Changing Your Life: Managing Your Stress

"You could say no, it's not that important and you might be surprised at how that anger, that urge to kill, dissipates," Williams says. "Lots of people tell us that one question alone -- [for example, is it really important that the kid is spilling milk in the big scheme of things -- you might get a 'no' and you find, 'Darn, I don't feel so angry anymore.'"

If your answer is yes, move on to question two: Is it reasonable for me to be angry? Would my friends get as angry as I am right now?

"You need to chill out," Williams says. "Use a distraction, sing a song to yourself."

If you answer yes, ask yourself question three: Can I modify or change the situation?

"Three yeses means you need to take some action," Williams says. "And asking these questions -- important, appropriate, modifiable -- is putting yourself in control of, at least, your reaction. People who have this personality type can learn to manage anger better and control it. We have randomized clinical trials, gold standard in medicine to prove it."

Studies Show Men Benefit More From Stress Management

While both sexes may benefit from stress management, much of the benefit in studies has been observed in men.

A study published in 2007 showed a savings of roughly $2 for every dollar spent by hospitals on hostility interventions for male patients who came in with heart problems, showing up when they weren't rehospitalized in the following months.

Karina Davidson, director of intervention research in the Behavioral Cardiovascular Health and Hypertension Program at Columbia University and lead investigator on that study, said that part of the reason anger management is more studied in men is that it can be a greater risk factor for them than for women.

"Women often show their anger unassertively, [through] resentment or silence," she says. "It's an omission rather than yelling at someone."

While self-awareness of an anger management problem can help with intervention, a spouse can play a key part in getting that help as well. Davidson said that it is often a spouse who notices and gets her husband to seek treatment.

Of the men in her studies, "Many of them were referred by their wives, interestingly enough," she says.

She adds that awareness of stress can be important because a lot of the damage to the heart takes place in earlier years, when men are between 18 and 35. However, it is often difficult to detect heart problems as many people do not feel the effects until later in life.

So early on, Davidson says, "You've [got to] learn a style that stays with you."

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