Are we all getting too angry?

Maybe it's just me, but it seems that as I get older, the number of days when I get angry have increased significantly.

What am I so angry about? I know I have my health, my family, and a career I enjoy, yet I believe my anger comes from the way I handle the stress of all those things that are supposed to make me happy.

A few days ago, I reported on how anger and hostility may damage your lungs. This study, published in the medical journal Thorax, detailed the research done in 670 men between the ages of 45 to 86. Over an eight-year period, lung function was significantly poorer in individuals who had frequent episodes of anger and hostility.

What is it about anger that makes us sick? Well, the main culprit is stress. There is good and bad stress. Winning a million dollars in the lottery is good stress, but losing the ticket to claim your prize is bad stress.

Bad stress alters our immune system, which enables us to fight diseases. It also increases our blood pressure, which ultimately damages our heart and kidneys. Plus, it alters our hormones, interfering with our energy, weight, and psychological mood.

One unique characteristic about negative stress is that it builds up. I'm sure you're heard the cliché, “I've had it up to here!” Well, that is negative stress. So, how do we deal with it? Here are some tips:

• Express yourself without hurting others. Anger has to do with you. The “I” factor becomes very important when expressing your feelings — “I am angry because…” However, once you have expressed your feelings, let it go.

• Exercise for anger release. You probably have seen running marathons to raise awareness for a variety of health issues, like cancer or muscular dystrophy. Well, do the same for your mental health. If you are building up negative stress in your mind, release it while practicing some physical activity.

• Find a private spot (at home or work) to clear your mind of negative thoughts. Take a time out for 10 minutes.

• Comedy works! When I am having one of these days, I put on my favorite movie, Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, and I laugh my stress away — at least for a while.

• Finally, remember that “forgive and forget” are not just words, they are words to live a longer and healthier life.

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