How to handle anger

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Anger makes it difficult to think clearly and communicate effectively. When you’re wound up, try these tips to help put you in a better frame of mind to explore and tackle what made you so angry in the first place.

Recognise your anger signs and then count to 10

A fast heart rate and quick breaths can indicate that anger is rising. Other signs include tension in the shoulders or clenching of the fists. When you find yourself getting angry, take long, slow breaths, and count to 10. This gives you a chance to think more clearly before reacting out of anger. It also provides you with an opportunity to remove yourself totally from the situation without drawing attention to yourself.

Talk things over with someone you trust

Do you have a friend or family member who is a good listener? Talking over how you feel can help you to let go of angry feelings. If anger is getting in the way of your life, you might want to talk to your GP or confide in a school counsellor. They can teach you ways to cope with anger. Counselling can be especially helpful when difficult life events, in the past or present, are causing the anger.

Engage in physical activity

Anger can manifest itself as a tightness in the chest or throat. Exercise can help to ease this and to release angry feelings. Getting moving can be a great way to let go of pent-up emotions, so think about going for a walk, dancing around your bedroom or practising some yoga.

Discover mindfulness

Mindfulness can teach you to watch your thoughts as a calm observer rather than getting caught up in them, and acting them out. Practising regularly can help to prevent anger and make it easier to stay calm when the feeling arises.

Do something fun or creative

What gives you a sense of joy? Meeting a friend, having a dance, drawing a picture or watching a comedy show? Doing things you love can be an effective way to shift your mood.

Let go of angry thoughts

‘Thoughts such as “it’s not fair” can make anger worse,’ says clinical psychologist and anger management specialist Isabel Clarke on government website nhs.co.uk. It also recommends trying not to use phrases that include:

always – ‘You always do that.’
never – ‘You never listen to me.’
should or shouldn’t – ‘You should do what I want’ or ‘You shouldn’t be on the roads.’
must or mustn’t – ‘I must be on time,’ or ‘I mustn’t be late.’

  • Words: Kate Orson.
  • Illustrations: Fern Choonet.
  • This article is an extract from issue 4 of Teen Breathe magazine. Buy the digital edition here.

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