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Will Smith may have landed a slap at the 2022 Oscar ceremonies that was seen (and heard) around the world, but most of us have also found ourselves in situations where our anger was simply too hot for us to handle. In fact, it was a phenomenon we were experiencing even before the pandemic. A 2019 poll found that 84 percent of Americans thought the country was angrier then than it was a generation ago — with over 40 percent confessing that they were angrier in the previous 12 months than they’d been in years. Similarly, a 2021 American Psychological Association Stress in America survey found that 84 percent of Americans reported experiencing emotions associated with prolonged stress, with almost 40 percent of them saying they felt anger.
“There’s a sense of increased frustration. While COVID-19 was part of it, it was there even before the pandemic,” says Bernard Golden, a Chicago psychotherapist and founder of Anger Management Education. But holding onto this rage isn’t good for either your mental or physical health — in fact, it’s been linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, chronic pain and stroke. The effects are particularly pronounced in older adults: A 2019 study published in the journal Psychology and Aging found that anger may be more harmful to older individuals’ physical health than sadness.
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