Everyone experiences anger. A fellow driver cut you off in traffic. The children broke something precious. A coworker commented in a way that triggered you. We’ve all been there. Being angry makes us feel off and may even physically hurt. Did you know anger can affect your mind and body?
Intense and persistent anger:
- Is linked to depression.1
- Increases your level of stress and anxiety.2
- Can release stress hormones. These can cause vascular problems and irregular heartbeat and may affect your metabolism.3
- Can lead to the development of obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes.4
- Can contribute to stress-related problems, including insomnia, body aches and headaches.5
Anger is often considered a barrier to adequate self-management. It may also interfere with the patient-healthcare provider relationship.6
Dealing with anger
The goal is to get to a place where you’re not bothered and don’t react to the usual triggers. Unfortunately, avoiding all anger is unrealistic. There are skills you can learn to cope with anger in the heat of the moment, like the STOP skill:7
- Stop what you are doing physically.
- Take a step back. Give yourself some distance from the thing causing you distress.
- Observe what is happening in and around you. Ground yourself with a few breaths.
- Proceed mindfully. Take a moment to decide what is the most effective thing to do.
You can change your outlook by practicing mindfulness and relaxation regularly. Activities like deep breathing, guided meditation, yoga or tai chi, or anything you find soothing can help.
Taking it a step further, to prevent things from getting to you, follow these tips:
- Acknowledge anger as it happens. Ask yourself why you’re feeling angry.
- Don’t suppress your anger as a means of controlling it.
- Find a healthy, physical outlet for your anger. Exercises like running, walking, biking or boxing release endorphins. Endorphins can help reduce the effects of anger.8
- Don’t dwell on the incident that made you angry. Learn to let go and focus on any lessons learned.5
- Recognize and learn to deflect the triggers that make you angry. By reprogramming your response, you bypass feeling angry.5
Using these tools to help you deal with anger can bring on a more peaceful, and healthy, you.
Anger is related to stress. While you’re working on it, take a deep breath and follow these expert tips to reduce stress.
Published February 15, 2023