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Real life has no rewind button

Dt. Steven Heidinger writes about the "24-hour rule"
Wellness Column by Dr. Steven Heidinger

My kids have been in organized sports for the last 10 years or so.  Basketball, hockey, baseball, volleyball, football. For 10 years, my wife and I have sat through hundreds of games, practices, parent meetings, “team-bonding” events and wind-ups. For the most part it has all been enjoyable…for the most part.

There have been times when our kids were less than excited to go to a football practice in the rain, or an early ice time in the middle of January, but it usually didn’t take more than a nudge with a, “I’m not doing this for me, you know!” guilt comment or, “If you really don’t want to go, we can just pull you out for the rest of the season” warning that changed their attitude in a hurry. What we won’t do for our kids.  

However, sometimes, parents act like it’s more about them than the kids.

If you are a hockey parent, you probably know about the 24-hour rule. To me, this is the best…rule…ever. Occasionally, things don’t go the way you want them to go. Occasionally, another kid hurts your kid. Occasionally, a ref makes a mistake. Occasionally, some of us had a bad day prior to our kid’s game. And there may be the occasion that we want to yell at someone — a ref, a coach, a kid, a board member, the guy at the concession, or even another parent. More often than not, there is regret the very next day. Hence the 24-hour rule.

Forbes magazine describes this as a self-imposed 24-hour waiting period, taking this opportunity to let the dust settle and gain perspective on whatever it is that's vexing us. Anger is bad enough as it has its own health consequences with increased blood pressure and heart rate, adrenaline and cortisol (stress hormone) release, digestive imbalance, and risk of stroke. But what may add to this is the feeling of regret and potential for embarrassment. Regretful feelings have been shown to be a detriment to one’s health as well, as it weakens the immune system, alters hormones and stresses the cardiovascular system. 

While it’s just one day, 24 hours can make a world of difference in gaining perspective. Wait until the day after a horrible round of golf before you decide to sell those clubs on eBay. Hold off on storming into your boss’s office to see if you feel the same anger the next morning. Go ahead and write that potentially hurtful email but wait until tomorrow to press “send.”  Maybe you’ll just end up deleting it rather than regretting it.

Anger management is a skill that comes natural for some and for others must be learned and practiced. The 24-hour rule is a wonderful tool to help navigate ourselves through this busy and potentially stressful world.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.