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Explains anger, some possible causes and how it can make you feel and act. There's practical suggestions for what you can do and where you can go for support. This includes advice for friends and family.

Mae'r dudalen hon hefyd ar gael yn Gymraeg. This link will take you to a Welsh translation of this page.

How can I manage my anger long term?

If you think about how to manage your anger when you're feeling calmer, you can avoid feeling overwhelmed by it in the heat of the moment. This page covers some of the things you can do:

Look out for warning signs

Anger can cause a rush of adrenaline through your body. So before you recognise the emotion you're feeling you might notice:

  • Your heart is beating faster
  • Your breathing is quicker
  • Your body is becoming tense
  • You're clenching your jaw or fists

Learning to recognise these signs may help you think about how you want to react to a situation before you do anything. This can be difficult in the heat of the moment. But the earlier you notice how you're feeling, the easier it may be to choose how to manage your anger.

Breathing techniques have helped me to control my anger. I know that if I take a moment to concentrate on my breathing and not my anger, I'll have something else to focus on.

Learn your triggers

Understanding what sort of situations trigger your anger can help. You may be able to develop ways to cope and think about how to react before the situation happens. You might find it helpful to keep a diary or make notes about the times you've felt angry. You could record:

  • What were the circumstances?
  • Did someone say or do something to trigger your anger?
  • How did you feel?
  • How did you act?
  • How did you feel afterwards?

If you do this for a while, you might start to see patterns emerging. You could do this yourself using a mood diary. Many are available online for free.

You could also ask a professional therapist to support you to understand your triggers. See our page on treatment and support for anger.

Over time I have been able to spot certain triggers, which then enables me to look at myself and choose a healthier path.

Examine your thought patterns

If you're feeling upset or angry, you might find yourself automatically thinking or saying things like:

  • "This is all their fault."
  • "They never listen."
  • "This always happens to me."
  • "Other people should behave better."

It can make you feel worse if you think in terms of 'always', 'never' and 'should'. In reality things are rarely so black and white. Trying to replace these words with softer terms like 'sometimes' or 'could' when thinking about your situation might help you. They could break up negative thought patterns, help you to reflect more calmly on your situation and find new ways through conflicts.

When you're feeling angry, it may also help to try to name any emotions you experience. There may be several. Without justifying or explaining, try to acknowledge and accept them. For example, you may say, "I feel angry, rejected and scared right now". You can do this out loud, in your head or write it down. Accepting our emotions for what they are can sometimes be a helpful first step in being able to manage them.

The best advice I was given was to stop briefly once I am angry to ask myself what painful emotion I am feeling in the situation where I became angry. A bit of compassion for my own pain often stops me from taking that pain out on others.

Develop your communication skills

Our anger can sometimes get in the way of communicating our feelings and thoughts effectively. People may focus on our anger and find it hard to listen to what we're saying.

If you can express your anger by talking in an assertive, respectful way about what has made you angry, then you may be more likely to be listened to or understood by others.

Being assertive means standing up for yourself while still respecting other people and their opinions. It can:

  • Make communication easier
  • Stop tense situations getting out of control
  • Benefit your relationships and self-esteem

Learning to be assertive might not feel easy to start with, but here are some things to try:

  • Think about the outcome you want to achieve. What's making you angry, and what do you want to change? Is it enough just to explain what you're angry about?
  • Be specific. For example, you could open your statement with, "I feel angry with you because..." Using the phrase 'I feel' avoids blaming anyone and the other person is less likely to feel attacked.
  • Really listen to the other person's response and try to understand their point of view.
  • Keep practising. Try not to worry if the conversation doesn’t always go the way you hoped it would. If you feel yourself getting angry, you might want to come back to the conversation another time.

The organisation MindTools provides tips on respectful assertiveness on its website.

What helps me is acknowledging how I'm feeling and why, then taking time to address it productively.

Look at your lifestyle

Looking after your wellbeing more generally could help you feel calmer and more in control when things happen that make you feel angry. You might want to:

  • Think about how you use drugs and alcohol. Although you might feel this could help you cope in the short term, alcohol and drugs can affect our ability to control our emotions and actions. They can also be a factor in violence. For information and support on reducing or stopping the use of drugs or alcohol, you can contact Turning Point or Alcoholics Anonymous. See our pages on the mental health effects of alcohol and recreational drugs for more information.
  • Try to get active. Being physically active can help let out any tension you're feeling. It can also have benefits to your self-esteem. Even gentle exercise like going for a walk can make a difference. See our pages on physical activity for more information.
  • Try to get good sleep. Not sleeping well can have a huge impact on how we're feeling, and how well we cope with things that happen to us. See our pages on sleep problems for more information.
  • Think about what you eat and drink. See our page on food and mental health for more information.
  • Find ways to manage stress. We can feel pressured or stressed for lots of different reasons. Taking some time to learn how to deal with pressure can help us feel more in control of difficult situations. See our page on managing stress for more information.
  • Take care online. There's lots on the internet that may make us feel angry or distressed. It can be hard to avoid. And sometimes we might look at this content more than we'd like, or get into arguments with others online. It could help to take breaks from the internet. Or change the accounts you follow or websites you visit. Our pages on online mental health have more information.

Exercise is the best thing to manage my anger. It transforms my mood!

Take action

Sometimes our anger can be caused by problems within our communities or our wider society. This can make us feel powerless or frustrated. But sometimes anger can be a helpful tool. You could try and direct your anger into working for positive change.

It can be hard to know where to start but things to think about include:

  • Mind campaigns. Visit our campaigns page to find out how we're campaigning for change, and how to get involved.
  • Community groups. There might be campaigns or volunteering projects to improve your local area and community. Do IT has information on volunteer groups in your area.
  • Other charities or campaign groups. There are many charities or groups trying to make a difference to the world. You may be able to get involved with their work or support them. This could be through fundraising, campaigning, signing petitions or supporting them on social media.
  • Take part in local decisions. Your area may have regular meetings of local, parish or town councils. You can often attend these meetings to have a say in decisions affecting your community. The UK Government website has a search tool to find your local council.
  • Write to your MP. You can contact your local member of parliament (MP) to tell them about a problem in your area and ask them to take action. The UK Parliament website has information on how to contact an MP.
  • Share your story. Sharing your experiences with others can be a powerful way to help others or to create change. You could do this through peer support groups or you could share your experiences online.

Raising the issues with the local council, and focusing my anger into good things. This helped me feel a sense of community, and allowed me to direct my anger away from harm, and towards something positive.

This information was published in June 2023.

References and bibliography available on request.

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