Find a Provider
Health Library Explorer
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z A-Z Listings Contact Us

How to Control Your Temper

We’ve all been angry at times. Whether it’s a fight with a friend, an annoyance at work, or something else altogether, anger is never a pleasant experience. But it’s comforting to know that—however unpleasant—anger is part of being human. 

At least some anger is needed for survival. When we feel threatened, we develop aggressive feelings and behaviors. This allows us to fight and defend ourselves. 

But, frequent or intense episodes of anger aren’t good for you or the people around you. If you find yourself boiling mad more often than not, try some of these tips to keep your temper in check:

  • Check for other illnesses. Frequent feelings of aggression can have an underlying cause, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, Alzheimer’s disease, or another illness. If you suspect that your temper problems may be caused by another condition, see your health care provider.

  • Be assertive, not aggressive. If you feel angry over a disagreement with someone, the best way to express it is by sharing your feelings in a respectful way. Expressing anger in this way can be healthier than holding it in. Those who hold back their feelings are more likely to develop passive-aggressive behavior and depression, as well as physical ailments like high blood pressure. When you assert your feelings, however, stay calm and refrain from behaviors such as yelling. It may feel good to “let it rip.” But this behavior has been shown to increase anger, not relieve it.  In short, don’t be afraid to speak up, but be courteous at the same time.

  • Identify and avoid your triggers. One good way to keep your temper in check is to not get angry in the first place. If you know that bumper-to-bumper traffic stresses you out, try to drive before or after rush hour. If you’re cranky first thing in the morning, don’t start stressful conversations with your spouse until you’ve had your morning coffee. Of course, you can't avoid every trigger, but recognizing and steering clear of the controllable ones can go a long way toward decreasing your anger and stress levels.

  • Learn to relax. A few tricks to cool your temper can come in handy the next time you feel yourself close to boiling over. Deep breathing, for example, is a simple technique that can be effective at diffusing anger. To do it, inhale slowly through your nose, hold your breath for a few seconds, and then exhale through your mouth. This helps counteract the rapid, shallow breathing that angry people often have. Visualizing a calm place, real or imaginary, can also help. Practice these techniques daily, and they’ll feel more natural as time goes on.

  • Seek help. If calming yourself down isn’t working and no other cause can be found for your anger, sessions with a professional may help you learn better ways of coping. This kind of therapy can be done one-on-one or in a group situation. Most anger-management counseling focuses on controlling anger, conflict resolution, and other tools to help you keep your aggression from getting the better of you. Ask your primary health care provider for a referral to a therapist or group program.

If you think you are going to become physically or emotionally violent, remove yourself from the situation.

Online Medical Reviewer: Ballas, Paul, DO
Online Medical Reviewer: Fraser, Marianne, MSN, RN
Date Last Reviewed: 1/1/2017
© 2000-2017 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
Contact Our Health Professionals
Follow Us
About StayWell

Our web site is designed to provide general information to educate users about programs and services, which may be available through our hospitals. The web site is not intended to provide medical advice nor should the information be used to attempt to determine the presence, absence or severity of any illness or medical condition which may be perceived or experienced by the user of this site. If you have or suspect you may have an illness or condition which you believe requires medical attention, we recommend you call your primary care physician. If you believe you are experiencing a medical emergency please call "911" (or your local medical emergency number) or seek immediate care from the nearest hospital Emergency Department. The provision of information to users of this web site is not intended as an inducement or to otherwise influence a person's decision to order or receive any item or service from a particular provider, practitioner or supplier that is reimbursable under Medicare, a state healthcare program (e.g., AHCCS) or any other healthcare plan.

Physicians are members of the medical staff at each facility, but are independent contractors who are neither employees nor agents of Carondelet Medical Group; and, as a result, Carondelet Medical Group is not responsible for the actions of any of these physicians in their medical practices.