meditation is a proven strategy for minimizing rumination.
Start an Anger Diary
Journaling is a great way to vent in a healthier way. Research shows that writing when you feel angry not only helps release negative emotions but can also reduce physical pain. It can help you see or understand an anger-provoking situation in a different light. Putting your feelings on paper is also a simple way to track those things that really “push your buttons.”
Research on the benefits of journaling supports the effectiveness of writing down your feelings and working through them on paper. The written expression of anger allows you to actively do something with your anger rather than just letting it make you feel bad.
A Word From Verywell
If you’re struggling to manage your anger, or if your anger is causing problems in your life, you may want to consider professional help. Sometimes, mental health issues like depression or anxiety can contribute to anger management problems. Talk to your physician about a referral to a therapist or even an anger management class.
Authored by Elizabeth Scott, PhD and Medically reviewed by Amy Morin, LCSW