Everyone has situations that make them angry. But for the sake of one’s health, it’s worth investigating ways to deal with this powerful and potentially destructive emotion. Consider the following scenario for a moment: It’s Monday morning and you’re late for work. Your little girl can’t find her shoes and, as usual, your son is playing with his food at the table. You can feel it start in the pit of your stomach—that familiar feeling of frustration beginning to bubble within you. If you don’t do something quickly it will soon turn into a full-blown scream-fest—it always does—where your children end up crying and you go to work angry with the world.
Most of us can relate to the above fictional story. It’s happened to all of us. Is there really a way to get angry without all the damaging health effects? Research shows that both ends of the anger continuum—unchecked ire and self-silencing—can damage your health, contributing to a range of health conditions. Strike a more balanced approach with these tips.
Take a step back. When you feel upset, take note of how you react. Do you tend to make excuses, feel depressed, begin feeling sorry for yourself? Look carefully at the situation before you rush to judgment or blow up.
Know when to walk away. Nothing productive ever happens when you can’t contain your hostility. Leave the interchange immediately and come back when you are feeling less explosive.
Allow yourself to feel. Sometimes feelings just are—whether wrong or right. One should explore what exactly is causing the bad feelings. Are you really mad at your children, or are you just reacting to your bad day at work? And are you really angry about work, or did it all begin with the rude person who cut you off while driving there? Start journaling—you may discover the real reasons behind your resentment and hostility.
Use it wisely. Don’t use anger as raw fuel to ignite arguments with people you love or work with. Use your anger to plan your next steps. For instance, if you watch television late into the night, then feel miserable all the next day, plan to go to bed earlier. You’ll probably notice a huge difference in your attitude and productivity.
Express yourself. Holding anger inside is just as destructive as blowing up. Take a few deep breaths. Pray about it, then go to the person you are having the conflict with. Remain calm and let the person know you care about the relationship but need to express some feelings.
So let’s put a happier spin on the story at the beginning of this article: Since you know how hectic mornings are at your house, you help your daughter pick out her entire school outfit, including shoes, the night before. You also talk to your son about his habit of playing with his food, and warn him that punishment will result if it happens again. You had also set the alarm 15 minutes earlier the night before. Everyone is happy. No one is crying this morning...ah, that’s better!