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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

4 Ways to Cool Your Hot Temper… For Your Heart’s Sake

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by Alex Gardner

Blow your lid,

torpedo your ticker? In the 2 hours following an angry outburst, you’re almost 5 times more likely to have a heart attack, says new research from the Harvard School of Public Health. What’s more, your risk of a stroke nearly quadruples after an outburst.

The reason: When you’re enraged, your heart begins to race, your blood pressure rises, and your blood vessels become stiffer, says study author Elizabeth Mostofsky, Ph.D.  Your blood also becomes stickier and more likely to clot, upping your odds for a trip to the ER—or worse.

Feel a flip-out coming on? Try these simple tricks to keep your short fuse on a short leash.

1. Think of How Great You Are

“Imagine doing something that will make you feel more valuable—usually something compassionate or kind,” suggests Scott Stosny, Ph.D., author of Living and Loving After Betrayal. Since many people experience frustration when they feel underappreciated, picture yourself delivering food to your elderly neighbor or giving a few extra bucks to the homeless man on the corner. See? You’re awesome.

2. Crack Some Jokes

Bust out the stand-up set you’ve secretly been practicing. Self-deprecating humor may help you view the anger-inducing situation in a comedic light, says Ron Potter-Efron, Ph.D., author of Healing the Angry Brain. Laugh off the moments that make you tense. (Stuck in gridlock traffic? At least you’re getting some time away from the office.) People who can poke fun at themselves or their situations are usually far less angry, Potter-Efron says.

3. Act Like a Lawyer

If your anger is geared toward a specific person, think like his defense attorney, says Stosny. Although the culprit may be guilty of pissing you off, try to justify his actions. Visualize his good qualities and determine why he’s acting in an unacceptable way. Maybe he just received sad news about a loved one, or is struggling with an unknown illness. Finding a new perspective will shake your narrow focus on the guy who gave you grief, Stosny says.

4. Find Your Mr. Miyagi 

If you have long-term issues with anger, seek help from a counselor or psychologist. Potter-Efron even suggests finding a mentor. Your role model doesn’t have to be a wise, old karate instructor, but make sure he’s calm and has a positive attitude. The more you’re around him, the more likely you are to shed your anger and adopt his attitude, Potter-Efron says.

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