If you’ve ever experienced acute, intense anger or observed it in someone else, you know this emotion can manifest in your body. You may feel your heart racing, muscles tight, fists and teeth clenched, head throbbing, nostrils flared, and fixed gaze. When these emotions flare, there’s a profound impact on your health.
What anger does to your body
You’re hyper-vigilant and have activated the fight-or-flight response. You have a fire in your belly, your face turns red, your blood pressure rises and you’re likely verbalizing this feeling with words or actions like throwing your arms up in the air.
Then there’s the aftermath when things have calmed down. You may feel physically drained, have sore muscles, experience an interrupted thought process, lost concentration, or cry more tears.
Anger is destructive!
“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.“
~ Mark Twain
There are countervailing forces happening with your body that throws it off balance leading to the reactions you display.
For example, the amygdala is a part of your brain that’s responsible for emotions and social processing. On the other hand, the prefrontal cortex controls reasoning and decision making. Your body tries to find a balance between these two. If you don’t use your prefrontal cortex you may not be able to control your anger.
Your body experiences a release of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol.
I think you’ll agree, it doesn’t sound like anger is good for you. In these situations, your body goes to battle, and pays a price. And in many cases, the price is one that is at least as high (maybe higher) for you, as the object of your fury.
How anger affects your health
What are the consequences of frequent or ever-simmering anger and resentment? Falling into a pattern of chronic emotional unrest related to anger can result in multiple negative impacts to your physical health which include (but are not limited to):
- higher risk of heart disease
- higher risk of stroke
- lower immune system
- higher risk of respiratory/lung problems
- lower life span
Here’s an animated educational video showing you how anger affects your health.
Given the potential long-term physical health outcomes of chronic anger, now would be a good time to reflect on the role anger plays in your life.
Figure out what causes anger in your life. What are your triggers?
Is it due to chronic conditions, the loss of a loved one or a job, or the everyday unfairness of life?
The last few years have been difficult for this country and the world as uncertainty looms. Uncertainty can bring fear and stress to the forefront which can trigger episodes of anger when the loss of “normal” becomes too overwhelming.
Everyone struggles at some point in life. You are not alone. There is a path forward even during the most uncertain times.
Take action to manage and channel anger. You can come out of a difficult situation a stronger person.
If you’re ready to start working on the frustrations that fuel your anger, start with these 7 steps to find more happiness in life!
While a transformation is powerful it’s also important to recognize that anger isn’t all bad. It can even be helpful in situations of serious wrongdoing, e.g., physical assaults or emotional abuse. The goal then isn’t to eliminate anger entirely. Rather, to learn and recognize when anger is allowing you to avoid what’s truly the matter.
(Personal Insight MD, LLC, PeopleTweaker, and Insight MD does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are feeling extreme anger with thoughts and actions harmful to yourself or others such as physical/verbal abuse or acts of violence, find yourself self-medicating with alcohol, illicit drugs, etc., expressing your anger in such a way that threaten relationships or your job, etc. seek professional help immediately and call 911 if necessary if you find yourself in an out-of-control situation or have the urge to hurt yourself or others.)