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Dealing with Anger: A Toolkit

Anger can be a useful emotion because it tells us when something is unfair or unjust.

We’re often told to hide our anger or to squash it down, but no emotion is a bad one, and we can’t turn them off.

Instead, we should see anger as motivation to try and address the unfairness we’re experiencing – but we need to do it in a productive way. So how do we deal with anger?

Although we all experience anger differently, it tends to follow the same general path. We start off calm, but then something triggers a feeling of anger in us and we become bothered. If we aren’t able to deal with that, it can escalate to anger and eventually can result in a pretty dramatic eruption.

So, to avoid an eruption, here’s how you can reprogramme your anger into something positive.

angry teenager, sitting on a dock, how to deal with anger

Reprogramming Your Anger

1. Recognise your trigger and how you’re feeling

Ask yourself questions

  • Am I angry or is it a different feeling?
  • What has caused it?

Then check your body for

  • Increased heart rate
  • Sweaty palms
  • Hot face
  • Clenched jaw

Check your mind for

  • Irritation
  • Erratic thoughts
  • Clouded thinking

Then check your behaviour

  • Are you acting as you would if you were calm?

2. Pause the escalation for a moment so you can reassess

  • Control your breathing 
  • Count to ten
  • Go for a walk
  • Put it in perspective: “will this matter tomorrow? next week? next year?”
angry cat, ditch the label

Want to find out more about why we get angry? Read this.

3. Change course by reacting to the problem in a different way

Slow it down

Give yourself and the other person time to explain your views. Pause the conversation if you need to.

Write it as a letter

Write a letter or email explaining how you feel

Focus on ‘I’

Change it from ‘you’ focused to ‘I’ focused. Instead of ‘You don’t care about me’, say ‘I miss spending time with you’

Let it go

Accept that sometimes things won’t change

4. Channel your excess energy into something that benefits you

  • Exercise
  • Write a journal
  • Get creative
  • Sing
  • Dance
  • Draw
  • Take it out on a cushion
  • Write a letter to your MP
  • Organise an assembly at school
  • Campaign for change
  • Run a fundraiser

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