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Zen and the Art of Injury Prevention

Don't tackle a tough physical task if you're seeing red.

Research suggests that being angry may increase a person's risk of injury nearly seven-fold. About 63 percent of people surveyed during an emergency room visit indicated they were feeling irritable, angry, or hostile at the time they were injured. Before taking on a physical task, count to 10, breathe deeply, and approach your project with a sense of calm to reduce your risk of injury.

More and more research suggests that chronic anger is bad for your health. Although everyone experiences temporary bouts of anger, called "state anger," people who have an enduring hostile or angry attitude, called "trait anger," may have an increased risk of arterial aging, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, and a depressed immune system. Research suggests that state anger increases the risk of injury, especially in men. The study looked at people who visited an emergency room for treatment of an injury and reported their emotions immediately prior to the injury. The majority were angry at the time of their injuries. Exercise, journaling, deep breathing, and venting your frustrations to a trusted friend are all great ways to diffuse angry feelings. If you have a chronic problem controlling your anger, consider seeing a psychotherapist or counselor to learn how to decrease hostility and protect yourself from long-term health consequences.

Medically reviewed in February 2020.

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