Keeping your temper in check can be challenging. Use simple anger management tips — from taking a timeout to using "I" statements — to stay in control.
By Mayo Clinic Staff
Do you fume when someone cuts you off in traffic? Does your blood pressure rocket when your child refuses to cooperate? Anger is a normal and even healthy emotion — but it's important to deal with it in a positive way. Uncontrolled anger can take a toll on both your health and your relationships.
Ready to get your anger under control? Start by considering these 10 anger management tips.
In the heat of the moment, it's easy to say something you'll later regret. Take a few moments to collect your thoughts before saying anything — and allow others involved in the situation to do the same.
As soon as you're thinking clearly, express your frustration in an assertive but nonconfrontational way. State your concerns and needs clearly and directly, without hurting others or trying to control them.
Physical activity can help reduce stress that can cause you to become angry. If you feel your anger escalating, go for a brisk walk or run, or spend some time doing other enjoyable physical activities.
Timeouts aren't just for kids. Give yourself short breaks during times of the day that tend to be stressful. A few moments of quiet time might help you feel better prepared to handle what's ahead without getting irritated or angry.
Instead of focusing on what made you mad, work on resolving the issue at hand. Does your child's messy room drive you crazy? Close the door. Is your partner late for dinner every night? Schedule meals later in the evening — or agree to eat on your own a few times a week. Remind yourself that anger won't fix anything and might only make it worse.
To avoid criticizing or placing blame — which might only increase tension — use "I" statements to describe the problem. Be respectful and specific. For example, say, "I'm upset that you left the table without offering to help with the dishes" instead of "You never do any housework."
Forgiveness is a powerful tool. If you allow anger and other negative feelings to crowd out positive feelings, you might find yourself swallowed up by your own bitterness or sense of injustice. But if you can forgive someone who angered you, you might both learn from the situation and strengthen your relationship.
Lightening up can help diffuse tension. Use humor to help you face what's making you angry and, possibly, any unrealistic expectations you have for how things should go. Avoid sarcasm, though — it can hurt feelings and make things worse.
When your temper flares, put relaxation skills to work. Practice deep-breathing exercises, imagine a relaxing scene, or repeat a calming word or phrase, such as "Take it easy." You might also listen to music, write in a journal or do a few yoga poses — whatever it takes to encourage relaxation.
Learning to control anger is a challenge for everyone at times. Seek help for anger issues if your anger seems out of control, causes you to do things you regret or hurts those around you.
March 04, 2017
- Sood A. Relationships. In: The Mayo Clinic Handbook for Happiness: A 4-Step Plan for Resilient Living. Cambridge, Mass.: Da Capo Press/Lifelong Books; 2015.
- Pish S, et al. Anger management program participants gain behavioral changes in interpersonal relationships. Journal of Extension. 2016;55:e1. https://joe.org/joe/2016october/a3.php. Accessed Jan. 18, 2017.
- Mehta M, et al., eds. Anger management. In: A Practical Approach to Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for Adolescents. New Dehli, India: Springer India; 2015.
- Controlling anger before it controls you. American Psychological Association. http://www.apa.org/topics/anger/control.aspx. Accessed Jan. 18, 2017.
- Fabian P, et al. Does exercise reduce aggressive feelings? An experiment examining the influence of movement type and social task conditions on testiness and anger reduction. Perceptual and Motor Skills. 2016;122:971.
- McCullough M, et al. Conciliatory gestures promote forgiveness and reduce anger in humans. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2014;111:11211.