Someone steals the parking spot you’ve been patiently waiting for the past 5 minutes. Your partner forgets to put away their dirty coffee mug for the third time this week. The restaurant forgets you didn’t want onions in your burger. Your coworker blames you for their error at a meeting in front of your boss. Your child creates art with your cherished baseball card collection.
How do you feel? Angry; it’s completely normal to feel this way.
Anger is a basic but powerful emotion that all humans have experienced. It can make us say and do regrettable things in the heat of the moment. It can cloud our judgment, causing us to behave unpredictably.
If we aren’t able to calm down or manage this feisty emotion appropriately, it can create issues in all areas of our life and affect relationships, family dynamics, work performance and success with school.
Here are 10 tips to help you feel less angry so you can improve your emotional regulation skills and learn not to let that emotion get the best of you. Be sure to check out other parts of our emotion blog series.
Part 1: How Bottling Up Emotions Can Hurt Your Physical and Mental Health
Part 2: How To Cope With Difficult Emotions
Part 3: 10 Tips To Become Less Angry
1. Minimize Potential Triggers to Become Less Angry
Do you know what usually ticks you off? From being hungry, getting a poor night’s sleep, feeling rushed, being tired, and waiting in line to watching the news, there are different things that can cause you to lose your temper. Everyone has their own individual set of pet peeves and knowing what yours are can help you manage your anger.
When you recognize and identify what your triggers are, you can schedule your day to minimize these triggers’ effects. You can’t control other peoples’ actions and reactions but you can manage your own, and plan for situations that you know will cause you anger and frustration.
For instance, if you know you don’t like waiting in line at the bank, you can find out when it is the least busy and go during that time. If that time is inconvenient for you, bring something you enjoy doing while you wait so that the situation is less frustrating.
Mentally prepare by going through the ways you will calm yourself when faced with your triggers.
2. Understand How Your Body Responds When You Are Angry
The next time you feel angry, notice how your body responds. Sit down and do a thorough scan of your body from head to toe. Pay attention to your body sensations and how you are feeling.
Maybe your neck is warm or you’re taking shorter breaths. You may start to sweat,feel your heart rate and blood pressure go up, or clench your fists and jaw. Sometimes you might feel like you want to explode and scream at the top of your lungs. You may feel like your mind is racing or that you’re out of control – focus might be next to impossible.
These are your warning signs. When you are able to recognize these, you can take immediate action to help diffuse tension and prevent you from doing and saying things you will regret later. By focusing your awareness on how your body feels, you’re pulling your mind away from what triggered you in the first place.
3. Try Relaxation Techniques to Become Less Angry
From meditation, mantras, mindfulness practices, and yoga, to guided imagery and visualization, there are many different types of relaxation techniques that you can try to help lengthen your short fuse. Some examples of techniques include:
- Come up with a mantra that relaxes you. Repeat a simple phrase or a single word until you feel less tense.
- Have a favorite positive memory handy. Visualize the experience or image as though you are re-living it.
- Yoga has been shown to be an effective way to manage anger and emotional dyscontrol.
4. Countdown and Breathe
Close your eyes and count down from 10. Focus on the numbers and don’t stop until you’ve reached zero. This gives you some time to cool off. Assess how you feel and if you’re still furious, do the countdown again.
Another way to help manage your temper is to try breathing exercises. Breathe slowly and deeply from your diaphragm. As your lungs fill up, you’ll feel your chest and lower belly rise. Keep breathing until you feel a sense of calm.
5. Move Your Body to Become Less Angry
Exercising regularly isn’t just about improving physical health. It can be an effective anger management tool.
A cross-sectional design study looked at the relationship between exercise and anger management among hospital nurses in South Korea. It showed that those who regularly exercised were more likely to have lower levels of state anger and higher levels of anger control than those who did not. It concluded that exercise may help individuals manage their anger better.
6. Remove Yourself From The Situation
When you’re angry, the first thing you will want to do is to act on it. You may yell, scream and punch a wall. You may say horrible things to the person who is causing you to feel this way.
Instead of letting anger take its grip on you, remove yourself from the situation. Take a break. Leave the room. Go outside. Turn around. Close your eyes. A change of scenery allows you to distance yourself from the problem and think clearly. It gives you time and space to process what happened and your feelings.
7. Find the Underlying Emotions
Anger is a basic emotion that most of us can easily recognize. However, when you go under the layers of this emotion, you’ll see that it’s more complicated than that. Anger can mask a host of different underlying emotions. You may actually feel disappointed, jealous, embarrassed, guilty, dismissive, threatened, helpless, unfocused, rejected or pressured.
For instance, your partner tells you they are staying late at work. You may be angry at them for prioritizing their job over you. But maybe you’re actually disappointed that you won’t see them until later. Or perhaps you’re feeling threatened or jealous of their new co-worker.
Once you can pinpoint the underlying emotion, it makes it easier to communicate your feelings to the other person, resolve the issue, and feel better.
8. Express Yourself Assertively
Bottling up emotions can have negative health consequences. It’s important to learn how to regulate and express our emotions in healthy ways. Expressing anger can be difficult because we are tempted to lash out and act aggressively and in demanding or unreasonable ways.
Instead, you need to learn how to express yourself assertively. This means expressing why you feel angry, communicating your needs, explaining what meeting those needs would look like, and doing it all in a respectful manner.
9. Improve Your Communication Skills
Miscommunication is often the culprit of interpersonal conflict. Party A does not feel understood and Party B misunderstood what Party A meant. This leads to an argument, leaving both parties angry and frustrated. We have all said things without thinking, especially when we are emotionally charged. We say unintentionally mean things to our loved ones. We hurt them. We’ve been hurt.
But instead of trying to get your point across, take the time to listen to what the other person is saying. Slow down. Lower your voice. Think carefully about how you will respond. Speak in a neutral tone. When you calm down, tensions ease and your partner is more likely to mirror your behavior. Once the angry feeling subsides, it is much easier to have a constructive discussion about the issue.
10. Get Help From A Professional
If you are very easily triggered and find yourself feeling angry all the time, it’s important to seek help from your doctor or healthcare professional. You may have an underlying mental health condition that requires appropriate treatment. They may recommend talk therapy, medication or a combination of both.
A therapist can help you identify and understand your anger triggers, develop coping mechanisms and offer treatment options. Shadow work is psychotherapy and a type of personal development where it helps uncover parts of your psyche that are suppressed and hidden called your “shadow self”. In conjunction with plant medicine, it can help integrate your emotions, find the root of their cause such as past trauma and help you gain insight into yourself and how you see the world.
Find a licensed mental health provider in our directory to support your healing journey.
- American Psychological Association. (2022, March 3). Controlling Anger — Before It Controls You. Https://Www.apa.org. https://www.apa.org/topics/anger/control
- Burke, A., Lam, C. N., Stussman, B., & Yang, H. (2017). Prevalence and patterns of use of mantra, mindfulness and spiritual meditation among adults in the United States. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 17(316). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12906-017-1827-8
- Kim, Y.-R., Choi, H.-G., & Yeom, H.-A. (2019). Relationships between Exercise Behavior and Anger Control of Hospital Nurses. Asian Nursing Research, 13(1), 86–91. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.anr.2019.01.009
- Tl, A. M., Sn, O., Sharma, M. K., Choukse, A., & Hr, N. (2021). Development and validation of Yoga Module for Anger Management in adolescents. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 61, 102772. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctim.2021.102772