Two young people standing together and looking up at something.


What is anger?

We all get angry – it’s just a part of being human. And it’s not a bad emotion to feel. Sometimes, feeling angry can be a helpful sign that something’s not right. And it can motivate us to create positive change. But if you find yourself losing control, anger can also be harmful.

If you’re struggling to control your behaviour, and your anger is hurting you or other people, it’s a good idea to reach out for some support. You might need help for your anger if you’re:

  • hitting or physically hurting other people or yourself
  • shouting a lot at other people
  • breaking stuff or throwing things
  • feeling angry all the time at yourself, others or what’s going on in the world

If anger is starting to affect your everyday life like this, there are lots of things you can do to manage it. We’re here to help you learn how.

Types of anger

Anger can come out in lots of different ways. Here are three common ways that people express it:

  • Outward aggression

    This is a physical or violent aggression, with behaviours like shouting, hitting, throwing things or making threats.

  • Inward aggression

    This is aggression aimed at yourself. You might tell yourself that you hate yourself, purposefully not get enough food or sleep, avoid others, or self-harm.

  • Passive aggression

    This is when you feel angry but instead of telling people how you feel, you show it in other ways. Like refusing to speak to someone, deliberately doing something badly, or saying sarcastic things to upset people.

We all show our anger differently. Recognising how you usually let your anger out can help you better understand it. Once you know, it’s easier to spot yourself doing it and find better ways to deal with the situation.

A girl with curly hair sits with her hand on her chin thinking, while a boy sits beside her wearing a grey jacket.
Feeling angry is entirely normal; it’s a human emotion that helps us to understand who we are, what we like and what we don’t like. So, when you tell yourself that you are not allowed to use that emotion, it can be damaging to your own wellbeing.

Why do I get angry?

There are lots of reasons why people get angry. Sometimes it’s easy to know what triggered you. Other times you might not know why you feel that way. Everyone has different experiences, opinions and perspectives, so what makes you angry might not make someone else angry at all. That doesn’t mean it’s wrong that you’re angry. Your anger is valid, no matter what triggers it. But thinking about why you feel that way can help you express it safely.

Here are some common reasons why people get angry.

The way you’re raised plays a big role in how you handle all sorts of situations. If you’ve always been told that it’s okay to respond aggressively when you’re angry, you might not know how else to manage your anger. Or maybe you’ve seen your parents or other adults lose control of their behaviour, so you do too.

If you’ve had something traumatic happen to you in the past that made you angry, you might still be carrying that feeling with you. Perhaps you’ve experienced racism or Islamophobia, abuse, bullying, or discrimination against your disability, sexuality or gender. Discrimination is never okay, so it’s understandable and valid if you’re angry. But even when your anger is justified, it’s still important to express it in a healthy way. And understanding why you’re angry can help you find safer ways to respond.

Find out more about coping with trauma

If you’re going through something tough, it can be harder to manage your emotions. You might find that even the little things trigger your anger.

You might be going through:

If you’re going through anything like this and it’s impacting your mental health, contact a helpline for support.

Find more advice in our guides to support

It’s natural to feel frustrated or upset about what’s going on in the world right now. Sometimes we see things happening that we know aren’t fair. And we’re not always happy with the decisions that people in power make. This can leave you feeling powerless and angry, and that’s okay.

It’s frustrating, but the anger you’re feeling can be a good thing if it’s expressed in the right way. Lots of people find that activism and campaigning is a healthy outlet for their anger. Whether it's joining up with a local action group or raising your voice for a cause you're passionate about, there are plenty of ways to turn that anger into positive change.

If you want to make a difference but don’t know where to start, take a look at Today Do This. Their weekly newsletter looks at one major headline from the week and offers simple, practical suggestions for how you can take action in response.

Sign up to the 'Today Do This' newsletter

If you want to raise your voice about mental health, we have ways you can get involved.

Join our youth-led movement for change
Our Activists Nicole giving a speech at the #EndTheWait Parliament event.
Anger serves a purpose when something we’re experiencing is unjust. I like to use my anger in a positive way – such as fighting for change.
Nicole, 19

Your health affects how you’re feeling every day. If your health has taken a dip, it can be much harder to manage your emotions.
Here are a few things that can impact your everyday health:

  • having a mental health problem, like anxiety or depression
  • not getting enough sleep
  • an unhealthy diet or not enough exercise
  • changes to your hormone levels, like during your period or if you take certain types of contraception
Browse our mental health guides for more support
Play Video: Ben talks about understanding his triggers. #ListenToAnger Ben talks about understanding his triggers. #ListenToAnger
Play Video: "It just boiled over" - Wesley on taking his anger out on himself. #ListenToAnger "It just boiled over" - Wesley on taking his anger out on himself. #ListenToAnger
Play Video: Charlotte on that moment you just explode. #ListenToAnger Charlotte on that moment you just explode. #ListenToAnger

How to manage anger

Managing your anger in the moment

Feeling angry doesn’t mean you have to be aggressive. There are lots of other ways to let it out.

  • Hit or squeeze something soft

    Try punching a pillow, squeezing a soft ball really hard, or popping bubble wrap.

  • Distract yourself

    Try doing something completely different, like playing a game, watching TV or reading a book.

  • Exercise

    Go for a run or do any exercise that you enjoy.

  • Breathe

    Try counting to ten or doing some breathing exercises before reacting.

  • Write it down

    Write everything you want to say down, and then throw it away or delete it.

  • Talk to someone

    Tell someone about what’s making you angry. Their point of view might help calm you down.

Three photos of the same person holding up placards. The person is wearing a black t-shirt. The first shot of them is that they are grinning and looking at the camera. In the middle shot, they are smiling while looking at the camera and the third they are looking serious at the camera.

The same young person wearing a black t-shirt holds three signs. The signs read:

Here are things I do when I feel myself getting angry.

1. First of all, take a breath
2. Exercise helps me get some built-up frustration out of my system

In the image the same person is shown three times holding placards with the different words on them. The person is wearing a grey jumper. In the first image, they are smiling, the second one they look more serious with the third image of them smiling again. The placards are things they do when they feel themselves getting angry.

The same young person wearing a grey jumper holds three signs. The signs read:

Here are things I do when I feel myself getting angry

1. I talk about how I am feeling
2. I try and recognise I'm angry and listen to others

In the image the same person is shown three times holding placards with the different words on them. The person is wearing yellow and in each one smiling, and looking at the camera. The placards are things they do when they feel themselves getting angry.

The same young person has long brown hair and wears a yellow jumper, they hold three signs which read:

Here are things I do when I feel myself getting angry

1. Putting on my favourite music really helps
2. Doing an action that helps me feel something different, like walking my dog

  • Having a shower helps me visualise washing away the anger. It’s about washing away the past and taking a new step forward.
  • I listen to rock music like Linkin Park. It helps me shake my anger out.

Managing your anger long-term

When you’re in a calm headspace, that’s a good time to think about how to manage your anger next time. Here are some things to think about.

When you start to get angry, you can feel it in your body. You might notice your heart beating faster and your breathing speeding up. Or perhaps your body tenses up, like clenching your jaw or your fists.

It can be tough to focus your attention on your body in the heat of the moment, but spotting those signs early gives you a chance to react differently before things escalate.

When you know what’s triggering your anger, it’s easier to find ways of coping. Think about the last time you got angry. What happened? Was it something someone said or did? How did you act in the moment? How did you feel afterwards?

Once you have a better idea of what’s causing your anger, you can think about how to change your reaction. Try preparing for how you want to react for when it happens again. You could practise your reaction with a friend or family member, or write down what you plan to say.

Sometimes you can think you’re angry about one thing, but your anger is really being caused by something bigger. For example, your sibling always slamming the door might be what makes you angry in the moment, but deep down, you're really upset that you don't spend as much time together anymore.

Digging beneath the surface helps you address the real issues behind your anger. Then you can talk through how you’re feeling in a calm way that helps other people understand.

If someone else’s actions are what’s making you feel angry, it can help to try and understand why they’re behaving like that. Often people behave in difficult ways because they’re going through something tough themselves. If you feel you can, try talking to the person about it. Really listen to what they have to say and try your best to understand their point of view.

A young person smiling at their friends.
For years I suppressed my anger toward someone who had hurt me and my family. The aftermath of what they caused was so difficult for me and my family to deal with, the thought of someone telling me to try and forgive them made my blood boil. Why should I forgive them? Why should they just get away with it? Having a passive voice, I never said anything. Instead I pushed my feelings towards the pit of my stomach and hoped I’d soon get over it.

Getting help for anger

If you feel angry all the time and you’re finding it hard to control your behaviour, it’s a good idea to get help. Here are some ways you can get support, and the treatment you might be given.

Changing your behaviour is tough, but you don’t have to do it alone. Talking about how you feel can help to understand your behaviour, find ways to cope and feel less angry in the future. If you don’t want to talk to someone you know, there are helplines you can contact.

If anger is affecting your day-to-day life and you need help finding ways of coping, speak to your GP. They can refer you to a specialist who can help. If you’re under 18, they’ll refer you to child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) for support.

Get more on advice on how to speak to your GP

Talking therapies and counselling is when you talk about your problems with a trained professional. They can help you find the root of your anger and ways to manage it.

The most common type of therapy for anger is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). This type of therapy looks at your thoughts, feelings and behaviours, and teaches you the skills to change negative patterns.

Find out more about counselling and therapy

Your GP might refer you to a local anger management programme. These are courses where you receive counselling and therapy either one-to-one or in a small group.

Courses can be one day, one weekend, or over a couple of months.

Supporting someone experiencing anger

If someone you know is having problems with anger, this can be tough. Especially if their anger is ever directed at you. Below are some things you can do to support them while also looking after yourself.

If you’re a parent or carer and need support for a child dealing with anger, take a look at our parent guide.

In the heat of the moment, try to keep calm. It’s tough, but it can really make a difference in stopping their anger from spiralling out of control. If things do feel like they’re spiralling, or you find yourself getting angry too, try giving them some space by going to another room or spending some time apart.

It's not always easy, but showing that you're there to listen without passing judgement can go a long way. Let them know you're really hearing what they're saying, and resist the urge to jump to conclusions. When people feel heard, they’re more likely to listen in return. And sometimes just letting them express their anger can be enough to help them calm down.

When they’re feeling calm, try setting some boundaries together. Let them know what behaviours are not okay for you, and come up with a plan for when they cross that line. You shouldn’t have to put up with anything that makes you feel unsafe.

When they’re feeling calm, encourage them to get support for their anger. You could suggest they see their GP or let them know about the helplines they can contact.

Get help now

Here are some organisations and helpline services that can support you with what you're going through.

  • Childline

    If you’re under 19 you can confidentially call, chat online or email about any problem big or small.

    Sign up for a free Childline locker (real name or email address not needed) to use their free 1-2-1 counsellor chat and email support service.

    Can provide a BSL interpreter if you are deaf or hearing-impaired.

    Hosts online message boards where you can share your experiences, have fun and get support from other young people in similar situations.

    Opening times:
  • Youth Access

    Provides information about local counselling and advice services for young people aged 11-25.

    Put in your location and what you need help with into their 'Find help' search, and see what services are available in your area.

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