They say that to stay healthy, it’s important to express, not repress, and anger is certainly an emotion that should be expressed, albeit in ways that are not hurtful to family, friends, and loved ones. However, medical research confirms that anger in excess, whether it is expressed or suppressed, can lead to significant health issues. Learning how to cope with anger is crucial for your physical well-being. With that in mind, let’s take a look at seven ways getting angry can hurt your health.
- Heart disease
Frequent and explosive outbursts of anger produce an inordinate amount of cortisol and adrenaline in the body, which result in unhealthy strain and stress on the heart and cardiovascular system. Anger also creates high blood pressure, generating higher amounts of glucose in the blood and fat globules in the blood vessels, which causes damage to artery walls.
- Gastrointestinal issues
It’s no accident that people with anger management issues often suffer from stomach ailments. Moments of extreme anger can shut down the release of chemicals needed for healthy digestion and prevent the body from eliminating waste. Intense anger also releases stomach acids that can irritate existing ulcers and lead to diarrhea, constipation, and intestinal cramping.
- Sore muscles
When you’re angry, your muscles contract and sometimes tighten to a point where you experience physical pain. Deep breathing from your diaphragm when you experience feelings of anger will help to get much needed oxygen to your muscles and prevent soreness and spasms. Massage therapy and acupuncture are two more drug-free options that can help relive tight, constricted muscles.
Depending on the individual, anger can provoke a variety of physiological reactions, which in turn can create physical ailments, including headaches and migraines. Repressed anger will cause your brain to become like a pressure cooker and signal, in the form of headaches, heart palpitations, and tingling in the hands and feet, that an emotional release is desperately needed. Clenched jaws, changes in hormones, and dehydration are some other potentially harmful physical responses the body has to anger.
- Weight gain
Being angry causes weight gain? Believe it or not, it’s true. Our friend the chemical cortisol, which is released by your body when you’re especially angry, creates fat deposits in the abdomen. There is also evidence of a connection between internalized anger and eating disorders, especially in teenagers.
Can anger management reduce your risk of having a stroke? We know anger releases adrenalin which in turn affects the way your blood clots. This is helpful if you find yourself battling a grizzly bear, less so if you suffer from high blood pressure or are overweight. A thrombotic stroke is triggered when a blood clot forms in an artery that supplies blood to your brain. Learning to control your anger, and thus the lower the amount of adrenaline your body is producing, can help reduce the likelihood of a stroke from occurring.
- Relationship problems
You think this is all about you? When you lose control of your anger, consider the impact your behavior is having on those around you, including your coworkers, family members, and loved ones. Recurring episodes of anger can instill unhealthy emotions, including fear, anxiety, and, yes, anger in the very people we respect and love. Take steps to manage your anger so that the people you care about won’t have to suffer its physical consequences.