09:08 Wednesday 05 December 2012

Keeping a lid on it

Written byHeart Research UK

Do you find yourself blowing a fuse now and again as your anger builds up? The frustrations of work, busy schedules, traffic, queue jumpers, annoying relatives are just some of the things that can make our blood boil and, depending on our personality type, we may find it particularly challenging to keep the lid on our anger.  

Research suggests that anger and hostility are linked to an increased risk of heart disease, not only in healthy individuals but also making a further cardiac event more likely in cardiac patients. National Anger Awareness Week runs from 1-7 December and is a great time to take stock, identify any angry behaviour pattern, stressors and learn to re-programme any tendency to boil over.

  • Don’t stew on it - recognise the negative effect your anger is having on both you and those around you.  Talk to someone about your feelings or pour them out in writing or by painting. Learning to listen and avoiding getting trapped in recurring escalating conversations are valuable skills worth practicing too.

  • Take it on the chin - don’t blame others for your anger; work out how to control it better and channel those negative emotions into something more positive and better for you like some non-competitive exercise, housework or cleaning the car.

  • If you’re feeling particularly ‘worked up’, concentrate on your breathing - inhaling slowly through your nose.  Count to a particular number before you speak, picture yourself in a different place or take yourself back to a happy memory where you were calm and collected or laughing your head off.  Through regular practice you’ll be able to enter your calm zone sooner the next time you feel provoked.

  • Sometimes our behaviour patterns need a bit of outside help to steer clear of that pressure-cooker feeling. Visit the British Association of Anger Management www.beatinganger.com for some great tips to ‘Keep your cool this Yule’ and throughout the rest of the year .

Angry thoughts and emotions can easily brew up when we’re tired and under-pressure, but like unhealthy lifestyle habits such as smoking or eating unhealthily, it’s up to us to take control and find ways to stop the sparks flaring up.  Everyone gets angry, we just need to retrain ourselves to keep a lid on it so the next time someone jumps a queue or a family reunion gets a bit fraught, we’ll cool as a cucumber safe in the knowledge that our heart is better off for it.

For more information and advice about healthy living, contact Heart Research UK via email lifestyle@heartresearch.org.uk

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