Cool it: Tricks and tips to manage anger better

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Anger is one of our most misunderstood emotions. Many of us want to avoid it, while others seem to be angry all the time. As it is usually related to unsavoury experiences, it is considered an unpleasant emotion to have. However, when justified, showing the right amount of anger at the right time can resolve things and help bring about change.

Being angry is not a bad thing – it is a normal human emotion. What is bad is when anger controls your life to the point that it affects your physical and mental health, work, and relationships. Some newcomers may experience this when reality does not meet their expectations. They could go through a difficult job search, culture shock, a rough adjustment to the weather, and other adversities related to integration. Experiencing these could lead to frustration, which can later escalate to chronic anger. If you can relate to this scenario, follow these steps:

Strategies for handling anger:

Pay attention to the signs

Recognize the things or situations that trigger your anger. Do you seem to get angry easily when you’re driving during rush hour? Do more things irritate you at certain times of the day, like, for example, around the end of a workday when you’re tired or hungry? Does thinking about certain situations make you more prone to reacting with rage? Avoid these triggers when you can. But when you can’t, be aware that these underlying factors are pushing your buttons. Understanding the reasons will help you control your reaction.

Count to 10

It seems simple right? But oftentimes, doing this prevents you from saying or doing something you may regret later on. Counting to 10 allows you to stop, calm down and take stock of the situation. It will help you think clearly and assess the situation objectively.

Understand why you are feeling this way

Many times, our thought patterns make things worse than they really are. Negative thinking can further fuel our frustration and anger. Examples of this are:

  • Overgeneralizing – Examples: “I never get the credit I deserve.” “People always disrespect me.” “Nothing good ever happens to me.”
  • Obsessing on “should” and “musts” – When we expect things to go exactly our way and they don’t, we get frustrated. This is the result of overly stringent standards and unrealistic goals that we set for ourselves.
  • Mind reading and jumping to conclusions – This is when we assume what others are thinking about us or worse, that they are judging us.
  • Collecting straws – This is when we think only of negative things, small irritations, and bad events in the past then adding them to the real issue. This makes a minor situation seem bigger and more dramatic.
  • Blaming – Looking for someone to blame for the situation can make you angrier. We do this sometimes to avoid taking responsibility for our own actions.

When you notice that you are doing any of the aforementioned, stop. Avoid negative thinking. Take control of your feelings and focus only on the issue at hand.

Think of the consequences

Will your anger resolve anything? Or will an angry reaction only make things worse? Imagine what your boss, colleagues, family, friends or even your kids will feel (or think of you) after an outburst. Also, think about the long term consequences that your actions can bring.

5 tips for handling anger from Howcast

Find a way to turn it into something constructive

Instead of dwelling on the things that make you angry, course this energy into something constructive. Engage in mild exercise, yoga, or meditate when you feel overwhelmed. Try journalling to let it all out. Writing things down can also help you assess the situation more clearly. This can lead to a plan of action that may resolve the issue.

Know when to get help

Anger is considered chronic when you:

  • feel overwhelmed
  • have trouble organizing and managing your thoughts
  • fantasize about hurting yourself or others

This is the time to seek the help of a professional. Even if you see milder signs but feel like anger is starting to affect your thoughts and health, talk to someone. Everyone can benefit from the evaluation and advice of a counsellor or doctor.

Sources: Anger Management. Tips and techniques for getting anger under control, Molly Edmonds, Jeanne Segal, Ph.D. and Melinda Smith, M.A.,; Strategies for controlling your anger: Keeping anger in check, American Psychological Society; and Anger symptoms, causes and effects, Retrieved June 19, 2018.

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Community Resources

Do you or any of your family members need counselling? Aurora Family Therapy Centre offers effective therapy programs that are affordable. You can also ask them about their newcomer programs.

You do not have to be in crisis or suicidal to call Klinik Community Health. Experienced counsellors will be ready to listen and provide support.

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