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Anger Management Techniques

Managing AngerAnger is a common reaction to many of the stressful experiences people have during everyday life. The stress of military life, such as the emotional toll of deployments and separations, can begin to affect your psychological health. If anger is affecting your daily life, it may be time to reach out for help. Not handling anger properly can negatively impact relationships with loved ones or colleagues, as well as your overall health by increasing your risk of a heart attack, stroke, hypertension, and more. Your health care provider can teach you how to manage anger, discuss how it affects you, and help you gain new skills to respond to it more practically.

Signs of Anger

You may not even realize that anger is affecting your life. Anger can become a concern when those feelings become too intense or too frequent, or when they cause you to act in hurtful or overly aggressive ways. If you find it hard to control your anger you may become frustrated easily and have a low tolerance for any daily setback, such as a traffic jam or lines at a grocery store. If you are expressing anger inappropriately, you might do so in obvious and physical ways. This can include:

  • Yelling a lot during conversations with those you care about or people you barely know
  • Having outbursts at home or work (like quick, loud speech, cursing, or throwing things)
  • Having a low tolerance for daily setbacks, like grocery store lines or traffic jams
  • Getting easily frustrated or feeling like you’re overreacting to minor unexpected events or what someone just said
  • Becoming physically aggressive toward others or in situations you wouldn’t have before
  • Getting physically violent toward yourself, others, or objects
  • Becoming physically ill (such as developing high blood pressure or heart palpitations)

You may also show signs of anger in less obvious ways that indicate you need help. These can include frequently feeling angry, withdrawing socially, or having difficulty letting go of thoughts about perceived insults and mistreatment.

Manage Your Anger in a Healthy Way

If your anger is interfering with your life, it is important to seek help. Providers can help you access resources to support healthy anger management, such as anger management classes. They may also suggest cognitive behavioral therapy. This type of therapy can help you improve control of your anger and reduce hostility, aggression, and depression. While working with a provider, try these simple tips on your own:

  • Talk to someone. Reach out to a friend or a non-medical counselor to help work through what's triggering your anger. Anger can sometimes be a signal that you might be avoiding a problem.
  • Relax. Breathe deeply through your diaphragm, repeat a positive, calming word or mantra, or try yoga.
  • Use humor. Silly or lighthearted humor can help reduce stress you may be feeling. Humor is a good way to cope, but don't dismiss your emotions.
  • Take a break. If you start to feel angry, leave the situation before you become overwhelmed. Take some time for yourself. Even 15 minutes to take a walk or stand outside quietly can be helpful.
  • Communicate effectively. Listen carefully to what others are saying and ask questions. Try not to jump to conclusions.

These skills and strategies may also be helpful in managing your anger:

  • Be respectfully assertive, not aggressive: People are far more likely to listen if you’re calm and act or speak in a respectful way versus coming on loudly, harshly, pushy, or unkindly. Express your needs so they have a chance of being met without hurting others.
  • Deep breathing: Breathe deeply by taking long, slow, deep breaths as you inhale and exhale. Also, yoga helps with breathing as well as potentially assisting our mind-body control and connection.
  • Self-talk: Slowly repeat a calm word or phrase to yourself such as “relax” or “take it easy.” Repeat the phrase to yourself while breathing deeply. Use a calming word or mantra that works for you.
  • Change your thoughts: Research shows that when we change our ways of thinking about ourselves or others, we are likely to start to feel better. Pay attention to the way you’re thinking about a situation. Is your thinking too limiting and getting you the same results that haven’t worked in the past? If so, it’s time for a thought change.
  • Emotion regulation: Be aware of how you’re feeling and where your anger may be coming from. That may sound easy or obvious, but it’s not. When you’re aware of what’s contributing to your angry feelings you are more likely to deal with your anger and your situation better and start to solve your problem.
  • Communication: Instead of steaming or feeling hopeless, it can be very helpful to talk your way through a situation when someone or something is contributing to your angry feelings .
  • Problem-solve: Try to be flexible about the situation and figure out alternative ways to deal with it.
  • Triggers: Remove yourself from highly stressful situations and re-group. Don’t avoid these situations, but recognize you may need to exit these situations to calm down first, before you can think straight to solve your problem.
  • Do I need counseling? Ask yourself ’Does this happen a lot or too often? Are my angry behaviors destructive to myself or others? Are others commenting? Is it too intense or too distressing for you and others? Has it been going on for a long time?’

If you are feeling distressed as the result of military service or other life stress, know that reaching out is a sign of strength. If you or a loved one needs additional support, contact the Psychological Health Resource Center 24/7 to confidentially speak with trained health resource consultants. Call 866-966-1020 or use the Live Chat. You can also see a list of key psychological health resources below.

Additional Resources:


  • American Psychological Association (2022). Control anger before it controls you.
  • Arjmand, H. A., Forbes, D., Varker, T., O'Donnell, M. L., Finlayson-Short, L., & Metcalf, O. (2023). Understanding the temporal dynamics of problem anger using sequence analysis. Emotion, 23(8), 2322–2330.
  • Cowlishaw, S., Metcalf, O., Little, J., Hinton, M., Forbes, D., Varker, T., Agathos, J., Bryant, R. A., McFarlane, A. C., Hopwood, M., Phelps, A. J., Howard, A., Cooper, J., Dell, L., & O'Donnell, M. L. (2022). Cross-lagged analyses of anger and PTSD symptoms among veterans in treatment. Psychological trauma: theory, research, practice, and policy, 14(2), 336–345.
  • Dillon, K. H., Hertzberg, J. A., Mosher, T. M., Levi, R. D., Elbogen, E. B., Calhoun, P. S., Morland, L. A., & Beckham, J. C. (2023). Development and refinement of the mobile anger reduction intervention for veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder. Psychological trauma: theory, research, practice, and policy, 10.1037/tra0001491. Advance online publication.
  • Gould, C. E., Kok, B. C., Ma, V. K., Zapata, A. M. L., Owen, J. E., & Kuhn, E. (2019). Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense mental health apps: A systematic literature review. Psychological services, 16(2), 196–207.
  • Lench, H. C., Reed, N. T., George, T., Kaiser, K. A., & North, S. G. (2023). Anger has benefits for attaining goals. Journal of personality and social psychology, 10.1037/pspa0000350. Advance online publication.
  • Wagner, H. R., Lanier, M., Molloy, K., Van Male, L., Mid-Atlantic Mental Illness Research Education and Clinical Center Workgroup, & Elbogen, E. B. (2023). Anger and suicidality in veterans: Impact of postseparation time and combat. Psychological trauma: theory, research, practice, and policy, 10.1037/tra0001599. Advance online publication.
Updated May, 2024
Last Updated: July 02, 2024
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