Everyone feels angry sometimes. Anger can be a good thing because it allows us to express negative emotions. It's what we do when we're angry that can cause problems.
What is anger?
Anger is a normal human emotion. It can range from feeling annoyed to intense rage. It makes your heart rate and blood pressure go up as your body produces more of the hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline.
Everyone feels angry from time to time. But it’s how you show your anger that matters. If you don’t control your anger, it can lead to violence or angry behaviour like yelling, throwing things or storming out.
It’s not okay to express anger in ways that can hurt you or other people or objects.
Managing your anger
If you think you have problems managing your anger, it may help to ask yourself these questions:
- Do you sometimes have trouble controlling your behaviour when you’re angry?
- Have you ever been angry and later regretted what you did?
- Have you ever become violent or abusive when you’ve been angry?
- Has anyone commented to you about your behaviour when you’re angry?
If you have answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, you might like to consider talking to someone about how to manage your anger better.
Can anger be controlled?
You can control anger by recognising the physical signs. If you notice you are getting angry, you can learn ways to calm yourself down before it gets out of control. Signs you are getting angry may include:
- your muscles feel tight, especially the muscles in your jaw or arms
- you feel increased pressure in your head — like it ‘might explode’
- your face feels flushed
- you have an increased heart rate, heavy breathing and sweating
Tips for managing your anger
If you feel yourself getting angry, there are techniques you can try to stop yourself becoming violent or abusive. If you practise these techniques — perhaps with a friend — you’ll be able to use them when you’re losing control.
List things that make you angry
If you know the things that frustrate you and make you angry, you may be able to avoid them or do things differently when you’re faced with them.
‘Time out’ means stepping away from a situation and giving yourself space. It may help to say ‘I need to take a break — I’ll come back in half an hour’.
Try taking five long, deep breaths and slowing your breathing. While you’re breathing, try to relax the muscles in your arms and face.
Talk yourself down
Telling yourself you can handle the situation can help calm you down.
You might try saying things like ‘okay, you can handle this’ or ‘I’m not going to let this get to me’. Or you might try words like ‘relax’ or ‘take it easy’ while you breathe deeply.
Try to avoid negative statements that might make you feel angrier, such as ‘she’s always doing that’ or ‘how dare he!’.
Picturing yourself in a relaxing situation may help. Use what you feel is relaxing — it may be swimming or lying on a beach, sitting on a mountain top, or reading to your children.
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Last reviewed: August 2019