Anger: Don't Put a Lid on It
Anger is a natural emotion. But when anger is mismanaged or hidden, it can cause health problems. Dealing with anger starts with not letting small annoyances build up to a raging fury.
Most of us have been taught that anger is a bad thing, and that people who express anger are somehow out of control. Experts say, however, that anger is no different than
Anger management is vital to your health because the chemicals released in your body during a temper tantrum are dangerous to your cardiac health..
Men and women who lash out in anger learned that response at home. They are also more likely to raise children who use violence when their anger goes unchecked.
Advice for Coping With Anger
Turn on the Waterworks
"Cry," says Dr. Sinatra. "Men and women who cry develop less heart disease. Tears are the best remedy for detoxifying the body of hostility and excess anger."
Deal With the Little Things
Dr. Glazer often tells his anger management patients to keep notes on minor irritants and low-level annoyances that cause them to do a slow burn. "When you deal with little irritants as they occur, you create a little tap in your bucket that lets anger seep out, little by little," Dr. Glazer says.
The typical lists of exasperating things include snarled traffic, rude people, endless phone tag, brusque bosses, incompetent co-workers, and other seemingly trivial items.
Some people, however, have so much unresolved anger that they walk around with a virtually full bucket. So any small irritation causes them to blow their tops. Nonetheless, the great paradox in anger management is that many people think they should not express anger. We can express ourselves in ways that are not aggressive. We need to use assertive ways of expression, which basically implies we talk about our feelings and ask what we would like out of respect for the other person
Just Say No
One basic anger control technique is learning to say "no"—to set boundaries and stand by them. Other exercises may include using a louder-than-normal voice to express negativity, jutting out your jaw, and making a fist and using arm motions that strike out. But the only thing you actually hit is air or pillows.
Count It Out
Thomas Jefferson once advised when you get mad, count to ten before speaking. But he also said when you are really angry, count to one hundred. Deep breathing also often works because it can slow the heart rate and lower blood pressure.
Vent on Paper
If somebody ticks you off, many experts still advise writing a long poison-pen letter and then tossing it out.
Communication also works to clear the air when somebody pushes your buttons. Pull them aside and tell them in frank, unemotional language exactly why you are so upset. For example, "You probably didn't realize how your tardiness threw my schedule off kilter for the rest of the day."
And the next time the stranger next to you lights up a cigar, tell him exactly how his objectionable behavior makes you feel. "Do you mind? Cigar smoke gives me a headache." You'll feel better for it (and probably live longer).
American Psychological Association
Mental Health America
Canadian Mental Health Association
Canadian Psychiatric Association
Anger Management: Is there another way to express your angry feelings?. University Counseling Center website. Available at: http://gwired.gwu.edu/counsel/index.gw/Site_ID/5176/Page_ID/14131/. Accessed July 25, 2008.
Faupel A, Herrick E, Sharp P. Anger Management: A Practical Guide. London, England: David Fulton Publications; 1998.
Last reviewed June 2010 by
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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