How to keep anger from getting the better of you

April 16, 2018

(HealthDay)—Anger isn't just an emotional reaction—it can affect you physically, too.

It's been shown to raise your risk for and other problems related to stress—like sleep trouble, digestion woes and headaches.

That makes it important, then, to diffuse your anger. Start by figuring out what it is that makes you angry.

Researchers from George Mason University, in Virginia, studied just that, and identified five common triggers:

  • Other people.
  • Distress—psychological and physical.
  • Demands you put on yourself.
  • Your environment.
  • Unknown sources.

Anger was more intense, the investigators found, when people were provoked by issues with other people or by influences that couldn't be pinpointed.

Once you've identified the sources of your anger, take steps to change how your deal with it, the researchers suggested.

Decades ago, people often were encouraged to let their anger out. Primal screams and pounding pillows were suggested tactics. Today? Not so much.

Studies have shown that therapies that involve letting anger out in a rage don't really help. They might even make you more angry.

Still, it's important to not keep anger bottled up. But, managing it can keep you from saying or doing things you might regret once the anger has passed.

What to do?

Start by becoming a calmer person in general. Practice a every day—yoga or , for instance.

Also develop an anger strategy that you can draw on when you're in the moment. The idea is to interrupt your response to anger before it gets out of hand and to have a menu of healthier ways to express your feelings.

Tactics like time-outs, deep breathing and self-talk can help you calm down and think before acting. Longer-term, reducing your stress level and building empathy skills can help.

If you're arguing with someone, anger can be like earplugs. It keeps you from hearing what the other person is saying and finding middle ground. So instead of acting defensive and trading barbs, hit the pause button.

Ask the person to repeat what was said. Then reflect on it before you speak again. Try to figure out the real reason for the argument.

This lets you channel the energy of anger into finding a solution.

When you're in a situation you can't fix—like being stuck in traffic on your way to an appointment—use your rational mind to put the situation in perspective. It's inconvenient, but more than likely won't affect your well-being long-term.

If you find that you're angry at forces you can't identify, consider talking to a mental health therapist. Working together should help you uncover the root of your unhappiness and .

Explore further: How to understand and harness your workplace rage

More information: The U.S. National Library of Medicine has information on anger management.

Related Stories

How to understand and harness your workplace rage

January 23, 2018
As you're sitting there, about to throw an office chair, your temperature and heart rate rising, know that it isn't all in vain.

A little anger in negotiation pays

March 16, 2018
During negotiations, high-intensity anger elicits smaller concessions than moderate-intensity anger, according to a new study by management and business experts at Rice University and Northwestern University.

Summer heats up our emotions, too

June 28, 2016
Emotions can heat up when it is hot outside, says University of Alabama at Birmingham psychologist Josh Klapow, Ph.D. Numerous studies have shown heat is related to increased aggressive/violent behavior.

Why 'rage rooms' won't solve your anger issues

August 17, 2017
Rage rooms—where stressed out people go to relieve tension by smashing furniture, housewares, and electronics with baseball bats, crowbars, and sledgehammers—have become a global phenomenon. But taking out your frustration ...

Race influences how anger impacts cardiovascular health

July 15, 2016
Hostility and anger have been shown to be bad for us, particularly for our cardiovascular health, but a new University of Michigan study finds that it may not be an equal threat across all groups.

Recommended for you

Beauty is simpler, and less special, than we realize

August 20, 2018
Beauty, long studied by philosophers, and more recently by scientists, is simpler than we might think, New York University psychology researchers have concluded in a new analysis. Their work, which appears in the journal ...

Bilingual children who speak native language at home have higher intelligence

August 20, 2018
Children who regularly use their native language at home while growing up in a different country have higher IQs, a new study has shown.

People are more honest when using a foreign tongue, research finds

August 17, 2018
New UChicago-led research suggests that someone who speaks in a foreign language is probably more credible than the average native speaker.

FDA approves brain stimulation device for OCD

August 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—A brain stimulation device to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) has received approval for marketing Friday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Research eyes role of stress in mental illnesses

August 17, 2018
We all face stress in our lives. Even researchers seeking to understand why some people shrug it off while others face battles against disorders like depression or PTSD.

16 going on 66: Will you be the same person 50 years from now?

August 17, 2018
How much do you change between high school and retirement? The answer depends on whether you're comparing yourself to others or to your younger self.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.