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Categories > Mental and Emotional Health > Self-improvement

Keeping your cool

Are you the angry type who constantly erupts like a volcano or do you keep rage all bottled up inside? Neither is the best way to cope with conflict, and both may, in the long run, affect your health.

Of course, losing your cool once in a while isn’t harmful, but walking around all the time in a snit may eventually take a physical and emotional toll. That’s because chronic stress raises blood pressure and heart rate and constricts blood vessels, all of which contribute to heart disease. People who anger easily also are more likely to have a heart attack.

But learning how to control one’s temper doesn’t mean being the strong, silent type. On the other hand, becoming comfortable in expressing your dismay is not an invitation to “tell off” the world. The key: finding a middle ground that allows you to get a hold of anger before it takes control of your health.

Next time you’re about to fly off the handle, these tips can help you get a grip:

  • Run for cover. Find a peaceful place to calm down, then talk to someone you trust and respect. That person may be able to give you an objective point of view and help identify better ways to express your anger to the person who has incurred your wrath.
  • Have a face-to-face. When you’re calm, have a talk with the person who made you mad. This is a must if that person is your spouse, child or boss or some other individual very important to your overall happiness. During your discussion, try to avoid attacking; share your feelings and work toward a peaceful resolution.
  • Scratch the surface. What’s underlying your negative responses? It may help to keep a journal to try and uncover these patterns. A therapist also can help guide you in this journey of self-discovery.
  • Look for an outlet. Exercise, take up a hobby or contribute to a cause you believe in. You might also consider getting a pet (bearing in mind that animals require effort and also a calm, humane, loving environment). These are all ways to express yourself and turn anger into positive action.
  • Forget about it. Often, it’s not worth making a stink or holding a grudge over something. Once you’re aware of your anger, ask yourself how important it is in the grand scheme of things. If it ranks low, let go.