A. The solution
is to become aware of the anger and its cause, and then
learn ways to express your emotions calmly -- rather than
lashing out at the world around you. The goal isn't to
suppress your anger, but to get it out in a nonabrasive
We're now fairly sure that anger, either expressed
violently or turned inward, impacts your health negatively.
An increasing body of evidence shows that anger is a
risk factor for coronary heart disease and sudden death.
A six-year study at the University of North Carolina
characterized the anger traits of 12,986 men and women.
The results, published in the May 6, 2000 issue of "The
Lancet," found that subjects with the most anger traits
were two to seven times more likely to develop coronary
heart disease. Some people who couldn't express their
anger transformed it into physical tensions such as
headaches, stomachaches, or difficulty breathing. I
know one woman who would feel a painful tightness in
her throat whenever she needed to express an emotion
but, instead, kept it inside. Watch for these signs
and try to become aware of the emotion you may be feeling.
Anger isn't always bad -- it can be useful. I've seen
it mobilize healing responses, for example. One patient
struggling with an autoimmune disease was able to overcome
it through a complete reworking of his lifestyle and
the use of various mind-body techniques. An important
part of his recovery was becoming aware of -- and expressing
-- his anger toward doctors and hospitals.
As you become conscious of your anger, begin to distinguish
between the mildly annoying and the infuriating. With
the things that anger you most, try to figure out what
else you're feeling -- powerless? guilty? stupid? Once
you've learned to recognize anger and identify its roots,
it will be easier to express it constructively.
Psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, and spiritual counseling
may be useful in dealing with anger. Exercise is also
an excellent way to cope with strong emotions -- both
long-term and immediately. Several studies have found
that physical activities such as swimming and yoga
can ease anger and tension. Even one round of exercise
-- say, a run around the block -- can significantly
improve the way you feel.
Incorporate meditation and relaxation
techniques into your daily routine. My breathing exercise
will help you bring calmness throughout your body. Do
it at least twice a day, and try it every time you feel
anxious or upset.