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Anger Management: 10 Ways to Control It, According to a Therapist

Katherine Cullen - Writer for Top10
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anger management man sitting at a desk in front of a computer
Dealing with anger can feel overwhelming. But as a therapist, I'm here to tell you that there are healthy and effective ways to manage and express it.

America's anger levels are on the rise, but tools like online therapy are available to help manage it. As of 2019, 42% of Americans reported feeling angrier in the past year compared to previous years.

So, if you or someone in your life struggles to handle challenges healthily, let's look at the top ways to master your emotions.

» “I Hate Everyone.” Why You Feel This Way, and How to Change.

1. Learn How to Recognize Triggers

Start anger management by identifying what makes you angry. Triggers like feelings of rejection and inadequacy can lead to sadness and defensive anger.

When working with highly irate clients, I advise them to explore the root causes of their feelings. This exploration can help them foster self-compassion instead of reacting defensively.

2. Center Yourself

Mindfully observing the present moment may feel challenging when you're in a highly volatile emotional state. But mindful awareness helps cool tempers, balance impulse control, and, as research suggests, spot habitual patterns to manage feelings like anger better.

I use the "5-4-3-2-1" exercise with clients to help refocus attention and ground them. This method requires you to name the following:

  • Five things you can see
  • Four things you can touch
  • Three things you can hear
  • Two things you can smell
  • One thing you can taste

3. Increase Your Distress Tolerance

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) offers distress tolerance skills that effectively manage anger. People often confront strong emotions and difficult situations daily. It's also essential to spot and accept situations you can't change.

For instance, a sudden increase in job workload might make you feel overwhelmed and angry. Distress tolerance techniques like emotion regulation can help you navigate these challenges and manage your anger more effectively. You can also communicate with your supervisor when you feel your workload is more than reasonable to handle.

4. Prioritize Sleep

Poor sleep can increase anger sensitivity. Luckily, cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) has been shown to help people potentially sleep better by identifying and changing negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

I find that some of my clients fall into thinking traps when they try to sleep, causing them to spiral for hours mentally. In these cases, I suggest doing some quick stretching and meditation exercises before bed.

5. Recognize Unhelpful Assumptions

When working with my clients, I often start by helping them identify their assumptions about other people's intentions. That's because identifying and challenging assumptions about other people's intentions can prevent anger-inducing misunderstandings.

It allows you to challenge ire-inducing misinterpretations like, "People are always one-upping me." Instead, you can substitute these assumptions with more productive theories, such as, "Maybe she's scowling because she's tired."

6. Move Your Body

Regular exercise can improve emotional regulation, and it's a stress-management tool that many of my clients swear by. In fact, adding near-daily exercise routines to my clients' treatment plans has helped many of them improve their anger control and stay mentally healthy.

So, if you find yourself getting worked up, maybe go for a quick walk to process your thoughts and emotions and remove yourself from the situation for a bit,

7. Channel Your Emotions Productively

An ideal anger management and prevention strategy is channeling the energy and motivation your anger gives you into something that benefits others. This is also a helpful way to handle stress.

An excellent example of this is volunteering at a local charity or organization. You'll contribute to a greater cause and gain a sense of fulfillment and purpose.

» Learn more about quick, easy, and free ways to boost your mental health.

8. Practice Opposite Action

When you're really worked up and want to yell at someone, one of the best things you can do is the exact opposite. For instance, instead of yelling, you can take a deep breath and try to calm yourself down.

Engaging in a peaceful conversation or finding a constructive outlet for your emotions can help diffuse the situation, and it'll help you maintain better relationships.

9. Address Your Trauma

Childhood trauma is often linked to adult anger, so intervention and therapy through a platform like BetterHelp can be essential for processing past experiences and handling anger.

I am always heartbroken at the amount of pain many of my anger management clients have endured. But I'm inspired by their bravery in facing their intolerable pasts with healthy communication skills to get a better handle on their present.

10. Know When to Seek Care

If your anger issues are rooted in underlying mental health conditions like bipolar disorder, seeking therapy or other appropriate care options is essential.

Contact online therapy services for bipolar disorder and other healthcare providers who can provide proper diagnoses. They can give you care options crucial to managing and treating your anger effectively.

Anger Management: Master Your Emotions

Self-help and seeking assistance for anger reduction are nothing to be ashamed of. In my psychotherapy practice, I've guided clients to develop self-control and effective coping strategies, enabling them to manage their temper better and enhance their quality of life.

If you want to follow their lead, consider contacting an anger-management counselor online on a cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) platform like OnlineTherapy.com.

» Unsure about what you need? Check out some of the clear signs you need therapy.

Katherine Cullen - Writer for Top10
Katherine Cullen is a psychotherapist in New York City and co-author of The Truth About Exercise Addiction: Understanding the Dark Side of Thinspiration. Her work has been published by numerous outlets, including Psychology Today, Cosmopolitan, and Self.

The author of this article has been paid by Natural Intelligence to write this article. Neither the author nor Natural Intelligence provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or your local emergency number immediately.