Written by Mario McKellop, WebPsychology
While it can be very intense, anger is not inherently negative. It’s completely natural and healthy emotion that plays in an essential role in our lives; without anger, we would not possess the aggression necessary to defend ourselves and others in which our lives are in danger. However, like all emotions, not properly managing our anger can have serious negative consequences, both mentally and physically.
The Physical Consequences of Anger
In essence, anger is a reactive emotion. Someone cuts you off in traffic, you feel a flash of anger. That kind of reaction is perfectly normal, but if you find your anger being trigger by trivial events or that anger has become your default emotional state, it can put considerable strain on your body. When angry, the adrenal system pumps large quantities of hormones into the bloodstream that sharpen the senses, increases the heart rate and raise the blood pressure. That stress condition can help us escape a potentially deadly situation, but feeling anger on a regular basis can leave us fatigued, unable to sleep and insatiable hungry. Over time, uncontrolled anger can greatly increase the risk factor for developing serious illnesses such as hypertension, type II diabetes and obesity.
The Emotional Consequences of Anger
In addition to negatively affecting your health, persistent, uncontrolled anger can also take a substantial toll on your psychological well-being. By not resolving the underlying issues that are causing you to feel angry, the effect of suppressing such a powerful emotional will begin to affect your behavior. You will find yourself acting passive-aggressively to your friends and co-workers. You’ll become increasingly impatient and critical of family members and romantic partners. Eventually, your caustic behavior will alienate you from your social circle and can negatively impact your professional standing. Consequently, the unraveling of your personal and professional relationships will serve to stoke up your resentment and leave you susceptible to falling into a depressed state of mind.
The Secret to Anger Management
As maintaining an emotional equilibrium is essential to good mental health, we must all learn ways to effectively manage our anger. The goal of anger management is not to suppress or eliminate anger as doing so is impossible. Instead, you must learn to control your reaction to anger and how to express it constructively. To do this, you need to recognize what triggers your anger and why. You should also examine past situations wherein your anger was justified—such as being cut off while driving, and situations when it is not—such when you arrive at a restaurant too late to get served, and the difference between those two scenarios.
Taking Back Control
Due to the extremely problematic nature of out of control anger, the American Psychological Association has outlined a number of different strategies for managing that particular emotion. One method keeping your anger in check is to learn a variety of breathing techniques. When you feel a surge of anger, you can use them to combat its physiological effects.
You can also use cognitive behavioral techniques to defuse your explosive reactions to certain stimuli by restructuring your thought patterns. With practice, you can reflexively stop yourself from making furious outbursts that exacerbate rather than resolve situations that arouse your anger.
You can also work with a qualified therapist who can help you understand the root causes of your excessive anger and prescribe a course of treatment that will help you experience and process anger without being controlled by it.
There is no one-size-fits-all-solution to anger management, but with so many different options are available, a treatment that will help you gain control of your emotions does exist.
Keywords: Anger Management, cognitive behavioral techniques