Is your anger hurting you?
Odds are, yes…and in more ways than one.
It’s essential to manage anger…not only for your happiness, but for your heart.
The Problem With Anger
Research says that individuals with type A behavior (e.g., extreme sense of time urgency, competitiveness, impatience, and aggressiveness) have a twofold increase in cardiovascular disease (CVD) over non–type A individuals.
Particularly damaging to the cardiovascular system is the expression of negative emotions and anger. Greater expression of anger is associated with higher LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, and lower HDL, or “good” cholesterol.
Anger also leads to higher levels of C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation that is associated with heart disease.
And angry, negative emotions are also shown to increase stress hormones such as cortisol, which can lead to dysfunction in the lining of the arteries, high blood pressure, and excessive blood clot formation.
The bottom line? Expression of hostility and anger comes back to cause harm to the individual expressing it—as well as the victims it leaves in its wake.
Here are 10 tips to improve your coping strategies and manage anger and hostility.
How To Control Your Anger
1. Don’t starve your emotional life.
Foster meaningful relationships. Make time to give and receive love in your life. It takes time and effort to foster close connection with others—but the payoff is invaluable.
Related: The Benefits Of Friendship
2. Learn to be a good listener.
Allow the people in your life to really share their feelings and thoughts uninterrupted. Empathize with them; put yourself in their shoes.
3. Don’t try to talk over others.
If you find yourself being interrupted, relax; don’t try to outtalk the other person. If you’re courteous and allow other people to speak, eventually they will reciprocate.
If they don’t, calmly explain that they’re disrupting the back-and-forth communication process. You can do this only if you’ve been a good listener. Good listening is key if you want to manage anger.
4. Avoid aggressive or passive behavior.
Be assertive, but express your thoughts and feelings in a kind way to help improve relationships at work and at home. Avoid indirect communication. Say what you mean simply and clearly.
5. Avoid excessive stress in your life.
Try to avoid excessive work hours, poor nutrition, and inadequate rest. Get as much sleep as you can, because this will help you have more emotional resources to draw from when difficult situations arise. You’ll be less apt to snap at others or lose your patience.
6. Avoid stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine.
Stimulants tend to trigger the fight or flight response, and make people irritable in the process.
7. Take time to build long-term health and success.
8. Accept gracefully those things over which you have no control.
Save your energy for those things you can do something about. Worrying about something that could happen rarely has any effect on the outcome.
9. Accept yourself.
Remember that you’re human and will make mistakes from which you can learn along the way. Practice self-compassion and give yourself a break.
10. Be more patient and tolerant of others.
Follow the Golden Rule. If it would make you feel bad to be yelled at or criticized, don’t do it to others. Try to be positive and optimistic so others feel energized by you—not depleted.
It’s time to manage anger and hostility in your life. Being a less angry person—and being conscious, compassionate, good-natured, and patient—is not only good for your relationships at home and at work, but for your heart as well.
Michael T. Murray ND is a naturopathic physician regarded as one of the world’s top authorities on natural medicine. An educator, lecturer, researcher, and health food industry consultant, he is the author of more than 30 books, including his newest book, The Complete Book of Juicing, Revised and Updated: Your Delicious Guide to Youthful Vitality (Clarkson Potter, 2014). Readers who sign up for the Weekly Natural Facts newsletter at drmurray.com will receive a free copy of Dr. Murray’s new ebook, Stress, Anxiety and Insomnia! What the Drug Companies Won’t Tell You and Your Doctor Doesn’t Know.