Anger is a natural feeling, and all of us experience it from time to time. Sometimes, anger can even be useful, helping us go through difficult situations in our lives and becoming a source of motivation when we need to change something we don’t like.
However, anger can also easily turn into a destructive force, negatively affecting our relationships and other areas of our everyday lives. Usually, problems happen when anger becomes so overwhelming that it gets out of control.
Quite often, people engage in aggressive or self-destructive behavior when they have difficulties with expressing anger. The side effects of anger are a reason why it’s so important to know how to deal with anger and express it in an appropriate way.
People feel angry for various reasons, but no matter what causes your anger, it can negatively affect both your physical and emotional health. Anger doesn’t appear out of nowhere — we get angry when we are afraid, frustrated, or sad. Anger is closely related to stress, and most of the negative physical effects of anger are rooted in the body’s response to stress.
Anger triggers the fight-or-flight response, which includes a surge in the levels of stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. When the stress response occurs, it leads to an increased heart rate and muscle tension, as well as other physical changes.
You start to breathe quicker so that your body can get more oxygen, and all the systems in your body that aren’t crucial for survival become temporarily halted. As a result, you may experience problems with memory and make decisions based on fear and other emotions rather than logic.
All the processes associated with stress make anger a significant risk factor when it comes to cardiac health. If you get angry too often, this can shorten your lifespan and have a significant negative impact on your immune system. Therefore, if you have problems with anger management, don’t hesitate to talk to a licensed therapist. For instance, you can try online therapy.
The Impact of Anger on Health
Everyone knows that stress is bad for people’s health, and that’s the reason why anger is no less dangerous. Whenever you feel angry, your adrenal glands start to produce a massive amount of stress hormones.
How often you get angry is particularly important. The thing is that our bodies are used to coping with short-term stress: once you are no longer exposed to the factors that caused stress, your body slows down the fight-or-flight response, and all the hormonal and neurological processes slowly get back to normal.
However, if you experience prolonged stress or get stressed out too often, your body may fail to keep the levels of cortisol and adrenaline under control. Prolonged stress is particularly dangerous. There are many negative health effects of anger in men and women, so if you get angry too often, you need to learn how to control anger outbursts.
The most common health problems related to anger are associated with metabolic changes in the body caused by exposure to stress hormones. Here are the most common health issues that people face because of anger:
- Heart diseases and heart attacks;
- Acute anxiety;
- High blood pressure;
- Skin diseases, including eczema;
- Digestion problems, including abdominal pains.
According to a study by the University of Washington School of Nursing, the effects of anger may vary among men and women. While women are more likely to experience symptoms of depression because of anger, men are more likely to deal with physical health problems.
Another study from Ohio State University demonstrated that people with anger management issues heal from wounds slower. This connection might be due to an increased level of cortisol. When your body enters the fight-or-flight mode, it prioritizes systems that can help you fight or escape the threat while putting other processes on hold, and healing is one of the processes that slow down because of stress.
Research data collected by the Harvard School of Public Health also shows that men with anger issues often experience breathing problems and age faster. Researchers have also proven that anger management is equally important to both adults and children. Children who don’t learn to cope with anger in an appropriate way experience both physical and social effects of anger so it’s important to learn anger management as early as possible.
What to Do When You Feel Angry?
Now that we’ve figured out how anger is ruining your health, let’s think of what you can do to express your anger in a healthy way. First of all, if you feel that your emotions are getting out of control, try to distance yourself from the situation for a while so that you can calm down and get back to it with a clear mind.
Don’t deny the fact that you’re angry. Recognize your anger and accept it as a natural emotion that’s an integral part of everyone’s lives. Think of what has made you angry and focus on finding solutions to the problem rather than the emotions that you feel because of it. Your emotions won’t help you fix the problem but may only make things more complicated.
A great way to cope with anger is to distract yourself. For example, you can hit the gym or go for a run to blow off some steam and switch focus from frustration or fear to your bodily sensations. Physical activity can help you stay grounded and find a healthy way to get rid of the negative energy that overflows your mind.
Anger is a natural emotion, and sometimes, it can even be helpful. However, when it comes to the advantages and disadvantages of anger, the latter definitely outweigh the former. Not only can anger seriously damage your relationships with others, but it can also negatively affect your emotional and physical health.
Given that anger management often turns out to be a very difficult skill to learn, if you have anger issues, the best solution is to talk to a licensed therapist. Thanks to online therapy platforms like Calmerry, you don’t even need to commute to a therapist’s office because they allow you to talk to a professional remotely. Learn more about the benefits of therapy and make the first step toward a better life.