‘Anger man­age­ment’ means sti­fling ex­plo­sive rage.

The Washington Post Sunday - - OUTLOOK -

Breathe deeply. Count to 10. Go for a walk. Those tricks might have helped Adam San­dler’s pro­tag­o­nist in “Anger Man­age­ment,” a man des­per­ate to sti­fle his vol­canic out­bursts. The Mayo Clinic like­wise of­fers “10 tips to tame your anger” that in­clude ex­er­cis­ing, tak­ing a time­out and us­ing hu­mor.

But the “self-si­lenc­ing” of anger has been stud­ied for decades, and it is clearly im­pli­cated in de­pres­sion, anx­i­ety, eat­ing dis­or­ders, self-harm and sui­cide. An in­abil­ity to ex­press anger also af­fects re­la­tion­ships, in­hibit­ing, for ex­am­ple, in­ti­macy. The best kind of “man­age­ment” is the kind that chan­nels feel­ings, rather than bot­tling them up. Among the best ap­proaches, ac­cord­ing to psy­chol­o­gists and re­searchers, is to write about what is mak­ing you an­gry and en­gage in con­struc­tive con­ver­sa­tions with peo­ple who can ad­dress your con­cerns and help solve prob­lems. Such meth­ods are directly tied to bet­ter health out­comes. A 2008 study of the re­la­tion­ship be­tween anger and chronic pain found that pa­tients who ex­pressed their anger con­struc­tively ex­pe­ri­enced “greater im­prove­ment in con­trol over pain and de­pressed mood.” Stud­ies sug­gest a strong as­so­ci­a­tion be­tween im­proved emo­tional reg­u­la­tion and lower car­dio­vas­cu­lar and can­cer mor­tal­ity rates.

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