We all get angry from time to time – after all, anger is a normal human reaction. It could be ignited by a car that cut you off, by a person who muttered a rude comment, or even by something you did to yourself, like spilling a cup of coffee. Those little moments of frustration are nearly unavoidable in daily life. But did you know that the way we deal with that anger can impact our health?
How Anger Affects the Body
The body has a built-in “fight or flight” stress response in which it decides what we should do in a harmful or threatening situation. When we get worked up about something, a similar response happens. Our bodies react to the stress by releasing hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. Even though this releases a burst of energy through the body, it can actually have a negative impact on our health. Those stress hormones cause increases in blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing rate. Over time, all of that stress wreaks havoc on our blood vessels, which can lead to higher rates of heart disease and stroke.
A new year is the perfect time to try to get our anger under control. Despite those pesky little everyday moments, there are plenty of ways to deal with that anger in a positive way.
- Think Before You Speak
The first and most important step is expressing anger in a healthy way. We’ve all said things in the heat of the moment that we later regret. Try to take a few deep breaths and calm down before expressing your feelings.
- Get Some Exercise
All those stress hormones rushing through our bodies can cause confusing reactions. It’s easy to get caught up in that adrenaline-fueled energy burst when we’re angry, so try to harness that energy by engaging in a physical activity like, walking or running, to calm down.
- Take a Timeout
If you’re feeling angry, sometimes the best thing to do is to remove yourself from the situation and try to relax. Close your eyes and imagine a peaceful setting. Take some rhythmic deep breaths. As soon as our emotions start to calm down, our bodies will follow.
- Focus on Finding a Solution
Rather than concentrating on what made you angry, try to focus on how to fix the issue at hand. If it’s an issue with another person, constructively talk through your issues without letting emotions get in the way. We all naturally let our emotions affect our decisions, but when we’re angry, it’s extra important to try to think clearly and make logic-based decisions.
- Don’t Hold a Grudge
It’s not good for our bodies to keep all those negative feelings bottled up. Just remember that it’s unrealistic for everyone to behave exactly how you would like all the time. Brush off small things that may annoy you in the moment. Ask yourself, “Will I remember this moment in 5 hours? In 5 months? Or even in 5 years?” Forgiving someone or letting go of those pesky annoyances can be very cathartic and good for our bodies.
- Know When to Seek Help
Learning to control our anger isn’t an easy thing. As we move in and out of different phases of our lives, we have to adapt how we deal with different triggers and types of issues that can cause anger. Sometimes that can be overwhelming and we need help in controlling our anger – and that’s perfectly okay. Just remember that the way we deal with our anger doesn’t only affect our bodies, it also affects everyone around us. It’s much better to get help from a professional or a support group than to continue to hurt loved ones by saying or doing things out of uncontrollable anger.
Maintaining awareness of our angry feelings and engaging in some of the behaviors described above are excellent steps we can take to tame our anger once and for all so we can live healthier, more fulfilling lives.
Like what you see? Sign up to join Human Health Project, a community-based, not-for-profit website focused on using peer-to-peer health support for a healthier you.