According to the Mental Health Foundation, anger is a physical and mental response to a threat or to harm done in the past. Anger takes many different forms from irritation to blinding rage or resentment that festers over many years. Anger not only affects our mental state but our physical as well.
What happens to our bodies when we get angry?
The feeling of anger, like all emotions, is not isolated in your mind. The mental reaction triggers a cascade of physical reactions that extend throughout your body, including:
- Increases in heart rate, arterial tension and testosterone
- Decreases in cortisol (the stress hormone)
- Stimulation of your left brain hemisphere, which is involved in experiencing emotions related to closeness
As soon as you get angry, your body starts preparing for a “fight.” Your muscles get tense, your digestive processes stop and certain brain centers are triggered, which alters your brain chemistry.
What are the long-term health effects of holding onto resentment or anger?
In the long run, and sometimes even the short term, however, this automatic response to anger can weaken your immune system and lead to a variety of health problems such as:
- Problems with digestion
- Increased anxiety
- High blood pressure
- Skin problems, such as eczema
- Heart attack
Not only that, but anger can lead to other negative emotions like bitterness, hopelessness, futility and overall sadness. Let’s face it — it’s hard to have a good time if you’re holding on to anger.
How do we control anger?
It is easy to get angry. Sometimes even the smallest things set us off and we can lose control of our emotions. Implementing these 10 steps can help you control your emotions when circumstances get the best of you.
1. Think before you speak
2. Once you’re calm, express your anger
3. Get some exercise
4. Take a timeout
5. Identify possible solutions
6. Stick with ‘I’ statements
7. Don’t hold a grudge
8. Use humor to release tension
9. Practice relaxation skills
10. Know when to seek help
“Anger.” Anger. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 June 2014.
“New Study Shows Profound Impact of Anger on Your Health.” Mercola.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 June 2014.
“Adult Health.” Anger Management: 10 Tips to Tame Your Temper. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 June 2014.