Life is full of frustrations, both big and small. There may be unexpected (or even expected!) traffic on the way to work that irritates or enrages you. A coworker may play music just a little too loud. Your partner might forget something you explicitly asked them to remember. Even something as benign as a stain on a favorite shirt can be enough to make you angry on a bad day. Releasing anger in an appropriate way is a good thing and can make you feel much better.

No one can escape the situations in life that make you want to lash out in frustration. But regularly giving in to anger isn’t good for you and can negatively impact those around you.

Why We Get Angry

It’s not always convenient, but anger is a normal and healthy emotion that can have a positive purpose. Feeling angry can spur us to action and arouse protective or defensive responses in threatening situations. When we see something wrong or unjust in the world, our anger can lead us to act to set things right.

Anger can range in intensity from mild irritation to overwhelming rage. How each individual responds to anger-provoking situations is dependent on many factors, including personality, genetics, and learned behaviors. (1)

While anger can motivate us to take positive action, it can also provoke aggression. (2) Anger and aggression are two different things, and feeling angry does not have to lead to aggressive behaviors. (3) However, when emotional intelligence and regulation are lacking, anger can become destructive and aggressive actions may follow.

That is when anger becomes problematic and harmful to yourself or others.

Health Consequences of Anger

Releasing Anger

Problematic anger is not good for health. This is true for emotional and spiritual health, as well as many other aspects of wellness, including social and physical.

The body responds to anger in much the same way as it responds to stress. The heart rate increases, blood pressure rises, and the body courses with adrenaline. When the body is frequently exposed to these stressful conditions, it negatively affects well-being.

Stress has been linked to many health conditions, including high blood pressure, anxiety, digestive dysregulation, and heart disease. (4) Even beyond stress, problematic anger itself can increase the risk of coronary heart disease, with this risk being more significant in men than women. (5) Being angry wears down the body and weakens the heart.

Studies on people with chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia and IBS have shown anger can lead to poor mental health, decreased quality of life, and increased pain. (6) (7) Being able to cope with difficult circumstances without resorting to anger is vital if we want to be resilient in the face of poor health.

Problematic anger impacts the ability to maintain stable relationships, perform well at work, and make good decisions. (8) Facing irritations and unexpected outcomes is inevitable in daily life. Therefore, having the emotional intelligence to manage feelings of anger when they arise is essential to health and well-being.

Three Ways Anger Is Managed

The American Psychological Association emphasizes three primary ways anger may show itself: expression, suppression, and calming. (2)


When a person can express anger in safe, acceptable ways, expression is the healthiest way to cope. Anger shouldn’t be denied or ignored. It needs to come out somehow, ideally with appropriate expression.

The ability to express anger in a healthy way requires confidence and assertiveness. It’s not easy to communicate calmly in difficult situations. But, the skill is essential to anger management. Directly expressing anger is good when it can be done in productive and safe ways.

Anger can also be expressed in unhealthy ways. Lashing out at others, aggression, and behaviors that give free rein to angry feelings are destructive and counterproductive. While the release may feel good at the moment, it is a sign of an unhealthy relationship with your feelings.


Similar to expression, suppression has the potential to be a beneficial technique to manage anger. Suppression could mean acknowledging what you are feeling, deciding it does not need to be expressed, and choosing to focus on something else. This might be a good path when faced with minor, daily irritations that are not worth your time or emotional energy.

Suppression becomes a problem when acknowledging and exploring the source of the feeling are absent. Anger then becomes bottled up. Instead of being dealt with, it is avoided and suppressed. This type of suppression can turn the compressed rage inward onto yourself.

There is a big difference between wisely suppressing and releasing anger you can acknowledge as unnecessary, vs. denying the feeling and stuffing it down. Anger that is not given a constructive outlet will eat away at you and eventually leak out in unhealthy ways.


The ability to calm both the outward expressions of anger and the inward feeling is useful in daily life. Calming anger requires acceptance of things that cannot be controlled. In addition, there are techniques that can create a bit of space and distance from the emotion to provide an opportunity for calm.

Long-term management of angry feelings is only possible if you have the tools to manage your reaction and when needed, let it go.

5 Healthy Ways to Manage Anger

Releasing Anger

1. Get out of the Situation

If you are in a situation that triggers an anger response that feels unmanageable, step away if possible. A change of location or scenery will often provide the space needed to reframe and calm your feelings. It may take practice to learn how to gracefully extract yourself when you are feeling high emotion.

Saying something like, “I need to think about this for a minute. Can we have the conversation tomorrow (or in 30 minutes, whatever is appropriate)?” or “I’m feeling angry and need time to calm down. Can we press pause?”. Most people will respect you more for stepping away than for staying and losing your cool.

2. Challenge Your Thinking

While anger may be a reasonable response in certain situations, your thinking can quickly become unreasonable when clouded by emotion. Take a mental step back and question your thoughts. It’s common to create a narrative around the situation that provoked your anger, and it is usually not based on logic. 

Ask yourself:

  • Why does this make me so angry?
  • Is there another way to interpret this situation?
  • Is it worth being angry about this?
  • How would I feel if I was in the other person’s shoes?
  • Is there an action I need to take to address this feeling?

The Be Well app can give helpful prompts when you let it know you are feeling angry. Taking a moment to check your emotions and question what you are feeling can be enlightening. Hopefully, you will find clarity and a wise path forward.

3. Use a Relaxation Technique

Releasing Anger

Pausing to count to 10 isn’t just for kids. Adults can use that technique to give themselves a moment to relax and try again. Other ways to relax when angry could be progressive relaxation, deep breathing, and gentle stretching. Think about ways to get out of your head and into your body.

Open the Be Well app and choose a calming meditation. Or, pick some soothing music or soundscapes that set the mood for releasing tension. The Be Well app also has breathing exercises that can relax your body and give you the break you need to find perspective.

4. Find an Anger Release Valve

Some people experience anger as a very intense emotion. That feeling has to go somewhere and needs a healthy expression. It’s ok to need to blow off some steam. 

The key is to find a suitable release valve. It should be constructive and leave you feeling calmer and healthier. Ideas include journaling, exercising, or venting to a trusted friend. Sometimes the vigorous physical activity is the perfect way to work through rage as long as it’s not a punishment towards yourself. 

The Be Well app has so many exercise videos that can work to release tension and anger. You can choose from strength building, yoga, tai chi, or qigong as release valves for intense feelings. Giving them an outlet with movement can feel very therapeutic.

Eliminate Anger Triggers

Releasing Anger

Where it is within your control, explore ways to avoid or eliminate situations that irritate or enrage you. If you can minimize some of the minor things that chip away at your self-control, you will have the emotional energy to manage your feelings in situations you can’t control. 

This could look like this:

  • Taking a new route to work to avoid traffic.
  • Recognizing recurring situations in a relationship that cause anger and stopping or replacing the pattern.
  • Organizing your time better to avoid feeling rushed.
  • Getting sufficient sleep, so you don’t feel cranky and prone to anger.
  • Making time with your partner or friends a priority, so you feel connected and supported.
  • Limiting your exposure to the news or social media.

Forgiveness and Acceptance

In a perfect world, perhaps we would all be Zen masters who had total control over feelings of anger. But, perhaps not. Anger has a place as one of our foundational emotions, and it has much to teach us if we are willing to learn.

Feeling angry presents an opportunity to practice acceptance and let go of our plans and expectations. When our anger is directed towards another person, we have the chance to forgive. Accepting what is out of our control and extending forgiveness to those who have harmed us are acts of deep emotional intelligence and humanity.

When we accept and forgive, we do not condone what is wrong or the harm that has been done, but we actively choose to release the negative emotions that will eat away at us if we let them. Thus, forgiveness and acceptance are acts of self-care as well as kindness.

There will always be people and situations in life that make us angry. Things rarely go the way we expect. But the path of wellness invites us to manage how we respond and choose kindness and grace whenever possible. When we release our feelings of anger, we open the door to a life of peace and well-being.