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What happens to you when you get really, really angry? Physically your heart rate might speed up as you go into that “fight or flight” mode, you might start to sweat and/or become red in the face, clench your teeth as your blood pressure soars. Your brain goes into survival mode and you start to lose it. Emotionally, you might lose your ability to see the other person’s perspective, lose all objectivity and any remnants of good judgment. Reacting during this angry moment is when most people get themselves into trouble. They explode and say things that are hurtful, mean and that they may not even truly believe. Or, even worse, physically assault someone. It’s just not a sound way to live your life.

First of all, chronically reacting in an angry way to obstacles or frustrating situations is unhealthy. Over time it can lead to a variety of health issues like headaches, insomnia, digestive problems, heart attack and stroke. It can also lead to feelings of depression, bitterness, futility and sadness. As the behavior escalates, you may feel lonely and isolated as others start to avoid your negativity and wrath.

So instead of ruining close relationships, hurting your chances for promotion at work or even getting involved with the law, consider that you can learn to understand your behavior and utilize new ways to manage your anger. Change is good and there’s no time better than the present. It’s okay to be angry, but thinking before you act and trying one of the following tips for reducing stress and calming down can be extremely helpful:

1. Don’t act on your first impulse. Resist all feelings of lashing out and give your anger some time to subside. This will allow you to gain composure and respond more effectively.

2. Walk away. Get yourself out of the situation in a respectful way but saying that you would like to talk about the situation at a later date when you have both had time to think about the situation.

3. Count to ten or visualize a peaceful scene. Both tools take your mind off the immediate scene to help you calm down in the moment.

4. Pick and choose your battles wisely. Avoid pointless arguments. Your time and energy is too valuable.

5. Set limits. Realize that you can’t effectively accomplish everything that everyone asks of you. Stress and anger are often caused when we have too many demands on us. Learn to say no in a respectful, friendly but firm way. Take care of yourself by being honest and not taking on extra-curricular projects that you find draining and don’t want to do.

6. Spend time developing strong emotional connections. Research shows that this support and attention can help your blood pressure drop and help you develop a more positive outlook.

7. Look to make changes. If possible, look for a more satisfying job, take some time off to regroup, get involved with a different group of people who are a more positive influence.

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