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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.

What can I do to manage my anger?

It can be frightening when your anger overwhelms you. And it can be very difficult to manage it in the moment. But there are a few things you can try.

Remember: If your anger can be violent or abusive, this can cause serious problems in your life and relationships. It can be very damaging to the people around you. In this case, it's essential to seek professional treatment and support for your anger.

Managing anger in the moment

If we're really angry, it can be very difficult to calm down in the moment.

It may help to try to delay your reaction for as long as possible. Allowing some time between when you first feel angry and when you react may help you feel calmer or more in control.

Here's some things you can try:

  • Think to yourself 'I’m feeling really angry right now' without trying to justify it or understand why. Accepting the feeling without trying to explain it can sometimes be helpful.
  • Take yourself out of the situation. You could go for a walk, go to a different room or log off if the situation is online.
  • Use a code word for when you feel angry. You could say this to others or to yourself to signal that you need some time to yourself before talking any further. This may help you avoid having to explain yourself in the moment.
  • Focus on what's around you. Try listing 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste.
  • Focus on your breath. Breathe slowly and deeply. Try breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. Some people find it helpful to count while doing this.
  • Use a grounding object. Keep a small object with you to hold and focus on when you feel angry. For example, you could use a marble, a fidget toy or a piece of fabric.
  • Keep notes on your phone with reminders to yourself about what to do when you feel angry.
Young People Chatting In Bathroom

Under 18? Read our tips on anger for young people

What helps me is getting away from the situation to cool down

Try some ways to distract or calm yourself

If possible, try to do something to distract yourself for a while before trying to deal with the situation that made you feel angry.

Doing something to distract yourself mentally or physically can help stop your anger escalating. It could be anything that completely changes your situation, thoughts or patterns.

Not all of these tips work for everyone. You may need to experiment and try different things until you find what works for you.

  • Relax your body. If you can feel your body getting tense, try focusing on each part of your body in turn to tense and then relax your muscles. See our pages on relaxation for more tips on how to relax.
  • Try mindfulness techniques. Mindfulness can help you to be aware of when you're getting angry. And it can help calm your body and mind. See our pages on mindfulness to learn more.
  • Try to avoid rumination. Rumination is when we think about an issue or problem over and over again in our head. For example, you may be thinking of all the reasons why you feel angry. This can be unhelpful in the moment, as it may make you feel more distressed or worked up. Try to remember that you don’t need to 'solve' or justify your anger. And you can distract yourself for now and then come back to the issue once you feel more in control.
  • Take a cold shower. Or try running cold water on your hands and face.
  • Talk to a trusted person who's not connected to the situation. This could be a friend, family member, counsellor or peer support group. Expressing your thoughts out loud may help you understand why you're angry and help calm you. If you don't feel comfortable talking to someone you know, you can call the Samaritans. The helpline is confidential, open 24 hours a day and you can talk about anything that's upsetting you. Our useful contacts page lists other organisations that can also help.
  • Use up your energy safely in other ways. This can help relieve some of your angry feelings in a way that doesn't hurt you or others. For example, you could try tearing up paper, hitting a pillow or smashing ice cubes.
  • Do some physical activity. It may help to work off your anger through exercise or other physical activity. Sports like running or boxing can be helpful for releasing pent up energy. Or putting on upbeat music and dancing.
  • Do something with your hands, like fixing or making something. Or something creative like drawing or colouring.
  • Express your anger through writing or art. For example, you could write all of your feelings down in a journal or record them to yourself on your phone. This may help you get those feelings out of your head. Some people find it helpful to do this and then rip up or delete the notes afterwards.
  • Spend time in green space or bring nature into your everyday life. This can reduce stress or anger and help you feel more relaxed. See our pages on nature and mental health for more information.

Dealing with one problem at a time has helped. I keep a diary in which I write my thoughts, this helps me process things and usually I feel better after jotting them down. Exercise and music are another great coping mechanism. I love going to the gym and lifting weights.

Remember: Learning new techniques to help manage your feelings can take time and practice. Try to be patient and gentle with yourself as you learn these new skills.

This information was published in June 2023.

References and bibliography available on request.

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