We’ve known that a chronic hot temper isn’t good for anyone, but it’s now been confirmed once again. Harvard researchers recently reviewed evidence of studies done between 1966 and 2013 that examined the link between anger and cardiovascular risk. After thorough analysis, they have concluded that within 2 hours after an angry outburst, the individual has 5 times the chance of having a heart attack and 3 times the risk of stroke. Researchers speculate that this is because the stress the emotions cause trigger the body to increase heart rate and blood pressure; incite sweat glands to start pumping and alter normal breathing patterns. Without a doubt, not only does anger provoke changes in your state of mind, but also in your physical wellness.
Some people think that this explosive anger makes them feel better. If I scream, yell and throw things, I’ll get it out of my system and then relax. However, in actuality, if your body is continuously pushed into this “fight or flight” response, it will eventually break down in some way resulting in insomnia, hypertension, gastrointestinal issues, and a compromised immune response. Not only this but it can lead to other negative emotions like depression, bitterness and futility. In the long-run this continued response breaks down relationships, can cause trouble at work or prevent you from holding down a stable job, and can even turn to violence.
The bottom line is that life is just too short to live with uncontrolled anger. So the question becomes “Is this reactive, hostile behavior working for you?” If the answer is no, then now is the time to gain control by learning preventative tools to help manage your anger. Instead of letting your rage and hostility build up inside, or taking it out on those around you, you can gain control in a few different ways. It’s always helpful to have a support network to lean on like a friend or therapist to talk to, you can learn breathing techniques for calming purposes, make sure to get regular exercise to help release tension, try to get enough sleep (7-8 hours per night), and change your attitude. The way that you look at things and talk to yourself in your mind greatly influences your level of anger.
Changing negative thought patterns as part of learning new anger control skills can be challenging and will take time. When you notice that your self-talk is bringing you down, look for ways to creatively come up with a solution to the problem. For example, instead of getting angry with your boss and yourself because you won’t have enough time to finish a project, look for responsible ways to clear your schedule until it is completed. Look for a solution to the problem instead of wasting time just fuming about it. Even if positive thinking doesn’t come naturally, you can make a conscious effort to redirect your negativity and put your energy into finding solutions rather than dwelling on the problems.
In the end you will find that utilizing basic anger management skills will help you to improve your health by lowering your stress level, your risk of heart attack, ulcers and hypertension. We all know that difficult situations happen in life, but constantly responding with anger only makes it worse. Opening your mind to ways you can improve things will lead you on a healthier and happier path.