Strategies to manage anger and reduce stress

Certainly, there are times when we feel stressed and can’t find a way to control how we react to these situations. Anger is one of those emotions we have all felt, either over problems at home, at work, with friends, or due to an event in our daily lives. Anger is an expected response to unpleasant or conflictive situations. It causes physical changes, intense and occasionally aggressive feelings, and behaviors that help us fight back or defend ourselves when we feel attacked. However, it’s important to be able to stay in control of this emotion as it can cause harm to the people involved and even to ourselves. This means anger qualifies as a negative emotion. Therefore, when you feel angry, it’s important to practice the following strategies, which will surely help you feel calmer and reflect on what has happened:

  1. Time out: Put distance between you and the situation or person causing your anger. Then, you can cool down and let the dust settle. This will help you make better decisions in the near future and use an assertive language.
  2. Deep breathing is a relaxation technique that can help us calm down when we’re angry.  Place one hand on your chest and the other one on your belly, and breathe in deep. Hold your breath for 5 seconds and then, exhale. Do this exercise as many times as you need.
  3. “Take it easy,” “Relax,” and “Calm down” are words or phrases you can repeat to yourself as you breathe deeply. You can think about them or say them out loud.
  4. Imagine you’re in a relaxing or pleasant space. It can be something from your memory or an imaginary place.
  5. Listen or think before you speak or act. When we’re angry, we respond without analyzing what’s going on. This can make you say or do things you didn’t mean to, and you will later regret it.
  6. Do low-impact exercise, such as walking, running bike, meditation, or doing yoga. This will help you clear your mind and organize your thoughts.

These strategies also help reduce your stress or anxiety, which may be factors that affect the way you react. It’s important to reflect on the situation or reason that led to your angry feelings. This is key in order to handle different situations in the future. Thinking positively will help you see things differently and will allow you to recognize or identify possible solutions. Practicing these strategies may help you better handle and control the emotions that lead to anger and stress. Once you manage to relax or calm down and have reached a certain level of peace of mind, it’s important for you to express your anger, your needs, or your frustrations through dialogue.  This dialogue should always be respectful, while still expressing your position. 

However, if, after you’ve practiced all the recommendations above, your anger persists or you cannot control other emotions that affect your wellbeing and your interpersonal and working relationships, you can always seek help from a psychologist or healthcare provider. There are various treatments that can give you the tools you need to modify your thoughts or behaviors. 

This piece was written by Keyshlie Morales Figueroa, social worker, and student of the Master of Science in Counseling Psychology graduate program at Albizu University.


Como controlar el enojo. American Psychological Association. Accessed on September 20, 2021. Estrategias para controlar su enojo. American Psychological Association. Accessed on September 20, 2021.