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7 Tips to Neutralize Anger & Slow Stress-Related Aging

The research on anger is very clear and quite disturbing: anger increases the risk of heart attack by 230 percent!

Stress will age you, and it affects your ability to cope, which can trigger anger. Elevated cortisol, a hormone related to chronic stress, is known to cause osteoporosis, midline weight gain, memory loss, cognitive decline and decreased skin elasticity – conditions usually associated with aging. Acute stress can have devastating and more immediate consequences. It affects our physical, mental and emotional well-being.

Stress triggers more than 1,400 chemical reactions in your body that lead to measurable changes like an increase in blood pressure and heart rate – and stickier, clot-prone blood. As a young resident, I volunteered to work in the emergency room on any night except Monday, because that night had a stream of patients with chest pain, heart failure and other complaints. I finally connected the increase in these crises to Monday Night Football, when I began to understand the impact of stress. In the month following September 11, 2001, the number of heart attack patients increased by 35 percent at a hospital four miles from the World Trade Center.

The terms “hothead” or “their blood was boiling” describe angry people. Now, apply these metaphors to what is happening in our bodies: high blood pressure, racing heart, constricted blood vessels –all the ingredients for a heart attack or stroke. You may not think of yourself as an angry person, since angry people rarely do, but I suggest asking your spouse or co-workers what they think. If they tell you “yes,” then you may be a bit on the angry side at times when you perceive demands being too much to handle.

Here’s what you can do to head off anger:

  • Don’t say “yes” when you really mean “no.” Adding more to a full plate can be a trigger, whether it’s too much to do, or that you acquiesce too easily and often with requests.
  • Avoid Caffeine. It can “shorten your fuse.”
  • Keep blood sugar levels stable. Eat small healthy snacks throughout the day. Low blood sugar leads to irritability.
  • Get plenty of sleep. Poor sleep can affect memory, judgment and mood among others.
  • Practice meditation or daily prayer. Try calming your mind by repeating a mantra that can be from a spiritual practice or simply a phrase such as “all is well; I am loved.”
  • Spend time in nature. Being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anger, fear, and stress while increasing pleasant feelings.
  • Recognize triggers for anger. Put a plan into place. Be prepared to neutralize an outburst or stop one from rising with your increased awareness of your triggers.


Learn more:

Saying “no” (kindly) then letting go: https://psychcentral.com/lib/saying-no-kindly-and-then-letting-go/

Caffeine, stress and your health: https://www.verywell.com/caffeine-stress-and-your-health-3145078

Is there a blood sugar monster lurking within you?: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/inner-source/201311/is-there-blood-sugar-monster-lurking-within-you

Stress and sleep: https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2013/sleep.aspx

How does nature impact our wellbeing?: https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/enhance-your-wellbeing/environment/nature-and-us/how-does-nature-impact-our-wellbeing

A heart to heart talk with Dr. Mimi Guarneri: https://pacificpearllajolla.com/a-heart-to-heart-talk-with-dr-mimi-guarneri-on-guideposts-and-mysterious-ways-magazine/