How to cope with feeling angry

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Occasionally feeling angry can be healthy, but always feeling angry can have negative consequences.

Understanding what makes you angry, becoming aware of how you deal with anger, and learning how to express your anger positively may help you avoid frustration and sadness.

Anger is an important emotion. It can help you express your feelings and address issues. Anger also:

  • tells you that your needs (or someone else’s needs) aren’t being met
  • tells you that you may have been treated (or may have treated someone else) unfairly or disrespectfully
  • is a cue that something needs to be done to mend hurt feelings

Anger can also have unwanted or destructive results. If you aren’t careful about how you express your anger, you may risk damaging a friendship or a relationship that you care about. It’s important to know the difference between feeling angry from time to time and feeling angry all of the time. Feeling angry sometimes is common and healthy, but feeling angry all of the time can be a sign other things, like loneliness or depression.

What you need to know about anger

Here are some important facts about anger to be aware of:

  • it’s healthy to say what makes you angry
  • bottled up anger can become explosive and affect important relationships
  • it’s OK to feel angry as long as you don’t hurt others, yourself or property
  • violent anger is never OK

How to tell what makes you angry

Here are a few things you can do to help you understand why you feel angry:

  • write down a list of things and situations that make you feel angry
  • write down a list of cues your body gives you that indicate you’re getting angry, so you can recognize the signs

How to deal with anger

These questions can help you become aware of how you deal with your anger:

  • Do you react emotionally (usually in quick outbursts) and say things that get you into trouble and/or that you regret?
  • Do you stay quiet in the moment, but plot revenge afterward?
  • Do you get angry with the wrong person because you’re afraid to confront the person you’re actually angry with?
  • Do you keep your feelings inside because you feel uncomfortable expressing your anger?
  • Do you keep your feelings inside because you’re afraid that if you do get angry, you won’t be able to control what you say and/or do?
  • Do you express your feelings and your needs?
  • Do you stand up for yourself (or others) when you feel like a situation is unfair?

How to release anger in a positive way

Finding a way to cool off when you’re angry is important. Different things will work for different people, so try a few options to find what works for you:

  • go for a walk or run to let off steam
  • write out how you’re feeling in a letter — you don’t have to send it unless you want to
  • listen to your favourite music
  • find a quiet place to take a break
  • express your feelings through art

Dealing with anger can be very challenging — talking to a safe adult about your feelings can help.