How to Manage your Anger

Anger is a natural emotion that we all experience from time to time. It’s completely fine and human to experience anger. However, when left unchecked and expressed aggressively, it can become a destructive force that can ruin relationships, create difficulties at work, damage health, and negatively impact our lives. In this post, I’ll offer some practical advice on how to manage your anger and prevent it from controlling your life.

An important aspect of managing anger is learning to control your reactions. I want to make it clear that feeling angry is ok. What matters most is how you react, or behave, in response to that anger. I like to think of anger as a secondary emotion that often masks deeper feelings of hurt or fear. I heard somewhere that “anger is fear in a leather jacket,” and I’m a broken record with my clients about how anger is always giving us valuable information. It’s usually telling us that a need is not being met.

Ok, so what do you do with this anger when it arises?

  1. Acknowledge your anger. Take a deep breath and anchor yourself in the present moment. Get curious so that you can identify your thoughts and physical sensations in response to the anger you are feeling. What are you feeling in your body as you experience the anger? What are the thoughts that are popping up? What are you compelled to do? Lash out? Numb out? In essence, explore how and why you feel the anger. This exploration, without judgment, is mindful emotion awareness.
  2. Identify the need that is not being met. For example, if you are feeling angry because your partner has been neglecting you, specifically identify what you need in that moment. Maybe your need is to spend quality time with your partner or maybe you need your partner to text you when they are running late. Or maybe a colleague at work talked over you in a meeting and dismissed you. Perhaps what you need is to feel respected and understood by your team.
  3. Choose a constructive response that is line with the demands of the current situation. Think about your main goal in this situation. Is it to maintain your self-respect, obtain an objective, or maintain the relationship? Choose the most important goal in that specific situation and act accordingly in a respectful way. Sometimes just walking away from the situation is the most appropriate response. Sometimes you need to calmly communicate your needs instead of lashing out.
    • “I’ve been feeling disconnected lately. I know you’ve been busy with work, but I feel like we haven’t been spending enough quality time together, just the two of us. I miss you. Maybe we could plan a date night this weekend?”
    • “I wanted to talk to you about something that happened in our last meeting. I noticed that you spoke over me a few times, and it made it difficult for me to get my points across. I value your input and I also want to make sure that we both have the chance to speak our minds. So, in future meetings, could we make a conscious effort to not interrupt each other and to let everyone have their turn to speak? I think it would help us have more productive conversations and achieve better outcomes.”

Ok, cool, but what if your anger is too intense, you’re seeing red, and you can’t even do any of the above? Well, it’s time to use some emergency coping skills before you come back to mindful emotion awareness.

TIPP your Body Chemistry! This is all about doing things that can quickly change your body temperature or physiology to help you reduce the intensity of your anger.

  • T is for Temperature. Cold water works wonders. Try splashing cold water on your face, placing cold-packs over your eyes, or hopping into a cold shower. Think of it as a shock to your system that snaps you out of your emotional spiral.
  • I if for Intense Exercise. Work out at the cardio level. Go for a run or a speedy walk. If you only have a few minutes, try doing a few jumping jacks or running in place.
  • P if for Paced Breathing. Slow down your breathing and take deeper breaths. Try inhaling for four counts, holding for seven counts, and exhaling for eight counts. Repeat this cycle a few times and notice how much more relaxed you feel.
  • P is for Progressive Muscle Relaxation. This skill involves tensing and relaxing different muscle groups in your body, starting at your feet and working your way up. By doing this, you can release physical tension and become more aware of how your body feels. Try clenching your toes for a few seconds, then releasing them. Move on to your calves, then your thighs, and so on. By the time you’ve relaxed your whole body, you’ll feel much more calm and centered.

These TIPP skills can be incredibly useful for managing anger (and other difficult emotions) and can help you feel more grounded and in control. However, there’s a catch. TIPP only lets you calm down temporarily, so it’s important to come back to process the anger in a healthy and productive way. Suppressing or ignoring your anger can lead to a buildup of negative emotions and resentment, which can impact your mental and physical health over time.

It’s important to remember that processing anger takes time and practice. Be patient with yourself and don’t expect to see immediate results. Seek support from a trusted friend, family member, or mental health professional if you need it. Remember, the goal is not to eliminate anger altogether, but to learn to manage it in a healthy and productive way.


Farchione, T. J., Fairholme, C. P., Ellard, K. K., Boisseau, C. L., Thompson-Hollands, J., Carl, J. R., … & Barlow, D. H. (2012). Unified Protocol for Transdiagnostic Treatment of Emotional Disorders: Client Workbook. Oxford University Press.

Linehan, M. M. (2015). DBT Skills Training Manual. Guilford Press.

Disclaimer: The advice provided in this blog post is meant to be informative and educational, and should not be taken as a substitute for professional psychotherapy or mental health treatment. It is important to seek the advice and guidance of a licensed mental health professional if you are experiencing severe or persistent symptoms of distress and/or anger.

If you are in crisis or need immediate support, please seek help from a qualified mental health professional or emergency services. Here are some resources that may be helpful.

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