Anger Management

Thanks to the McKinley Health Center for providing permission to adapt and reprint this article from the McKinley Health Center website. View more helpful articles from McKinley.

Anger is a normal emotion. It is common for people to experience anger in everyday life. When anger is expressed in a controlled manner, it is healthy for a person to communicate their feelings. When anger takes over and a person loses control, anger may be expressed in a negative and hurtful manner. It is important to watch for signs of uncontrolled anger and learn to manage this anger so that your feelings are communicated in a healthy, appropriate way.

Signs of Anger

  • You say or do things when you get mad that you later feel bad about.
  • You hang on to your anger for a long time—you won't or don't let go of it.
  • You hit, shove, slap, pinch or threaten when you get angry.
  • It feels like you're almost always angry about something.
  • Sometimes you can't stop arguing even when you want to.
  • Your anger is "all or nothing." You're either furious or calm; you're never just a little angry.
  • You always have to get the last word and win every battle.
  • You've been suspended from school, lost jobs, have been arrested, or gotten kicked out of your house because of your anger.
  • You often hate yourself and do things to hurt yourself.
  • You believe other people are the cause of most of your problems.

Rate and Record

When you begin to feel anger building, rate your level of anger from one to ten. Your anger will be more or less intense in different situations. Your own thoughts and perceptions of a situation can cause Level 2 anger to increase to Level 10. Take note and record the instance so you understand that you have different levels of anger at different times of the day.

Preventing Your Anger

  • Change your environment.
  • Schedule time for yourself when you know you will be encountering stressful situations. Remove yourself from a situation so you can have the time to think about what you are really upset about.
  • Find alternatives to your daily routine that are more soothing. Breaks throughout the day can help you stay focused and relaxed.

Cognitive Restructuring—Change the Way You Think

  • Have a positive outlook. Remember that it is not the end of the world and that getting angry is not going to fix the problem. Utilize "positive self-talk" to restructure how you are thinking about the problem.
  • Remember that getting angry escalates the situation and heightens emotions. Logic can overcome anger. Give yourself time to think through the best solution to the problem, rather than just reacting.

Improve Your Communication Skills

  • Don't let your anger build. Slow down and rethink the first things that come to mind when a heated discussion takes place. Your choice of words is very important.
  • Attack the problem not the person. Listen carefully to what they have to say and try not to argue.
  • Take a few moments and decide the best course of action. Be patient with the other person and avoid putdowns. Compromise may be an option and lead to an amicable resolution.
  • Respect each other and recognize when to quit. When it is over, let it be over.

Managing Your Anger

  • Use simple relaxation techniques to calm yourself if you feel your anger might get out of control.
    • Take slow, deep diaphragmatic breaths. These will help slow down your body's reaction and help you relax.
    • Use imagery to relax and escape. Use your memory or your imagination to visualize a relaxing experience.
  • Try exercising or engaging in non-strenuous exercise like yoga.
  • Focus on finding a solution(s) to the problem. Avoid taking your anger out on someone. Place that energy into developing a plan that will resolve the situation and put it into action.
  • Use humor to dissolve some of your pent up feelings. Reducing your rage through humor can bring a more calm and settling atmosphere and help you attain a more balanced perspective.


For professional assistance and direction, please refer to these resources located at the Urbana-Champaign campus:

Faculty/Staff Assistance Services
1011 W. University Ave.
Urbana, IL 61801
(217) 244-5312.

If you are concerned about any difference in your treatment plan and the information in this handout, you are advised to contact your health care provider.

Source: McKinley Health Center website