You shouldn’t sleep on it
The saying “never go to bed angry” is valid advice. Going to sleep may reinforce or “preserve” negative emotions, suggests a study in the Journal of Neuroscience, which found that sleep enhances memories , particularly emotional ones. “We are learning that sleep seems to help us process and consolidate information we acquire while we are awake,” says Allen Towfigh, MD, a New York City-based board certified sleep medicine doctor and neurologist. So going to bed after an argument will likely cause that experience to be consolidated more effectively than if you went on to remain awake for that same eight-hour period, says Dr. Towfigh.
You shouldn’t drive
Operating a motor vehicle when you’re enraged can be dangerous. Research shows that angry drivers take more risks and have more accidents . “When you’re angry, you’re primed for attack, so it’s not a good time to jump in a vehicle,” says David Narang, PhD, a clinical psychologist in Santa Monica, Calif. “In addition, anger gives a person tunnel vision—you stare straight ahead and may not see a pedestrian or another car coming into your peripheral vision crossing the street.” If you must drive when angry, Narang suggests opening your eyes purposefully and looking around you to avoid tunnel vision.
You shouldn’t vent
Getting anger off your chest sounds like a good idea, but it may actually make matters worse. In fact, people who simply spent five minutes reading another person’s online rants became angrier and less happy in a study published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking. An earlier study also showed that venting anger by hitting pillows not only increased anger at that moment but made aggressive behavior more likely in the future. “They feel validated in what they’re saying by venting,” says Narang, “but they’re not less angry.”
You shouldn’t eat
Soothing your anger by reaching for food can backfire in a couple of ways, says Kathy Gruver, PhD, author of Conquer Your Stress With Mind/Body Techniques ($10-15; amazon.com ). “When we are angry, we often make unhealthy food choices,” she says. “No one ever reaches for broccoli. We go for the high-sugar, high-fat, carbohydrate-loaded comfort foods.” In addition, a heightened state of emotions sparks the fight or flight response , where the body thinks it’s in danger. In such a state, digestion takes a backseat to the “emergency” at hand and does not function optimally, says Gruver. This may result in diarrhea or constipation.