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Managing anger

Anger is a basic human emotion and feeling angry is OK. It is how we respond to and express that anger that can cause problems.

Expressing anger in an abusive, violent or negative way is unacceptable. Rather than trying to suppress the anger, we need to learn how to manage it in a way that acknowledges the feeling while not harming anyone else.

  1. Do you sometimes have trouble controlling your temper?
  2. Have you ever become angry and regretted it later?
  3. Have you ever lost control of your anger to the point where you became violent or abusive?
  4. Has anyone ever commented on your anger? 

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the questions, here are some initial ideas to help take the strength out of anger.

Calling MensLine Australia to talk can be good place to start. We can provide you with specialised tools and information for you and your situation.

Recognising the warning signs

In order to control your anger, you first need to be able to recognise the signs that you are getting angry:

  • Muscular tightening, especially around the jaw and arms
  • A sensation of building pressure in the head
  • Sensations of heat and flushing in the face
  • Elevated heart rate, breathing or sweating 

These physical signs are all indications that your body is preparing for ‘fight or flight’, our primitive response to threat. Once you recognise that you are getting angry, you have the opportunity to do something to diffuse the situation before it gets out of control. Here are some techniques you can try.

Time Out

Stepping away from a situation when you are starting to feel angry gives you space to think clearly and calm down. If things are starting to get heated, try saying to the other person something like, ‘Listen, I think I need to take a break for a bit. I’ll come back and we can sort this out in half an hour’.

Controlled breathing

Slowing and deepening your breath can help diffuse the anger. Try taking five long, slow breaths. Focus on relaxing the muscles in your arms and face.

Talk yourself down not up

Self-talk has the ability to influence whether you get more or less angry in an exchange.

Saying things to yourself like, ‘This person is an idiot!’ or ‘How dare she talk to me like that?’ is likely to increase your feelings of anger. Instead, try calming self-statements such as: 
  • ‘Cool it. You can handle this.’
  • ‘No point flying off the handle. Let’s just take a few breaths.’
  • ‘I’m not going to let this get to me.’
  • ‘Relax…’ 

Skills to avoid getting angry in the first place 

While these anger management techniques can help you calm down in a crisis, they don’t address the causes of excessive anger. Conflict is inevitable in relationships, but this doesn’t mean that every disagreement needs to lead to an angry fight.


Anger can be the result of built up, unresolved distress, or it may be masking underlying emotions such as sadness. Learning relaxation skills can help you release the physical tension in the body which can contribute to anger problems.

Changing beliefs that contribute to anger

Some anger problems are related to underlying belief systems about how the world ‘should’ be. If you have a belief that the world should conform to your expectations, you may experience a lot of frustration and anger when it doesn’t.

Seek help if you need it

MensLine Australia offers a range of free, professional counselling services for men. Give us a call today, or register for free online or video counselling

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Please do not post questions or requests for help here as we are unable to respond. Please email talkitover@mensline.org.au instead, or post website feedback on our feedback page

User comments

billy outour
16-Jun-15 01:54 AM
I'm really angry sometimes , i lose control i need to clam down towards my girls
12-Jun-15 06:54 AM
I become angry with myself through frustration associated with being over loaded.
MensLine admin
27-May-15 02:09 PM
A reminder that MensLine is here to help you through the tough times. Please get in touch on 1300 78 99 78 or register for online counselling here: http://www.mensline.org.au/user/register. If you are in immediate distress, please call emergency services on 000.
MensLine admin
21-May-15 03:36 PM
Michael, ur right. At times we can't eliminate sources of anger or hurt in our lives, particularly when it involves missing a son u love. That’s why we need a range of strategies to manage anger, particularly if u can’t change the situation. Most of us would like to cut off from painful emotions, that also means cutting off from positive emotions, not so easy to do in practice. MensLine is here to help with strategies to manage ur frustration. Pls get in touch on 1300 78 99 78.
21-May-15 11:11 AM
Well that does nothing! How can one just eliminate anger when the causes are right inn your face? Take it this way....not seen my son in 18mths, have nowhere to live, no job, no partner for 12 yrs....bloody nothing and I have no means to fix it....yet I am supposed to just quell such anger. get some real facts instead of just sitting in an office theorising!
MensLine admin
13-May-15 01:00 PM
Hi Jason, our Mensline counsellors are here to provide you with support. Mensline has helped many men who have felt they needed help with anger. Please get in touch on 1300 78 99 78 or register for online counselling here: http://www.mensline.org.au/user/register
13-May-15 12:27 PM
I would like some help with my anger issues please . I am having marriage problems and for years I have denied my anger issues .
MensLine Admin
06-May-15 12:39 PM
Hi Jo, parenting can be a challenging and it sounds like you would like some help so you don’t repeat what happened today. MensLine is here to help you with some strategies to help communicate with your son, and help you better manage your frustration and anger. Please get in touch on 1300 78 99 78 or register for online counselling here: http://www.mensline.org.au/user/register
MensLine Admin
06-May-15 09:50 AM
Hi Kevin, MensLine can provide support so you don't have to go through this alone. You may find some anger management strategies can help - give us a call on 1300 78 99 78 or register for online counselling here: https://www.mensline.org.au/user/register
05-May-15 12:32 PM
When I get angry it takes me days to cool down. And I have trouble sleeping which makes it worst.
02-May-15 11:41 PM
It's been a while that I have been angry with my son on how he treats his mother, today was a blow, I was swearing then I walked away screaming at hitting things, my wife was crying, I need help I don't want to loose my family.
13-Apr-15 08:51 AM
Thanks your information and tips here will look to help my anger issues. It is great to realise support is available
01-Apr-15 11:48 AM
Hi, i need help with my anger problems, it's starting to effect people around me, and im starting to get abusive towards others. I want to better myself and become a better person but with no 1 to turn to its hard.
MensLine Admin
30-Mar-15 05:21 PM
Minnie, the situation you have described is very concerning. If you are in immediate danger, please call 000 and request police. For more support and advice, please call the 24 hour domestic violence hotline on 1800 737 732 (1800 RESPECT). Call the Suicide Call Back Service if you are under any risk of suicide. This is nation wide service open 24 hours for appropriate referral and assistance. 1300 659 467
30-Mar-15 01:02 AM
My husband smashes things when he's angry and called me stupid. So far he has broke the room's door, bin, DVD player, TV antenna, etc and on occasion of our argument, he pushed our small dog away and said that's not hitting. He threatened that he will get someone to kill me if I leave him. What should I do...
22-Mar-15 08:49 PM
I believe I have a rage/constant anger problem, I hate it but can't help but being at best cranky all the time at worst a raving lunatic and abusive to my family.... Thanks for the information I may ring.
04-Mar-15 02:54 PM
Way to go Patrick, I couldn't agree more mate. I worked hard to be in Senior Management. I'm in Queensland and have been unemployed since November because of the previous Government, and have completed just over 420 job applications. Now we are going to have our house foreclosed upon by the bank because we cant sustain our mortgage, what a joke, so much for "Fair Go Australia" No one cares about pepel in my situation, its all about protection there own!!!!!!!!
MensLine Admin
21-Jan-15 09:50 AM
Hi Kate, MensLine Australia is available to anyone who is worried about a male family member, partner or friend. We suggest you give us a call on 1300 78 99 78 to talk about your husband's behaviour and how this is affecting your relationship. You might also like to try our online counselling available on mensline.org.au.
20-Jan-15 11:55 AM
My husband has anger problems also and doesn't think before he speaks to people if it will hurt them he jokes around and goes to far please help it's making our relationship hard
18-Jan-15 02:43 AM
Calling men line is something out of this world. Extremely helpful. Informative. The advise I received has definitely cleared my mind which I feel positive in putting my anger at bay permanently. Thank you again☺
28-Dec-14 06:59 PM
I have a short fuse and tend to loose it over silly things. This generally causes problems for me with my wife!! How can I change this to not only better myself but my relationship also????
MensLine Admin
10-Dec-14 05:05 PM
Hi Patrick, we’re worried about your post on our website. We strongly suggest you call our service on 1300 78 99 78 for immediate support. We have counsellors available 24/7.
09-Dec-14 12:24 PM
how does keeping a person unemployed keep the community safe the criminal justice system is a business everything in life is a choice if only they knew the way I think every day in misery because of their choices it was a short term gain and a long term lose for many who ruined my life when my life comes to its end we will see how many laugh where there is life there is hope no there is misery my hatetred knows no bounds right of choice is everything
10-Nov-14 06:01 PM
My partner has anger issues I've been telling him to get help
29-Oct-14 11:31 PM
I've signed up tonight because I'm looking at getting help for my Anger issues. My biggest concern is that at the moment it really is more of a rage, constant, lurking, waiting for something small to set it off. Also, the link for downloading this info as a PDF isn't working...
MensLine Admin
18-Sep-14 09:42 AM
Hi Marce, perhaps you'd like to give us a call on 1300 78 99 78 or register for online counselling to have have a chat about this? We're available 24/7.
17-Sep-14 03:57 PM
My husband has got such an anger issue, it's destroying our family, what can I do?
MensLine Admin
13-Aug-14 12:20 PM
Jason, sounds like the issues you raise would really benefit from a chat to a counsellor. We really encourage you to give us a call on 1300 78 99 78 or register for online counselling.
08-Aug-14 05:22 PM
I do all the above, but when you tell them to stop and go away. they continue to belittle and yell until the pressure builds up and you loose it not physically to anybody. and then they call the victim card even when they are the one winding you up. more advice?
Jamie vanderveen
16-Jul-14 01:04 AM
I'm in Brisbane and my girl and kids are on the Sunshine Coast. If anyone can help us with some couples counciling so we can both be happy again with our 2 awesome kids would be a blessing for me
Jamie vanderveen
16-Jul-14 01:00 AM
You know trying to win back the girl you love is feeling impossible when I now realise ow much I've broke. Kills me everyday. I'm a crazy F*&$ sometimes and lookn back on it,I don't wana be that person. (edited by administrator)
Steve taylor
05-Jun-14 02:23 PM
I'm just wondering if you do any anger management classes
08-Jan-14 06:31 PM
I am 24 and have been dealing with anger since my teens. I will say i feel like i have matured but im still this angry timebomb snapping at anyone or anything. I hope life gets better with this information.
Suzanne Higgins
08-Jan-14 03:50 PM
Great information. I was looking for information for a male partner of a woman I am working with (Perinatal Mental Health Service). Will try to get her partner to access Mensline Help. Thank you
07-Jan-14 09:26 AM
One of my clients used your service before reaching out to seek face to face counselling. At a turning point in their life, a time where they found themselves in crisis, they found great comfort and support from you. Thank you for making your important service available.

Dan - www.counsellingsydney.com.au
03-Dec-13 10:20 PM
My son has a major anger issues. But i suspect this is also fueled by drug use in particular crack which makes them very irrational and angry. My wife wants to get anger management but i think its a drug problem. He may have issues that make him angry that stem from depression as he has suffered from this for some time. But the drugs has just made it worse and complicated it all.
15-Apr-13 07:32 PM
I've been very abusive lately I really hope this helps
06-Apr-13 08:35 PM
My dad has an anger problem. But won't listen when we try to encourage him to get help. It just enrages him more.
Jason Kay
04-Apr-13 11:20 AM
I found this very helpful. I'm currently in crisis at the moment and it was great to look online and find helpful advice, IMMEDIATELY!!! Thanks so much. i've booked a call to be made to me.
13-Feb-13 09:07 AM
This helped me sooooooooooooo much. It's helped me to be a better person
Yankee Bob
01-Feb-13 12:28 PM
For some of us who come from families where alcohol / addiction anger is a major challenge.

You may benefit by going to Al Anon, and learn the tools they teach on anger.
11-Jan-13 11:56 PM
Please please- help. My husband- I know beneath the anger and emotional abuse is the beautiful man I married but he has never had any male role models in his life(his parents divorced)-and sadly he always turns 2 advice with his mother who has failed at 2 marriages and has a lot of problems herself.-I have been told I am passive aggressive and am working on my probs_which I admit affects his anger and I am working on this but the only hope left is for the Anger to stop- I have bent every way I know how to help this man and now after 16yrs I am broken.....if it can't be fixed I am ready to walk
08-Jan-13 08:28 PM
Liked what I have read so far.will now write down my areas I want to better understand and manage,then to to one of your people.
Thank you
05-Jan-13 11:50 PM
Thankyou I found this useful
29-Dec-12 08:03 PM
I wish I could control it, but I don't think it's possible..
27-Dec-12 11:26 AM
this was interesting i have downloaded ur PDF file and will read it and may calll you
Derek. C
25-Nov-12 04:41 PM
Step away the situation whenever the anger came from you or the others. Concentrate on how to solve the problem not the anger.
25-Oct-12 04:19 PM
I have significant issues with controling my anger which manifests in shouting and becoming verablly abusive, generally towards my wife. It is/has destroyed my relationship and I feel in an almost constant aggressive state. I never was like this but after 10 + years in the middle of my wife and ex-wife and now with my 17yo son living with us for the past year, causing further blended family issues, here I am.
18-Oct-12 01:27 AM
Thanks for the info I wish I read it before I left for work today I shouldn't let customers anger me so much but it's hard when there yelling 2 cm away from my face
14-Oct-12 07:31 AM
I wish i did something about my anger before my family breakdown this info will help me manage my anger for the future.
05-Oct-12 12:07 AM
I was amazed upon visiting here as the articles are all very informative.
My congratulations to the people behind the success of this website.
You really rock guys! Keep up the good works!

04-Oct-12 10:56 AM
As a crisis worker, i am often under pressure to perform. I know all of this common sense advice - but i have begun to forget to follow it myself! Thankyou for these tips. And reiterating to me what it is i am at pains to instill in others.
30-Jan-12 04:43 PM
a door closed,now i am trapped and see the pain everyday
30-Dec-11 12:54 AM
I have an anger problem but I found good tips on here
04-Nov-11 04:05 PM
I have this problem