Cool it: Tricks and tips to manage anger better

You are reading the Original Version (CLB5+) Read Simple Version (CLB3-4)

Skip to:

Anger is one of our most misunderstood emotions. We usually want to avoid it because it is an unpleasant feeling. However, when justified, showing anger at the right time can resolve issues and help bring about change.

Anger is normal. When you think about it, it’s a natural reaction to threats. It only becomes bad when you have (or show) too much of it. It can control your life and affect your physical and mental health, work, and relationships. As a newcomer, anger can build up when reality does not match your expectations. A difficult job search, culture shock, or a rough adjustment to the weather can be frustrating. If these pile up, it could lead to chronic anger. If you are in this situation, consider the following tips:

Strategies for handling anger:

  1. Pay attention to the signs

    Recognize the situations, events or memories that trigger your anger. Do you get angry easily when you’re driving during rush hour? Are you more irritable at certain times of the day, for example around the end of a workday when you’re tired or hungry? Remembering certain situations can also make you more prone to rage. Avoid these when you can. Perhaps you can drive to work earlier that usual, observe regular meal times, or stop yourself from ruminating. Being aware of the triggers can help control your reaction.

  2. Count to 10

    This simple habit can prevent you from doing or saying something that you may regret later on. It will help you calm down and assess the situation. Train yourself to do this every time you feel any strong emotion. It can help to have reminders. A friend who handles customer complaints at a call centre has a poster on her wall with 10 calming photos. These consist of cute cats and natural landscapes. Devise your own strategy to help remind yourself.

  3. Understand why you are feeling this way

    Our thought patterns can make situations worse than they really are. Negative thinking can fuel our frustration and anger. Here are some examples:

    • Overgeneralizing – Examples: “I never get the credit I deserve.” “People always disrespect me.” “Nothing good ever happens to me.”
    • Obsessing on “shoulds” and “musts” – Many of us set strict standards and unrealistic goals. When things don’t go exactly as we imagine, we get frustrated.
    • Mind reading and jumping to conclusions – This is when we assume that others are watching what we do and judging us.
    • Collecting straws – This is when we think about negative things, small irritations, and bad events in the past and then pile them on to a current issue. This can make a minor situation bigger and more dramatic.
    • Blaming – Having someone to blame can make one angrier. We do this to avoid taking responsibility for our own actions.

    When you notice that you are doing any of these, stop for a minute. Take control of your feelings, try to focus only on the current situation and stay objective.

  4. Think of the consequences

    The question to ask is : Will your anger resolve anything? 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 – will you lose your job? Will you hurt someone you care about? Will you damage a relationship?


    5 tips for handling anger from Howcast

  6. Turn anger into something constructive

    Instead of dwelling on the things that make you angry, redirect your energy towards an activity. 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 clearly. It can even lead to a solution or plan of action.

  7. 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

    Seek the help of a professional as soon as possible. Talk to someone even if you notice milder signs but feel like anger is starting to affect your thoughts and health. Anyone can benefit from the evaluation and advice of a counsellor or doctor.

Article updated April 29, 2021.
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.

Back to top

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.

Back to top

We'd love to hear from you!

Please login to tell us what you think.

Related Learning Activities

Health Workshops

A health care worker holding the hand of a patient

This is a series of workshops related to health. Workshops 1 is geared towards CLB 3-4. Workshop 2 is geared… Read more »

Back to top

CC BY-NC-SAText of this page is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA, unless otherwise marked. Please attribute to English Online Inc. and link back to this page where possible. For images and videos, check the source for licensing information.