Often thought of as a hippy-dippy practice aimed at transcendence, meditation is coming into its own as a stress-reduction technique for even the most type-A kind of people.
In 2005, for instance, severe chest pains sent Michael Mitchell to the emergency room in fear of a heart attack. It turned out to be gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. Nevertheless, after checking his heart, the doctor admitted him and chastised him for not coming in sooner. “That really shook me up. It was a wake-up...
Some people have trouble turning it off or dealing with it the right way, though. Chronic, ongoing anger can tear down your relationships, job, social life, reputation -- even your health.
“Anger itself is neither good nor bad,” explains Mitch Abrams, PhD, an anger management expert and psychiatry professor at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School at Rutgers University.
Low to moderate anger can even work for good, prompting you to right wrongs and make improvements.
But it also kicks your body's natural defenses into overdrive. When you sense a threat, your nervous system releases powerful chemicals that prepare you to fight, run, and stay alive. Your heart rate and breathing quicken. Your blood pressure rises, muscles tense, and you perspire.
The rapid anger response also amps up your brain. On one hand, it helps you quickly know a potential threat. On the other, it can push you to make rash decisions in the heat of the moment. It's no surprise anger is linked to accidents and risky activities like smoking, gambling, drinking, and overeating. Anger also plays a role in depression. Also, studies suggest that holding it inside may be just as unhealthy as blowing up.
At the least, unchecked anger can hold off the people you need the most. Worse, it can turn into aggression or violence.
“Nobody ever gets into trouble for feeling angry,” Abrams stresses. “But people sometimes get into trouble for what they do when they feel angry.”