Anger is an important and natural emotion that we all experience from time to time. An anger disorder such as intermittent explosive disorder, or chronic or volatile anger can be destructive and unhealthy and lead to impaired judgement and irrational behaviour. For anger in older men this can be even more the case as it can exacerbate other health concerns that are more prominent for older demographics. Problems involving the human circulatory system such as heart disease, angina, blood pressure, cholesterol and strokes are all more common as we get older as well as being worse in males. This means that older males are already at greater risk of such conditions, as anger can also affect them this makes chronic anger in older men particularly dangerous.
Anger in older men is also particularly common, as getting old can cause anger in itself, being a frustrating and upsetting experience for many. Furthermore, conditions such as arthritis or back pain that result in constant pain are also likely to cause and increase anger. Fortunately anger management techniques can always be effective no matter you age or gender. These are many and varied and it’s simply a matter of finding the technique that works best for you.
The first key to controlling anger in older men is to identify it when it occurs. This can be achieved by paying attention to the physical symptoms of anger – increased heart rate, rapid breathing, perspiration and clenching of the knuckles among others. If you notice these symptoms then you know that you are getting angry and need to take measures to get your heart rate and breathing back under control. If you find it difficult to notice these signs on your own then you should invest in a biofeedback device that can make it easier. ‘Biofeedback’ simply refers to any device that gives you current information regarding your biology – in this case a heart rate or blood pressure. You can get heart rate monitors that you slip onto your wrist or in your pocket that alert you when you’re getting elevated meaning that you’ll always get a warning when your anger levels are rising.
Ways you can then control your anger include going to a ‘happy place’ (an imagined location or scenario where you feel completely calm and at ease), counting to ten, removing yourself from the situation or controlling your breathing – anything that focuses your attention away from the stimulus that’s getting you angry and helps make you calm and collected. Watching your breathing can be particularly effective as this will slow your breathing (obviously) and heart rate on its own. Eventually by using such techniques and carefully monitoring its effect on your heart and breathing, you can essentially learn to indirectly control your own heart rate and ensure that you remain relaxed at all times (at least this is the idea anyway…).
If your anger is chronic and you feel under constant stress from it then you need to address it in a more permanent manner. This can be achieved through making a few lifestyle adjustments that will address anger in older men at the same time as helping other aspects of their health and mood.
First of all it is important to make sure you get lots of sleep – as a lack of sleep can leave people feeling irritable. Again if you suffer from chronic pain or a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea (or your partner does…) then you should have this addressed by a medical expert. Similarly you should also seek medication and treatment for the causes of pain. Anger in older men can also be abated through the practice of relaxing activities and hobbies – anything that focuses the mind, gives a sense of achievement and relaxes the body. Popular activities include gardening or golf and either of these will help leave you feeling calmer during the day.
Exercise and diet are also key areas to address as both can raise mood and help lower cholesterol. Exercising results in the release of the hormones known as endorphins which result in feelings of euphoria and pain relief (this is known as the ‘runner’s high’) so it can also make a great natural antidepressant. Lowering your intake of saturated fats and carbohydrates while increasing consumption of fibre will also help lower cholesterol – which will both improve your mood and prevent the likelihood of a heart attack or stroke should you still experience an angry outburst.
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