While we all might like to think we’re not angry people, the second we’re caught in traffic and running late for an appointment across town, or the kids do that one thing at the end of a crazy evening that is the last straw in the patience you had allotted for the day, another side of you might come out. Small instances like that aren’t alarming, but what happens when the frequency of them increases? How does anger affect out health? Here’s what you need to know about the cause and effect of anger, and how to stop anger in its tracks.
So how does anger become an issue? The first thing you need to know is there’s a direct connection between stress and anger. When you’re stressed out your body goes into fight or flight mode. While in this fight or flight mode, your body can perceive any situation as a major threat even if it’s not. When your body or mind senses this stress, this attack on your well-being, instead of running (the flight part), you might lash out in fight mode instead. That anger seems to bubble up out of nowhere and you find that you’re less likely to react to situations rationally, which results in more stress and more anger. It’s like a vicious cycle that never stops.
When you get angry, your blood pressure increases. If you find that you’re getting angry quite often, you put yourself at risk for high blood pressure. Your heart rate also speeds up when you become angry, putting even more physical stress on your entire cardiovascular system. Tension headaches and migraines can also be the result of anger. This is due to the tensing of the muscles in your jaw, neck, and shoulders. As you hold that tension, your muscles are putting pressure on the interweaving blood vessels, decreasing the blood flow through the neck and head.
So, how can you manage your anger when you’re in the moment? Here are 5 tips to take control of your anger instead of letting your anger take control of you.
Count down: Sometimes, we just need a few seconds to redirect our attention. Counting down from 10 (100 if you’re really angry) can give us time to remove ourselves from the situation and see it for what it really is; allowing the rational parts of your brain to take over in place of those irrational reflexive parts.
Breathe deep: When you feel yourself starting to lose control find a quiet place wherever you may be. Pull the car over, take a break at work, hide in the bathroom from the screaming kids, whatever you need. Take several deep breaths while focusing on nothing but your breathing, not what caused your anger in the first place.
Write in a journal: Take this time to write down what made you angry, how you’re feeling, and what’s going on around you. This may allow you to see if you’re overreacting or if it’s something you need to address. It helps you to feel more in control and can leave you with a way to track what’s really bothering you and how you’re managing your anger day to day.
Switch things up: If morning traffic raises your anger level, take a different route. If your child fights you every morning while getting ready, tag team morning duties with your spouse or develop a new routine. Find a way to invite newness in the situation to avoid your triggers.
Find a release: Not only does exercise help relieve stress that can cause your anger, it can be fun too. Take up kick boxing or buy a punching bag to hang in your garage. When you get angry, let it all out on the punching bag. Getting your aggression out in a physical, but healthy and safe way is really effective in helping your brain and body to release all that pent-up anger.
You are in control of your life. Don’t let stress and anger turn you into someone you’re not, and don’t let them dictate your relationships or responses. Use these tips to kick your anger to the curb.