What is anger?

Anger is a normal reaction and emotion. It can be helpful as it motivates us to do something to right a wrong but it can also lead us into problems if not channelled the right way. 

Anger is a natural response when we feel threatened, attacked, frustrated or treated unfairly. Anger is not always a “bad” emotion.

Helpful anger can:

  • Help us identify things that are hurting us or causing problems
  • Motivate us to change things
  • Help us defend ourselves in danger

Unhelpful anger can cause problems by:

  • Creating destructive or unhelpful behaviours
  • Having a negative impact on your mental and/or physical health
  • Hurting or upsetting others around you

Types of anger:

Outward aggression - shouting,swearing, hitting, punching and making threats
Inward aggression - hatred towards yourself
Passive aggression - non violent behaviour such as ignoring people

What causes anger?

Anger arises from how we interpret certain situations. Everyone has different triggers of feeling angry. Some triggers include feeling:

  • Threatened or attacked
  • Frustrated
  • Not being able to control the situation

How we interpret these situations and react to them can be changed so we don’t get angry.

  • Heart beating fast and breathing quickly
  • Tensing muscles, clenching jaw or fists
  • Tapping feet, getting restless
  • Lump in throat
  • Shaking or sweating
  • Narrowed vision

By recognising these early, you can learn to calm yourself down before getting aggressive. Make a note of your own to help recognise when you are feeling angry.

Things you can do to help yourself

Here are some top tips from other young people who have experienced anger and some things that have helped them. See what works for you. Once you are a little calmer, try to distract yourself with activities from your Hope Box.

When you feel yourself getting angry

  • Count to 10, focus on your breathing, try Mindfulness techniques
  • Go for a short walk
  • Talk to someone you trust who is not involved in the situation
  • Tear up a newspaper, or hit a pillow
  • Walk away from the situation; you can come back to it later


  • Learn your triggers
  • Calm down using coping strategies


  • Examine your thought patterns: can you interpret the situation differently?
  • Learn to communicate your feelings effectively


  • Practice calming techniques
  • Make lifestyle changes: reduce drugs/alcohol, eat and sleep well, be active

Pause for thought...

Try asking yourself, how important will this be tomorrow? How important will this be in six months’ time?

Do something physical to try and burn off some of the adrenaline which anger can cause:

  • Do some exercise: go for a run, fast walk, cycle ride or a swim
  • Rip up a big newspaper quickly
  • Use a punch bag or big cushion to expel your anger 
  • Scream into a pillow
  • Go outside and throw some soft balls or soft toys around. Or throw a tennis ball against a wall 
  • Try a mindful breathing exercise - use one of the recommended apps to guide you
  • Try listening to some music to help calm you down
  • Practice calming breathing - try breathing in for the count of seven and out for the count of 11. Repeat this at least five times. This one act alone will help reduce the physical sensations, emotions and intensity of thoughts.