Health Watch: Control anger before it controls you
What is anger?
Anger is a completely normal healthy human emotion. However, when it gets out of control leading to rage and fury, it turns destructive. It can lead to problems at work, in personal relationships, and in the overall quality of life. Like all intense emotions, anger affects us physically and mentally. When you are angry, the heart rate and blood pressure go up, as do the levels of the fight or flight hormones, adrenaline and noradrenalin. Constant release of these hormones can lead to hypertension, peptic ulcers and an inability to sleep. If you seethe for years, over one thing or another, you risk coronary heart disease.
Anger is a corrosive emotion that can run off with your mental and physical health. When you are angry, you tend to lose the power of reasoning and commit blunders, which can cost you heavily. When anger rules you, disaster may follow in the form of physical violence. Unreasonable anger will drive your friends miles away from you. You will cause tension and anxiety to your spouse and children. It can lead to problems at work, in your personal relationships, and in the overall quality of your life. When expressing anger, people may tune into your emotion and ignore your ideas.
Anger can be caused by both external and internal events. Day to day events can trigger anger. Dwelling on something that happened in the past, brooding about traumatic or enraging events can also trigger feelings of anger.
Dealing with anger
Anger is a natural, adaptive response to threats. It allows us to fight and to defend ourselves when we are attacked. A certain amount of anger, therefore, is necessary to our survival. On the other hand, cultural and social norms place limits on how far we can go with our angry reactions. If we realize that we cannot always get rid of or change events or people who anger us, we can learn to control our enraged responses.
Expressing feelings of anger in an assertive but not an aggressive manner is the healthiest way to express anger. Learn how to make clear what your needs are, and how to get them met, without hurting others.
Suppressing anger is another way of dealing with it. Focusing on something positive and doing something constructive helps to defuse anger. But make sure that you do not let this anger fester inside without outward expression. That might just lead to depression and high blood pressure. Unfortunately some people suppress anger but then constantly put others down, criticize everything, and make cynical comments.
Calming down is a very positive and healthy way of dealing with anger. It is not enough to control the outward expression of anger but needs the control of the internal responses. Taking a few deep breaths helps lower the heart rate, achieve a degree of serenity, and let the feelings subside.
Some people get angry more easily and more intensely than the average person does. Some have loud, uncontrollable tantrums while others are chronically irritable and grouchy. People who are easily angered generally have a low tolerance for frustration. They feel that they should not have to be subjected to frustration, inconvenience, or annoyance.
Unfortunately, some people are just genetically programmed that way and these signs are present from a very early age. Others have not been taught during their formative years on how to deal constructively with their anger. Research has also shown that people who are easily angered come from families that are disruptive, chaotic, and not skilled at emotional communications.
Taking deep breaths in a tense situation actually helps. Think the words “calm down” or relax when you feel anger coming on. Learn to use creative visualization to bring a calming image to your mind. Meditation and yoga are definite routes to teaching the body not to react physically to anger.
Using foul language, a loud voice, and negative words will fuel anger even more. They also alienate and humiliate people who might otherwise be willing to help you work on a solution. Very often, anger is triggered by something that you assume the other person meant. Listen carefully to what the other person is saying and take your time before answering. If you feel you are being criticized, do not respond by shouting or with angry words. Express your hurt or defend yourself without losing your temper. Humor can be a balm in an ugly, angry situation.
Going with the flow
Learn to avoid bringing up topics that trigger anger. If they need to be discussed, do it at a time when you and the other person are not tired. Give yourself personal time when you can be calm and peaceful. Frustration with lack of personal time can build up and ultimately cause an explosion.
Some people have serious issues with anger management. This may lead to enormous conflicts within the family and in their ability to deal with the world in general. They may require counseling and behavior modification therapy.