Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Women's Health

Font Size

How to Handle Anger

Effective anger management techniques help you express anger -- which is good for you -- in a good way.

WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Gary D. Vogin, MD

Even though expressing your anger can be good for you, flying into a rage at every suspected slight isn't the answer. For instance, blowing off steam by hurling hardware at your hubby or breaking plates over the boss's head aren't great solutions. But it is possible -- even desirable -- to use anger in a positive rather than negative way.

Forget the pop notion of channeling anger into more productive pursuits. "Relationship enhancement is the most productive outlet possible for anger," says Deborah Cox, PhD, a psychologist at Southwest Missouri State University in Springfield -- and this can happen when you let the other person see you're upset. So what concrete tips might help when you're mad as hell and not going to take it any more? Read on.

Recommended Related to Women

Are You Prepared for the Worst?

By Nathaniel Benforado Disasters happen. Here's how to safeguard your home -- today.   Fire, flood, robbery -- you can lose everything in an instant, and then how do you get it all back? The first essential is homeowner's insurance. The other must-have is less obvious: a home inventory that documents all your possessions. This information will help you determine whether you have enough insurance coverage. In the event of a disaster, it'll allow you to file claims faster and more...

Read the Are You Prepared for the Worst? article > >

  • Seek out a safe place to seethe. Before confronting the object of your wrath, talk with a trusted friend, co-worker, or counselor who can help get to the root of what's pressing your buttons. Mulling it over with someone safe may help you figure out less hostile, more instructive ways to express your feelings with a loved one, colleague, or boss.

  • Approach the person who sent your blood boiling in the first place. As a general guideline, the more significant the relationship, the more important it is to articulate feelings in a constructive way, says Dana Crowley Jack, EdD, a psychologist at Fairhaven College at Western Washington University in Bellingham. She suggests trying something like, "This is bothering me. Something has to change. How can we deal with it?"

  • Identify the reason behind the rage. There's always something underlying an angry reaction. The trick here is to find the trigger. If it's not obvious, keeping a log of anger experiences may help you uncover patterns. For some people, professional help may be needed to delve through deep-rooted feelings of shame and anger that started in childhood.

  • Find a physical release. Though jogging and other physical activities can be helpful, Cox advocates an anger workout: hitting a mattress with a tennis racket or slapping the sofa with a bat when you really start to see red. The key, says Cox, is to talk as you thwack the furniture. Engaging large muscle groups along with your voice should help you work through some of your fury. Kickboxing or Tae-Bo may give the same results. You'll feel less likely to lose it if you have a physical release first, explains Cox. "When a client tells me: 'If I really let it out, we'd all burst into flames,' then I might suggest an anger workout," she says.

  • Take several deep breaths. If you find yourself blinded by heat-of-the-moment anger, try to buy some time to cool off a bit, especially if you think you're at risk of harming someone physically or emotionally. You may even need to walk away from the situation for a while. Remember, though, that in the long run, fleeing the scene won't help you express yourself. So ask for a few moments to collect your thoughts and then say what needs to be said.

  • Look for like-minded souls. All fired up about a societal injustice? Sick of suffering? Then hook up with people who share your passion or problem through a support group or organization. Consider working with an organization for change, like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). "Joining other people who care about what you do can transform anger into a positive expression," says Jack.

Reviewed on February 14, 2003

Today on WebMD

hands on abdomen
Test your knowledge.
womans hand on abdomen
Are you ready for baby?
 
birth control pills
Learn about your options.
insomnia
Is it menopause or something else?
 
Couple with troubles
Article
Bone density illustration
VIDEO
 
Young woman being vaccinated
Slideshow
woman holding hand to ear
Slideshow
 

Send yourself a link to download the app.

Loading ...

Please wait...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Blood pressure check
Slideshow
mother and daughter talking
Evaluator
 
intimate couple
Article
puppy eating
Slideshow