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Most of the tension that people attribute to stress is really low-grade anger, which is usually unaffected by anger management techniques. Every publication and TV news magazine worth noting has run multiple pieces on the explosion of stress in our times. They talk about frenzied time pressures, long work hours, and congested commutes. They list our fragmented social schedules at home and increasingly complex financial worries. We’ve read all about these things, how they feed the insatiable monster of stress.
They feed an insatiable monster all right, but it isn’t stress; it’s low-grade, mostly unconscious anger or resentment that can thoroughly deplete physical and mental resources. You can come home from a hard day of resentment and feel like you’ve loaded a ton of bricks. Your muscles ache from the continuous low-grade arousal; you’re drained of energy, with no enthusiasm, interest, or enjoyment possible.
You’ve read headlines about many studies showing dangerous ill-health effects of anger. Some call it the heart attack emotion. What the stories usually don’t tell you is that the harmful effects of anger come not from frequency or intensity – how often you get angry or how angry you get. They come from duration: how long it lasts. Unhealthy levels of anger are those that last longer than a few minutes. In other words, the culprit is sustained reactions to emotional pollution, which will almost certainly make you resentful, as your emotions will seem manipulated by your environment.
Long-lasting low grade anger or resentment can cause:
o Destruction of T-Cells (which depress the immune sys¬tem); if you’re resentful a lot you probably have lots of little aches and pains, get colds and bouts of flu
o Hypertension–increased threat of stroke
o Heart disease
o Shortened life span.
Low grade anger ruins health, work, and relationships. To find out if your stress is really low-grade anger, take the Anger Management Quiz.