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Solutions for Emotional Well-Being

Overcoming Anger

What Is Anger?

Anger has been defined in many ways, from its mild forms, a loss of calmness, displeasure or irritation, to its most potent, hostility or rage. It can be a stress response to loss or failure, a defensive posture against an insult or perceived wrong, a reflex reaction to aggression or violence. Each of us knows what set us off and how anger can manifest itself: The head hurts, the neck and shoulders tighten, or worse, the entire body goes rigid, our breathing and heartbeat become irregular; we have trouble concentrating at the workplace, in school or at home; restful sleeps eludes us; relationships falter. (See our Recommendations)

When anger takes control, it is nearly impossible to focus on anything except that which has made us angry. Feelings of anger might dissipate after a few moments, linger for a day or take hold for months or years. Sadly, many people lead lives of one volatile encounter after another and don’t know why or how to overcome anger.

"When you have a long history with anger, when you’ve put a lot of emotional energy into that anger, you’ve imprinted a pattern in your brain that’s hard to break."

Transforming Anger, Childre and Rozman, 2003

Anger Builds

Anger often starts off as something small and builds. You’re impatient, there’s a recurring nuisance or annoyance. Irritation grows as you give more and more significance to a situation, perhaps only a minor incident, but it leads to a judgment and then to blame. You take it personally, feel wronged. Now you’re angry and you feel justified, but justified or not the anger causes incoherence in your heart rhythms and activates stress hormones. Research has shown one five-minute episode of anger is so stressful it impairs your immune system for more than six hours.


Learn scientifically validated tools and techniques for eliminating anger with the emTech™ Media e-booklet or audio file called Eliminating Anger.

The Quest to Overcome Anger

As we strive to overcome anger we face the daunting task of breaking a pattern imprinted on our brains not only by repeated response to the triggers in our daily lives, but also a world where there is unrest in our neighborhoods, road rage on our highways and calamities in distant lands that are delivered to us electronically anytime we turn on the radio, TV or computer.

Eliminating anger and the longstanding habits that allow anger to trigger can be hard at first. The good news is HeartMath techniques have been proven effective in breaking the cycle of anger and all of its consequences. They’re very easy to learn and are based on extensive scientific research that has revealed how the heart and the brain communicate.

"Search your heart," the saying goes, for therein lies the answer. Heart intelligence, we now know, is a resource that not only can help us overcome anger, but can guide us in transforming our entire lives as well, and the process can be scientifically monitored.

"In recent years, neuroscientists have made an exciting discovery. They’ve found that the heart has its own independent nervous system – a complex system referred to as ‘the brain in the heart.’ … The heart’s intrinsic brain and nervous system relay information back to the brain in the cranium, creating a two-way communication system between heart and brain."

The HeartMath Solution, Childre and Martin, 1999


Transforming Anger: The HeartMath® Solution For Letting Go of Rage, Frustration, and Irritation

Childre, Rozman, 2003

If you can’t seem to control your anger, this book offers you hope as well as practical tools that will help you succeed. You’ll learn what researchers and scientists have learned: The human heart has an intelligence all its own that you can tap into to overcome anger, stress and much more. Also includes complete details of the Go to Neutral Tool.

A HeartMath Tip: The moment a feeling of anger starts to arise is the time to employ this simple exercise adapted from the HeartMath Go to Neutral Tool.

  • Take a time-out to disengage from your thoughts and feelings, especially stressful ones. Actually say to yourself, "time out," as you recognize and feel your emotional triggers, then step back from all reactions to them.
  • Shift your focus to the area around your heart and feel your breath coming in through your heart and going out through your solar plexus.
  • Tell yourself, "Go to neutral," then remain in this neutral zone until your emotions ease and your perceptions relax.

In-depth details and a discussion about the HeartMath Attitude Breathing tool are available in the book Transforming Stress: The HeartMath Solution for Relieving Worry, Fatigue and Tension.

Benefits of Living Anger Free

  • Relationships, communication improve
  • Enriched outlook on life
  • Healthier, more energy
  • Calmer around people
  • More focused at work, school, play

"The relationship between anger, heart attacks and other adverse health effects is well documented. You can learn how to not only defuse this deadly emotion, but how you can transform it into positive feelings."

– Paul Rosch MD, President, American Institute of Stress


Tools for Overcoming Anger

  • Eliminating Anger: Anger has become a serious issue for many people, but with a new approach and a little heart we can learn how to better manage this powerful, negative emotion. This HeartMath emTech® Media audio program or e-booklet can help.
  • emWave®2: Regular use of this entertaining and scientifically validated, heart-rate monitor helps you build resilience – a state of poise and readiness for effectively dealing with stressful feelings that can deplete your mental, emotional and physical systems. Easy to use and noninvasive, you can use it as a handheld or connect to your computer to review past sessions or play any of the resilience building games.

  • emWave® Desktop for Mac and PC: The emWave Desktop turns your computer into an advanced heart-rate monitor. When combined with HeartMath’s widely acclaimed resilience and coherence building techniques, you’ll soon learn how easily you can create an optimal state in which your heart, mind and emotions are more in-sync and balanced. In this balanced state, individuals tend to experience more energy, focus and mental clarity. With practice of the HeartMath System can help you begin feeling healthier and happier and start living life more fully.

    † Formerly known as Freeze-Framer®

(Note: Use the emWave2 or emWave Desktop for Mac and PC to help regulate your emotions in preparation for events you know may trigger your stress response and to help you recover from stressful episodes and get back on an even keel fast.)

Learn more…

  • The Physiological and Psychological Effects of Compassion and Anger, Rein, Atkinson, Mcraty, 1995. Researchers conducted this study to determine the various effects, including on heart rates, of anger and self-induced positive emotions on a group of people.
  • Read interesting and informative articles in our Quarterly Newsletters about the wealth of scientific research conducted at the Institute of HeartMath. Check out the results of IHM’s many past and ongoing development studies involving thousands of people around the world who have used the HeartMath System to improve their lives. In the spring 2006 newsletter, read the article about how Dr. Ira Katz is treating prisoners with depression, anxiety or neurological impairment using the HeartMath System.
  • The Value of HeartMath Stress Reduction Tools for Patients with Heart Disease, Newsletter, spring 2004: Read this Milwaukee hospital board chairman and cardiologist’s account of his discovery of HeartMath principles and subsequent excitement at the prospect of incorporating HeartMath training into the hospital’s cardiac rehabilitation program.

Take me to the HeartMath Store now to learn more about IHM’s life-changing tools, training programs and other resources, or call us: (800) 711-6221.