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How to control anger: tips from an online psychologist

In the modern world, where irritating situations occur quite often, many people who do not want to get into trouble because of inner aggression wonder how to control anger, rage, and simply keep themselves in check when stress is constantly escalating and nerves are already on edge.

After all, uncontrolled negative emotions can lead to conflicts at work, in the family, and also negatively affect physical and mental health. Therefore, every adult needs to know how to control anger in order to cope with stress and improve the quality of their life.

In this article, I’ll explain what anger is, why it can be a problem, and offer various strategies and exercises to help you stay calm. We’ll also discuss how to prevent anger from building up and how to deal with people when you’re on edge.

how to control anger

What is anger and why does it need to be controlled?

Anger is a natural emotion that can arise in response to various stressful situations and cause feelings of rage, irritation or dissatisfaction. However, if anger is not controlled, it can become a serious problem for health and relationships with others.

Incorrectly expressed anger can lead to conflicts, violence, or damaged relationships with loved ones and colleagues. In addition, frequent outbursts of anger worsen physical and mental health as they increase stress and adrenaline levels in the body.

To avoid these problems, you need to learn to control your anger. This includes understanding your emotions, proper breathing and other relaxation techniques, as well as using constructive communication strategies and developing empathy.

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Biological reasons for anger

Anger is a natural sensation that arises in response to specific stimuli. Emotional reactions, including anger, are driven by a complex interaction between the brain and the body. Below are some biological reasons for the occurrence of anger:

  • Stress response. Anger can arise in response to stressful situations, such as threats, dangers, or nervous tension. In such cases, the brain frantically seeks an answer to the question “Fight or flight?” which can trigger aggression.
  • Response to potential harm. Anger often emerges in response to potential harm that could damage your body. This is a common defensive reaction in the style of “attack.”
  • Evolutionary defense mechanism. Anger is an evolutionarily conditioned defense mechanism that helps survive in situations when the organism is in danger.
  • Brain dysfunction. Sometimes anger arises due to disruptions in brain function, such as head injuries, certain diseases, or the intake of certain medications.

Overall, anger is a complex feeling primarily conditioned by biological, psychological, and social factors.

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Physiology of anger

The physiology of anger involves the activation of the nervous system and the release of certain chemicals in the body.

When anger occurs, the sympathetic nervous system is activated, leading to an increase in the release of adrenaline and norepinephrine. These substances increase blood pressure, speed up heart rate and breathing, and increase blood sugar levels.

As a result of activation of the sympathetic nervous system, a powerful mobilization of resources occurs in the body, which allows you to quickly respond to danger.

Anger is also associated with the release of cortisol, a stress hormone that increases blood glucose levels and suppresses immune system function.

With prolonged and frequent expression of expressive negative emotions, the risk of developing various diseases associated with high levels of stress and prolonged activation of the sympathetic nervous system increases. In addition, constant aggression can cause painful symptoms such as headaches, muscle tension and stomach soreness.

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The difference between constructive and destructive anger

Constructive and destructive anger represent different approaches to expressing this emotion.

  • Constructive anger involves expressing anger in a constructive manner that contributes to problem-solving and does not harm others. It allows for the expression of feelings while maintaining respect for others. An example of constructive anger could be clear and appropriate expression of emotions, engaging in constructive discussions, seeking compromise, and attempting to resolve conflicts.
  • Destructive anger, on the other hand, is a negative approach to expressing anger that can harm others, the environment, or oneself. It manifests as aggression, violence, humiliation, insults, rage, etc. Often, destructive anger is driven by a lack of control over one’s behavior and is expressed through extremely negative actions.

The main difference between constructive and destructive anger lies in the fact that the former is aimed at problem-solving and maintaining respect for others, while the latter leads to violence, aggression, and insults, and does not help in resolving conflicts.

Overall, constructive anger is considered a healthier and more effective way of managing emotions than destructive anger. Therefore, it is important to develop skills for constructively expressing feelings and to avoid destructive emotional expressions.

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Why control negative emotions?

Controlling negative emotions, including anger, is an important aspect of mental health and well-being. Uncontrolled negative emotions amplify stress, which in turn can lead to a range of physical and psychological problems. For example, prolonged feelings of anger often increase blood pressure, worsen heart problems, trigger insomnia, anxiety, and depression.

Moreover, anger adversely affects relationships with others. Unbridled bursts of negative feelings often lead to conflicts, ruptured relationships, and even violence.

Therefore, the ability to control anger is an important aspect of caring for one’s health and well-being, as well as maintaining harmony in relationships.

The ability to control escalating irritation helps manage emotions and react more adequately to various situations, which promotes effective communication with others and problem-solving.

Additionally, controlling negative emotions boosts self-confidence. Understanding how to control anger makes you feel more confident and calm in various situations, making more conscious decisions and effectively dealing with various tasks.

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The most common causes of anger

There are numerous reasons that can trigger anger. Here are the most common triggers:

  1. Criticism or insults. When someone criticizes or insults you, it can provoke anger. To avoid this, try not to engage in confrontation and remain calm. Try to see criticism as an opportunity for self-improvement.
  2. Feeling of injustice. When you feel unfairly judged, it can also lead to aggressive behavior. To avoid this, try to look at the situation from the perspective of others and understand the reasons behind their behavior.
  3. Violation of boundaries. When someone crosses your boundaries or doesn’t respect you as an individual, it can trigger outbursts of rage. To prevent this, don’t hesitate to clearly define your boundaries and expectations, and make sure they are understood by others.
  4. Disrespect. When you are disrespected or ignored, it can provoke a strong reaction. To be treated with respect, try to communicate respectfully with others and learn to listen to their point of view.
  5. Stress. Prolonged stress causes irritability. Find ways to relax and cope with your negative emotions. Practice meditation, yoga, or engage in physical activity.
  6. Lack of control. Inability to control a situation often leads to aggressive nervousness. To overcome the obsessive desire to control everything around you, seek help from a psychologist.

In general, to avoid triggers that may cause anger, it’s important to learn to manage your emotions and communication skills, as well as develop empathy and understanding of others.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Communicate with everyone with respect and kindness. Try to understand other people’s perspectives, even if they differ from yours.
  • Be aware of which situations trigger your aggression and how you react to them. This will help you understand how to control anger by developing strategies for managing emotions.
  • Avoid conflicts if possible. For example, if you know that discussing a certain topic can ignite you, try to avoid an unpleasant conversation.
  • Learn anger management techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, physical activity, etc. Choose the ones that work for you and use them in situations where you feel angry.
  • Apply effective communication skills, including active listening, clear expression of thoughts and feelings, and setting personal boundaries.
  • Avoid alcohol or drugs if possible, as they can amplify anger outbursts.

Again, if you are experiencing serious problems with anger management and cannot cope with them on your own, I recommend seeking help from a psychologist or therapist.

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How to Control Anger: General Strategies and Exercises

Anger control is the process of managing one’s emotions to prevent destructive behavior.

Want to learn how to control anger and aggression? Here are 8 strategies to help you:

  1. Relaxation and breathing exercises. Meditation, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and other relaxation methods reduce the level of aggression and tension.
  2. Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps eliminate negative thoughts and beliefs that can provoke anger, and teaches how to replace destructive reactions with constructive ones.
  3. Expression of emotions. Some people find it helpful to express their feelings through art, music, sports, or other creative activities.
  4. Planning and anticipating situations that may trigger anger allows you to prepare for an emotional outburst and reduce the intensity of emotions.
  5. Communication and listening. Good communication and the ability to listen to others reduce the level of conflicts and help solve most problems.
  6. Increasing physical activity. Regular physical activity helps control emotions and reduce irritability.
  7. Regular rest contributes to recovery and reduces stress levels, which often lead to uncontrolled aggression.
  8. Professional help. If you don’t know how to control anger and can’t cope with your impulsive behavior, it’s helpful to seek assistance from an online psychologist who can help you understand the problem and develop strategies for controlling negative emotions.

Here are some specific exercises that can help control anger:

  • Breathing exercises. Focus on your breath, take several deep inhales and exhales, allowing your body to relax.
  • Progressive muscle relaxation. Tense and relax each muscle group one by one, starting from the muscles in your legs and moving up to the upper body. This exercise helps reduce internal tension.
  • Counting to 10. If you feel your anger escalating, try counting to 10 before saying or doing anything. This can help cool down emotions and think more clearly.
  • Written expression of anger. To acknowledge your feelings and express them non-confrontationally, write down everything that comes to mind when anger arises towards someone.
  • Visualization. Close your eyes and imagine a peaceful place, such as a beach or forest. Focus on the sensations you feel in this location, such as smells, sounds, and the warmth of the sun. This exercise helps relax.
  • Increasing the interval between action and reaction. If you tend to react too quickly to situations, try delaying your reaction for a few seconds. This allows you to avoid an emotional outburst and think about the best course of action.

It’s important to note that everyone is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. Therefore, to learn how to control anger, it’s important to experiment with different control strategies.

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Correct communication when angry

When you feel angry, it is very important not to let your emotions control you and not to react to others too harshly or aggressively. Instead, try these communication tips:

  1. Breathe deeply and slowly to calm down and regain composure.
  2. Try to express your feelings without blaming others. For example, say “I feel very upset” instead of “You always annoy me.”
  3. Aim to be specific about what bothers you and offer constructive solutions rather than just complaining.
  4. Listen carefully to what others are saying and try to understand their perspective before expressing your own.
  5. If you feel unable to stay calm, suggest postponing the conversation to a time when you feel more balanced.
  6. Remember that a constructive conflict resolution is the best outcome, so focus on that during communication.
  7. Use “I-messages” to convey your thoughts and feelings, for example: “I feel hurt when you do this.”
  8. Avoid accusations and insults as they can escalate the situation and lead to larger conflicts.
  9. Encourage others to express their point of view and listen to it attentively, even if you disagree.
  10. Summarize the discussion at the end and ask all participants to confirm their understanding and agreement with the final decision. This will help ensure that everyone is clear and agrees with the final decision.

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How to control anger towards a child?

When a child triggers anger in us, it’s challenging to remain calm and not react negatively. However, controlling destructive emotions when communicating or parenting a child is crucial because a harsh reaction from an adult can harm the child’s psychological well-being and worsen the relationship between children and parents.

Here are some tips to help control anger towards a child:

  • Pause for a moment and think. Before reacting, for example, to your son’s or daughter’s misbehavior, try to gather yourself and calm down. Think about what’s happening and how to express your feelings appropriately to avoid hurting the child.
  • Maintain a calm tone of voice. A loud, irritated, or shouting voice will only evoke fear and negative emotions in the child. Try to speak calmly but confidently, showing that you can address the issue without anger and aggression.
  • Try to put yourself in the child’s shoes. Ask the child to explain their point of view, and try to understand what is bothering them. Respecting the child’s opinion can help strengthen the relationship between you.
  • Maintain an emotional connection with the child. Show that you care about them and are willing to support them emotionally. Offer to talk and listen to the child, even if you disagree with them.
  • Use effective discipline methods. Sometimes, a child may make mistakes or break rules. However, it’s essential to use parenting methods that won’t evoke negative emotions or lower the child’s self-esteem.

Remember that a calm and constructive approach to communicating with children will help achieve the best results in any situation.

If you feel like you’re losing control of your anger, it’s essential to stop and take time for self-regulation to avoid harming the child. Here are some additional tips:

  1. Take deep and slow breaths. This will help you calm down and reduce stress levels.
  2. Find a way to release tension. Simply stepping out of the room for a couple of minutes can help.
  3. Ask for help. If you feel like you can’t control your anger, ask someone else to look after the child.
  4. Learn to recognize your anger triggers. If you know what triggers your anger, you can try to prevent its onset.

It’s important to understand that no parent can always remain calm and collected. However, it’s crucial to learn to control your anger to avoid harming your children.

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How to control teenage aggression?

Controlling teenage aggression is a complex but achievable task. Here are some tips for parents to deal with this issue:

  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle in the family. Physical activity and healthy eating will reduce stress levels and lift the mood.
  • Set boundaries and rules. Teenagers need to know what actions are acceptable and which are not. It’s important for the rules to be clear, consistent, and fair.
  • Communicate with the teenager. Make an effort to find time to discuss their problems and concerns. Listen attentively and respect their opinion.
  • Teach the teenager anger management skills. Teach them techniques such as breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, and other ways to manage emotions.
  • Teach conflict resolution peacefully. Explain that conflicts are not always resolved through aggression; there are other ways to settle conflict situations.
  • Encourage positive activities for the teenager. Engaging in sports, arts, music, and other hobbies helps distract teenagers from negative emotions.

If a teenager’s aggression becomes a serious problem, seek professional help. Psychologists and therapists can help teenagers develop skills to manage their anger and aggression.

Controlling teenage aggression may be a challenging task, but with support and understanding from adults, teenagers can learn to manage their emotions and behavior.


Anger control is an important skill that significantly improves the quality of life. The inability to control your emotions often leads to serious consequences for your health and relationships with other people.

Lack of anger control causes increased levels of stress, anxiety and depression. In addition, this can cause rash actions and behavior that will have negative consequences both for yourself and for loved ones.

On the other hand, the ability to control anger improves physical and emotional health, allows you to understand your emotions and gives you greater self-confidence.

Managing anger can also have a positive effect on our professional development and career. The ability to control your anger makes it possible to better manage your behavior and emotions at work, which contributes to work efficiency and improved relationships with colleagues.

In addition, controlling internal negativity is especially important in interpersonal relationships, including relationships in marriage, with friends and relatives. The ability to control your anger helps you better express your emotions, respect other people’s points of view, and reduce the likelihood of domestic and work conflicts.

Thus, anger management can be a key skill that helps us overcome various challenges in life and achieve greater success and satisfaction.

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Interesting scientific studies on anger

The study of anger is one of the important areas of psychology research. Here are some interesting experiments, by whom and when they were carried out and their results:

  1. “Points of View of Anger.” In this study, researchers analyzed more than 200 popular psychology books and, based on them, created a model of anger that included three main components: physiological reactions, cognitive processes and behavioral reactions. This model helped to better understand the origins of anger and showed that it is a complex and multidimensional phenomenon. (Novaco, R. W. (1975). Anger Control: The Development and Evaluation of an Experimental Treatment. Lexington, MA: Health.)
  2. “Emotional Regulation and Decision Making During Anger.” According to the results of this study, it was found that emotional regulation and decision-making ability influence how people respond to anger. Those who have low levels of emotional regulation are more likely to express anger, while people who are able to regulate their emotions can manage their anger. (Potegal, M., Stemmler, R., & Spielberger, H. (2000). Emotional Regulation and Decision Making Under Stress: The University of Illinois at Chicago.)
  3. “The influence of anger on time perception.” This study showed that anger can change the perception of time. People who are angry often believe that time is moving slower, which explains why many people experience time slowing down during conflict situations. (Lerner, J. S., & Keltner, D. (2000). Beyond valence: Toward a model of emotion-specific influences on judgement and choice. Cognition and Emotion.)
  4. “Expressive Writing and Anger.” This study proved that writing expressive letters about your anger helps you cope with negative emotions. The experiment found that people who were able to express their emotions in writing experienced greater relief and relieved stress faster than those who tried to suppress their feelings. (Pennebaker, J. W., & Beall, R. J. (1986). Confronting a traumatic event: Toward an understanding of inhibition and disease. Journal of Abnormal Psychology.)

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