Recognise your triggers for anger management

Anger management is a course of treatment that helps people learn to control their anger. It can
be done with the help of a counselor or psychologist.

Many of us have “anger triggers”—things that set off our angry reactions. Often, these are small
irritations that build up until we feel like we’ve reached our final straw, and explode.

  1. Take a time-out

Taking time-out is one of the most effective tools for anger management. It involves politely
expressing the need for a break and physically stepping away from the situation to calm down
before rejoining a discussion.

Some people have a short fuse, and it may be difficult for them to recognise when they’re
becoming angry. But it’s possible to lengthen your fuse by learning how to spot angry triggers
and practice strategies to help you cope with them.

You can’t eliminate anger entirely—life is full of frustration, pain, and unpredictability. But you
can learn to control your angry responses and use them to improve situations instead of making
things worse. (Avoid sarcastic humour: that’s not helpful.) With therapy, psychologists say, even
a hyper person can move closer to the middle range of anger with practice.

2. Think about something else for 100 seconds

Practicing relaxation techniques can help you pause and control your reaction before speaking or
acting. You may work with your therapist to discover what works best for you – meditation,
breathing exercises or yoga are some examples – and practice outside of your sessions.

You can also learn to recognize the warning signs that you are becoming angry (pulse racing,
flushing face, clenching jaw). Once you notice that your fuse is burning low, think about how
your behavior will impact others in your life.

Realise that your anger has less to do with the events around you and more to do with how you
interpret them. You can also change the way you react to challenging situations by shifting your
focus from problem-solving to problem-avoiding.

3. Walk away from the situation

If you can’t talk about something without getting mad, walking away from the situation can help.
Taking a walk can also distract you from your thoughts and feelings so that you can calm down
and think about how to respond.

Identify your triggers and what makes you angry. For example, if your child’s messy room or
your partner coming home late makes you lose your temper, consider how to change these
situations so they don’t bother you as much.

If anger issues interfere with your daily life, seek professional help. A mental health therapist can
teach you techniques for changing your thinking and behaviour. For instance, cognitive-
behavioural therapy can help you recognise and change negative thought patterns that cause you
to react with anger.

4. Talk to a trusted adult

Anger management therapists teach you how to recognise the root of your anger and
communicate it in healthy ways. They might use relaxation techniques like meditation, breathing
exercises or yoga. They might also use techniques for letting go of an issue instead of rehashing
it over and over again (rumination).

If you know someone with anger issues, help them to find the right kind of therapy. Encourage
them to speak to a trusted adult or join ReachOut’s online community of young people who
understand what they’re going through.

Anger is normal but it can get out of hand. Chronic anger can hurt relationships and even cause
physical health problems. Mental health professionals can evaluate a person’s symptoms and
determine whether co-occurring mental illnesses like trauma, depression or anxiety are
contributing to their poor anger control.

5. Exercise

Including physical activity in your daily routine can help reduce the stress that often triggers
anger. Brisk exercise like running is a great way to burn off tension and release endorphins, a
natural pick-me-up that can also help calm your mood.

Anger management programs can help you learn techniques to pause before reacting and develop
skills to disengage from conflict or difficult conversations while cooling down (rather than
rehashing the issue over and over again, which is called rumination). You may learn relaxation
exercises or coping strategies like meditation, deep breathing, yoga or other activities that work
for you. Support groups can provide a safe space to talk about the parts of your life that trigger
anger and give you a sense of not being alone in this struggle.