For years, psychology gurus have recommended blowing off steam when you're angry -- as long as no one is harmed. We've been told that hitting a punching bag or throwing our fist into a pillow will help alleviate the tension.
Well, new research indicates that the opposite effect may occur. Your quick-release steam valve may actually increase your anger.
In a study conducted by psychologists from Iowa State University and Case Western Reserve, 700 college students who were insulted by an unseen partner, were placed in a situation where they could direct a blast of noise at the person they believe insulted them.
The control group tried to let off steam by hitting a punching bag for two minutes. It didn't matter. In fact, their responses became even more angry. The findings were reported in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
I am convinced the best way to reduce anger is to take a few deep breaths and let negative feelings dissipate slowly. Blowing your top -- even if no one hears you -- is tough on your nervous system.