Home Mental Health & Well-Being Why Anger Destroys Health (And What to Do About it)

Why Anger Destroys Health (And What to Do About it)

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It’s normal to get angry once in a while, but uncontrolled anger can be a problem. If you remain in a state of anger for prolonged periods of time, it can negatively impact your mental and physical health.

What anger does to the body

When you get angry, your body’s fight or flight response is triggered and your adrenal glands flood your blood stream with cortisol and adrenaline. Digestion is paused, and blood is rerouted into the muscles to provide extra strength in case you choose to flee. You probably experience this as heavier breathing, inner warmth, and possibly sweat.

This process isn’t inherently bad. After all, it’s your body’s natural response to a stressful or threatening situation. It becomes a problem when stress hormones flood your body for a long period of time.

How anger can negatively impact your health

When anger is uncontrolled, it leaves your body in a heightened state of awareness for long periods of time, which can cause metabolic changes and other forms of bodily damage. Some of the most common health issues linked to anger include:

  • Insomnia and other sleep disorders
  • Heart attacks and strokes
  • High blood pressure
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Skin problems

Is anger negatively impacting you? 5 signs

  1. You hold in your feelings and explode later, sometimes in unrelated ways.
  2. You have frequent arguments with your family, friends, or co-workers.
  3. You engage in reckless behavior and feel like it’s helping you vent.
  4. You’ve threatened to hurt people or damage property.
  5. Yelling is a common way you communicate.

If any of the above situations sound familiar, you might be bottling up anger, causing you to explode in an unhealthy manner. If you don’t get it under control, you could end up destroying your meaningful relationships, losing your job, your partner, and even your physical health

Here are some tips that can help

Try anger management counselling

Some people believe that anger should never be expressed, but that leads to repression, which has dire consequences on the mind and body. Any emotion you repress will eventually come out, but usually at the wrong time and in an inappropriate way. It’s actually better to learn how to express anger constructively, and you can get this valuable skill from anger management therapy.

During anger management courses, you’ll learn how to express anger in a healthy way so you don’t repress your feelings. The heart of this therapy is learning to manage your reactions to situations that trigger you. Changing the way you react will go a long way to keeping anger under control.

Pause before reacting

If your natural inclination is to react to a trigger immediately, teach yourself to pause before giving any kind of reaction, whether it’s a verbal statement, a message on social media, or body language. During this time, you’ll have time to allow the initial shock to subside and you can start thinking about what just happened.

Train yourself to pause and take in the situation in full before reacting. If there’s a problem that needs to be solved, you’ll be in a better position to help if you don’t react. If you’re in a situation where someone has insulted you or said something mean, pausing will prevent you from saying or doing something you regret later.

Go within

Being triggered into angry reactions usually means you have some kind of unhealed trauma under the surface. Anytime you feel triggered, start looking within to see if you can identify where the reaction is coming from.

It could be that the current situation is a mirror image of something that happened to you 20 years ago. Or, you might feel angry about losing a friend or family member and the slightest issue is triggering you into reacting.

It doesn’t hurt to look. If you find something, see if it fits. If it does, you’ll know the root and you can resolve the issue. If it doesn’t fit, there’s no harm done.

Don’t let anger control your life

If you’re struggling with uncontrolled anger that has a negative impact on your life, you don’t have to suffer. You just need to learn how to change your reactions. It’s not impossible to do on your own, but the best place to get support is from an anger management counsellor. 

Takeaway

The human body and mind are intricately connected, and unchecked emotions, especially anger, can wreak havoc on both. Recognising the signs of unmanaged anger and taking proactive steps to address it not only preserves one’s health but also nurtures relationships and overall well-being. Remember, acknowledging anger is not a sign of weakness but a pathway to understanding and healing. Seek help when needed, cultivate patience, and be gentle with yourself. Taking charge of your anger ensures you lead a life of balance, harmony, and peace.


Ellen Diamond, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

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