What are your top tips for managing anger?

Hi everyone,

Problems with managing anger are really common after brain injury, and it can put a strain on various aspects of life, such as daily activities and relationships.

Do you have any tips for managing anger that you'd like to share?

Whether you're a brain injury survivor or a carer for someone with a brain injury, we're keen to find out what strategies you find the most useful. Post your replies below!

- headwayuk

17 Replies

  • This is a big problem for me and is having big negative impact on my life and those around me. I haven't managed to be seen by any professional to help me with strategies to manage.

  • Hi StrawberryCream,

    I'm really sorry to hear that this is a big problem for you. Please remember that you can call the Headway helpline if you would like to talk things through. The helpline number is 0808 800 2244.

    We also have our booklet on Managing Anger, which contains tips for coping with this issue. You can download this for free from the Headway website at headway.org.uk/media/3994/m... .

    Alternatively, you can contact the helpline to receive a free copy of it.

  • Thanks. I already have a copy of the booklet. I do recognise a lot of the time when I am getting angry and will say so. But ..... I am single parenting a now 10 yr old and because of his own early history and traumas he won't back off, will follow me and continue to provoke me til he gets an anger reaction.

  • Hi guys. Pre BI I'd take on a difference of opinion with endless patience and good humour. My sense of humour is still intact but no longer counteracts the rush of indignation I now get when faced with opposing ideas or criticism.

    I've learned, after a couple of years of frequently 'losing it', that I have to close my mouth and walk away as soon as my humour deserts me. It is frustrating though as it means I can't enjoy a good debate and I just end up seething in private.

    But it is what it is, and at least my poor short term memory makes the whole issue disappear fairly quickly ! Forgetfulness is a great healer of emotional blips.

    Best wishes, Cat.

  • sounds Very familiar to my self Pre and Post BI. My memory more reliable tho x

  • I have learned to recognise the burning brain sensation of anger. Take myself out of the situation, sit and drink from the bottle of water I always have to hand.

    If this fails to reduce the anger I demand my husband gives me something to destroy. This is from a stash we have built up of things that would have otherwise gone to the tip. Eg deceased toaster, kettle or computer bits. The energy released not only calms me but makes it possible for me to start to be reasonable.

  • Hi,

    I don't get angry a lot. Basically it's not necessary to get angry. I probably got a little more angry pre BI but not as much now.

    I do get annoyed with things, I should think everyone does.

    I think I channel most of my anger/annoyances.

    When I think about my life I get annoyed because it is not like most other people's lives but then I would to add a bit of positivity to it and say that most other people have not got brain injuries and for me, I find it is a little different to be affected by BI at a young age.

    Some people could be born with a BI, most people I know were affected by BI once they had grown up. But how about people who started life as a regular person and then were affected by BI when they were 11, almost 12. For me, that is a bit different.

    Anyhow, to answer your question, if I get annoyed to some extreme I might look the other way and bite my lip or something. Take a deep breath maybe.

    Take care,


  • I get angry a lot, it's an enhanced version of how I was pre-BI, and I've had to re-adapt my coping strategies, because there's always that niggle at the back of my mind, the worry that someone might deem me incapable if I actually throw the bubbling tantrum when someone chews with their mouth open, or stands too close to me. (Or a million other things that don't bother 'other' people.)

    Immediately after the haemorrhage, I was an absolute nightmare, I spent a couple of months in that state similar to barking your shin on the corner of the coffee table, and just wanting to throw it out of the window. (The coffee table has always been 'there', it didn't ask you to walk into it, don't blame the coffee table.)

    Going back to work six weeks post-surgery helped me to learn to cope with the anger, you CAN'T shove your colleague off their chair because they're slurping their tea, and other people will have (loud) conversations about things that don't interest you while you're trying to fit a whole day's work into half a day, because you're on a 'phased return'.

    I had two sessions with a neuro-psychologist roughly a year after the original rupture, and he gently pointed out that 'leaving the room' WAS a 'behaviour', albeit something of a diffusion-strategy at the same time, grown-ups can't just dash out of the room 17 times a day, that's what teenagers do. I had to re-model my coping strategy, because 'leaving the room' was, at best, an avoidance tactic.

    I'm much more settled now. I do still find myself becoming incredibly angry about things that, on reflection, don't deserve that level of emotional input, but I'm learning to deal with it increasingly well. The initial tactic, after 'leave the room, and wait for a trusted colleague to quietly knock on the store-cupboard door, to check if I'm ready to come out yet', was 'Can I change it?'. If the light is bothering me, I can turn it off, I can't turn-off colleagues' over-loud conversations about shopping, or shoes, or hair-dos, but I can find something productive to do in another part of the building. (I don't feel entitled to ask them to stop squawking while I'm trying to work.)

    Building on top of that was my revelation that this is 'my problem', other people WILL try to engage me in conversations about stuff I see as completely pointless, and they WILL try to get me to join in with stuff, because they don't grasp that I am perfectly happy left to my own devices. That's not a failing in them, when they ask me for the nine millionth time if I want to go to the pub/a barbecue/bowling/bungee-jumping/whatever, they just want to 'include' me. The bubble-up rage is still there, and my first-impulse thought is usually "Hell, no, I see enough of your stupid face at work, why would I want to give you my own time?", but I can calmly and quietly say "No, thank you.", because the aversion to noise, and crowds, and funny smells is MY problem, not theirs.

    Long, and waffling post, I don't talk much, but I do type a lot. In essence, what helps me, is to stop and think before I react, not so much 'count to ten', as 'take a breath', when something provokes my usually-irrational anger, I stop, I make myself still, and ask myself what it is that I'm angry about. Seven times out of ten, it's my skewed perspective, my problem, and I can just shelve it and move on. Three times out of ten, I'll remember I 'need' to borrow a stapler from another office, the walk helps me to process a suitable response.

  • Yep suffer from anger issues. Not as bad as the years go on, think I seem to be handling it better now.

    I found the trick, although sounds simple, is recognising the anger in the first place before you blow up. Yes its harder than it sounds but it then gives you chance to do something about it.

    The issue mainly is due to frustration rather than plain anger. This can take on several forms from frustration to not being able to remember something to not being able to do something you feel you can manage.

    How have I coped ? Basically recognising the problem, like I said not so easy, oh and learning to count to ten.........even twenty when needed.

    i am pleased I no longer seem to suffer anger outbursts that seem to have no trigger or reason behind them. looking back these may have been caused by my adjusting to the " new me". These are frightening for all around and like I say I am glad they have gone.

    So do i get angry ......yes . Is it more than "normal"........oh yes, but basically it is mainly due to frustration.

    Then again isn't anger mainly triggered by frustration in anyone, frustration at not being in control anymore or things not going how you wished them to go????


  • Sometimes it's a build up and the smallest thing can be the final straw!!

    Mostly I'm fairly good and I try to rationalise everything. No. 1 rule, I'm alive, I'm breathing.

    Take time out. Use any relaxation apps you may have on your phones if at work always take regular breaks (I don't practice what I preach but I do try!)

    If I do snap at someone I apologise as soon as possible. However I cannot always blame it on my BI. Actually talking it over with them, they sometimes admit it was there fault or they can understand why I snapped.

    CONCLUSION: Be honest with yourself and those around you.

  • I'm sad to say I can go from placid to raging in about 10 seconds. The symptoms are overwhelming; my mind shuts down to everything but rage (it's as though i literally see fog in my mind), my heart pounds, top of arms go numb & my hands shake. I also become very tearful & shout. Worst of all even a brief episode like this wipes me out for hours, total & instant fatigue take over. I may even need bed rest the following day. Does anyone else have similar experiences to this? I'm not proud that this is now part of me. xx

  • Yes Connie, this sounds very familiar to me, however ..... I think that you are doing incredibly well to keep the rage in check for 10 seconds. I think mine is 2 secs to go from 0 nice lady, to the count of 2 to start a meltdown. It actually feels like the inside of my head is constricting. And the more someone carries on speaking the more I shout over them, talk about red mist!! It is born of frustration, and I dont know its happening until I am in it. My solution is to try to avoid people, but been told no no, you have to expose yourself to people so you can learn how to control it, ...erm, not safe I would say. Yes, absolutely wiped out, shut down afterwards, and yes often the next day is in bed, sometimes takes until day 3 to brave it back out of there. I'm not proud either, I know that it is NOT going to endear anyone to me. If i were on the receiving end of it, my sympathy would stop right in its tracks. An exceptionally difficult thing to have to constantly apologise come day 3!

  • trishy63 Thank you so much for your open & honest words. As always, I am bowled over whenever anyone replies to me in this space. It doesn't make me feel better knowing others experience similar issues to me, it saddens me that others are suffering. I also avoid people & hardly ever leave the house alone. I used to work in customer service & I learnt that most customers value honesty & integrity above all else, talking to them from a scripted / corporate handbook is impersonal & quite insulting. Whenever I receive substandard service I feel the red mist descending, I can't abide being lied to or fobbed off especially when just telling me the truth would be better. It is commendable you apologise to people following an outburst, it may feel awkward at the time, but it's nice to strong enough to do so.

    Best wishes

    CC xx

  • When I get angry, I either try and walk away from the situation and calm down if Im in meltdown mode or I try and calmly talk thought the issue to try and resolve it and take control back (which feels so good and gives off so much relief)

  • I wish I had that self control, I think your methods are what I strive for in the future. I do try to keep calm & I am already using relaxation techniques, I find colouring books quite soothing (provided the images aren't too busy or heavily patterned).

    CC xx

  • I like colouring books when the mood strike me I also listen to music when Im upset , it called distractive therapy

  • I have certain artists & songs I listen to & which I turn to in an attempt to calm myself, I didn't realise this constituted a therapy :-)

    At the moment my calm myself song is Forest Fire by Lloyd Cole & The Commotions, or, Sinner by Neil Finn

    My go to cheer me up song is When You Come by Crowded House, never fails!

    Do you have a playlist to help you?

    Best wishes

    CC xx

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