wellwoman

Anger, rage, call it what you may, is on the rise and being expressed in all manner of ways. There are so many angry people out there and they don’t know how to deal with their anger. If you are one of them or if someone you love is suffering from this health-harming emotion, this article is for you.

You are queuing at the bank and it is taking too long to get to the front. Then it’s your turn and the bank clerk is slow and not exactly competent in her work as she keeps making mistakes. Or you have just arrived at the office to complete an urgent report for a meeting due in an hour. The Internet decides to act up. You cannot access your mailbox and calling the IT guy is not helping, as he’s not yet at work. You are not just angry, you are livid! These scenarios can get repeated every day of your life, from the time you start your commute in the morning to the time you return home to find the kids have put the house in a total mess.

This is life. And life is full of annoyances. And rather than maintaining perspective and accepting these inconveniences for what they are, many of us respond with anger. And in our anger we can do all sorts of things – become aggressive or abusive, jump the queue, overlap or overtake dangerously… the list is endless. There is no one who can claim not to have ever been frustrated by things happening around their life. Something as simple as being put on hold on phone forever has seen people break their phones in uncontrollable anger. Most recorded cases of physical violence arise from anger – a robber asks you to hand over your wallet or the car key and you delay – he gets angry and shoots. Or you are having an argument that makes you angry, then you become physical.

Anger and your health…

As our lives become more hectic, we are bound to have those anger moments. We need to deal with them if we want to preserve our health. The constant flow of problems in our daily lives and trifling issues can pile up and stop us from catching our breath. As a result, the body becomes toxic, and all kinds of stress-related symptoms can occur, which can have physical, mental and emotional consequences. After a while you can reach an emotional overload and literally blow your top at the smallest thing. And once you are on that roller coaster of rage, the slightest problem can set you off again and again.

When a situation appears hopeless, it’s not a bad thing to have a good moan about it, while at the same time doing something productive to address the problem. However, being in a constant state of anger can have a detrimental effect on your health. When you are angry, your body is put under immense strain. Stress-response chemicals are released into the bloodstream. Your muscles tense, your heart beats faster and your blood pressure soars. You are at an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. You will also have more colds and other viral and bacterial infections because your immunity is weakened.

Then there is the effect anger can have on other people. At its most extreme, it can lead to violence and aggression. As a result, relationships suffer. It can be draining being with someone who constantly seems about to explode – even if they would never dream of venting their anger at you. You naturally start to keep your distance if your partner, friend or family member appears angry all the time. Anger drives people away.

Anger is not always a bad thing…

While flying into rage offers little to recommend itself, anger does still serve a purpose. If someone is rude and abusive towards you, damages you, or puts you at risk, of course you have the right to be angry about it. But remember anger is an emotion, while aggression and violence are behaviours. We have choices about how we express our anger and not all expressions of anger, such as violence, are acceptable or appropriate.

Anger can also be fine when put in context. If people never get angry about injustices, for example, we cannot achieve social advances such as equality for women. But when anger starts to hurt you and others then it is out of control and you need to take charge. You may sometimes feel powerless, but you can always manage your feelings. You may not be able to stop those irritations from happening, but you can choose how you to react.

Even though you feel less in control of your life, do not misdirect your anger. Many people turn to social media to vent their anger and research shows this hurts them even more and does little to relieve their anger. Getting angry on social media can just make you feel even more furious, particularly when strangers join in to vent their own anger. Ranting via social media and blogs sections because you feel powerless to do anything else spreads anger like a bushfire, leaving more people hurting, so don’t go there.

Published June 2016