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When Anger Flares, Find an Answer

By Sandy Schroeder

Everybody gets mad sometimes. Repeated frustrations, small annoyances, and deliberate thwarting can all push us too far. Not surprising, we might lash out or retaliate.

But anger that takes hold and becomes an ongoing fixture in our lives is different, and dangerous. Not only do we feel foolish when it goes too far, but it can even threaten our health. Researchers say anger can be a stress threat to the heart.

The Danger of Anger

I know a woman who had heart issues and became so angry that she probably triggered a heart attack. One morning she was sitting in her kitchen, fuming over a relative’s deliberate actions. Suddenly she felt something like hot oil on her head, and she was headed to ER. They confirmed she was having a heart attack.

Take a minute and think about your anger. Why do you feel so angry? What sets it off?  When did it become so dominant?

As you work on the problem, here are a few ways to channel the anger.

Find A Good Release – Some people resort to extreme sports, such as martial arts or boxing, to let the anger go. Others head out for a long run, or step away and turn up the music. Whatever works to defuse the situation can be a good start.

Switch Moods – Once you have vented, you might want to look for a refuge. Think of the things that make you feel happy, alive and productive, and start spending some time there. You may enjoy jazz, sketching, or crafts such as weaving or quilt-making. Or you may love getting together with friends for coffee, pizza or tacos. The more time you spend mellowing out the more your anger may recede.

Talk It Out – Reaching out to the people who know you best, to spend time talking about the problem, may help. You may find they have experienced similar anger, or have good methods for letting it go. But mostly, just knowing your friends are there for you; sometimes, simply voicing the problem can be a help.

Start Over – Make an effort to avoid the situations that set off your anger, or talk through them with the people involved. As you talk, you may gain new insight into the other person’s viewpoint, or figure out why you became so angry. 

Whatever you learn, don’t give up. If anger flares again, step away and vent. If it still persists, ask your doctor for a referral to talk with a counselor to find out if there are more underlying causes. Over time, you may find you can loosen the grip of anger and establish good ways to keep it in check.

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