Originally created 01/26/99

Age old questions



Q: I get angry a lot. How can I release my anger without hurting others? -- K.R., Crawfordville, Ga.

A:Everyone gets angry. It's a matter of dealing with anger in a positive way that makes a difference. People who tend to hold in their anger can endanger their health. A recent study in Psychosomatic Medicine found that holding in anger can lead to hardening of the arteries and even more serious problems, including heart attacks and strokes.

Not only does being angry endanger your health, so does being hostile and feeling overly self-conscious in public. Anger can show itself in many ways, from yelling and throwing things to sulking, nagging and crying. These outward demonstrations of anger signal underlying fears, worries or disappointments.

It's important to learn how to deal with anger in a positive way. Don Powell's book, 365 Practical Ways to Feel Better and Live Longer, offers ways to manage your anger and turn the energy into productivity.

Try counting to 10, very slowly, each time you feel angry. Breathe deeply and concentrate. Even if this does not make you feel completely relaxed, it may at least help you forget what made you so angry.

Another way to deal with anger is to walk it out. Organized activities with friends or even short strolls alone can help release anger. Your extra energy can help you get a great workout, and your workout can help you release that negative energy.

Don't resort to petty shows of anger. Resist the urge to throw a tantrum or slam doors.

Don't let situations that are beyond your control get the best of you. If you are stuck in traffic, beating on the horn will only make your blood pressure go up. Try to relax instead. Look at that time as an opportunity to have some time alone. Tune the radio to some pleasant music and take some time to reflect, meditate or pray.

Often, the root of the problem is that we don't know how to communicate our negative feelings before they get the best of us. Men are especially at risk. Scientific studies have shown that men who are unable to express anger increase their risk for heart disease up to 75 percent.

Women tend to place themselves at risk by holding in emotions until the point of absolute frustration in hopes of not offending others. This pattern raises the risk of serious coronary disease.

Try to discuss your feelings calmly with those around you. Ask them to help you confront your anger. Remember that you are in control of your emotions, not vice versa.

If you have a question or would like additional information, please write to Shirley McIntosh, Resource Center on Aging, 2803 Wrightsboro Road, Suite 51, Augusta, GA 30909.