Do you or someone you know anger easily? Are you prone to explosive outbursts, yelling, screaming, and losing control of your temper? If so, these symptoms can indicate toxic levels of hostility. Anger can sabotage relationships, cause job failures, and kill people. Angry people are also more likely to suffer from certain physical illnesses. Condescension, verbal aggression, criticism, contempt, and sarcasm are more subtle forms of anger, but they can also damage relationships and ruin careers.
Take this quick anger quiz by answering True or False to the following:
- I am often irritable and cranky.
- I am on guard to keep others from taking advantage of me.
- I have angry outbursts.
- I have been neglecting previously enjoyable activities.
- I frequently argue with family.
- I often feel stressed and pressured, or in a rush.
- I often feel unfairly treated or disrespected.
- I think a lot about how to retaliate when I have been criticized.
- It’s hard for me to wait in my car while students are crossing the street and not paying attention to traffic.
- People avoid me at work or at home.
- Sometimes I have been so angry I have wanted to hit someone.
- When I am not fighting with my partner or family member, I am fighting with someone at work.
- When someone cuts me off in traffic, I am enraged.
If you answered True to three or more of these statements, you may benefit from talking to someone about learning to manage your anger.
Anger Management Tips
Ready to get your anger under control? Start by considering these 10 anger management tips.
1. Think before you speak.
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.
2. Once you are calm, express your anger.
Once you are calm, express your frustration in an assertive but non-confrontational way. State your concerns and needs clearly and directly, without hurting others or trying to control them.
3. Get some exercise.
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.
4. Take a time-out.
Time-outs 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.
5. Identify possible solutions.
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 make things worse.
6. Stick with ”I” statements.
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."
7. Don't hold a grudge.
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.
8. Use humor to release tension.
Lightening up can help diffuse tension. Use humor to help you face what's making you angry and, possibly, face any unrealistic expectations you have for how things should go. Avoid sarcasm — it can hurt feelings and make things worse.
9. Practice relaxation skills.
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.
10. Know when to seek help.
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.